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Why June has felt so cold, and when the UK summer will get warmer

After Britons experienced the hottest May on record last month, the first week of June saw lows of 6°C with temperatures only just peaking at 16°C.

The perceived plunge in temperatures has left some concerned we could see a “cold snap” before the summer is over – though meteorologists have argued that the recent climate is “perfectly normal” for this time of year.

Meteorologists have told i why June has felt unseasonably cool, and shed light on what we can expect from the rest of the summer.

Why has June felt so cold?

“I agree that it feels like it’s cold for early June,” meteorologist Dr Robert Thompson told i. “But, for instance, in Reading (Berkshire), in the first six days of June it’s been less than 1°C colder than average.”

The meteorologist from the University of Reading said climate change had meant that we generally expect the weather to be warmer at this time of year than temperatures actually average.

“The last few months have all been warmer than average. We’ve had a reasonably warm spring compared to what we expect, so we’re kind of expecting that to continue, and it hasn’t done,” Dr Thompson said.

Noting that the weather was “perfectly normal” for the time of year, Professor David Schultz from the University of Manchester said the reason for recent colder temperatures was because “the jet stream is farther south than normal for this time of year” and is “bringing cooler drier air from the north-west over the UK”.

People enjoying the sunny weather on Boscombe Beach in Bournemouth. Picture date: Saturday May 11, 2024. PA Photo. Photo credit should read: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
People enjoying the sunny weather on Boscombe Beach in Bournemouth in May (Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA)

The jet stream is an area around 5km to 10km up into the atmosphere where fast winds travel at speeds of around 100mph. These usually come across the Atlantic from America and towards Europe.

“Right now, the jet stream is bringing cooler drier air from the north-west over the UK, which is giving us the cooler weather, but with afternoon clouds and maybe rain showers,” Professor Schultz said.

Adding to his fellow meteorologist’s explanation, Dr Thompson said: “The jet stream for the last few days really has been coming from quite far north and then down over the UK.

“We’d expect, particularly at this time of year, for it to be going north of the UK – almost in the diagonally opposite direction from where we’d expect it to be going.”

“In the summer it tends to be a bit further north and a bit further south in the winter,” Dr Thompson added, which is bringing us colder weather.

When will it warm up?

A spokesperson for the Met Office told i that temperatures below average were set to “remain so for the coming week” but it was all part of the “natural variation of weather patterns, and this can happen occasionally.”

“We are being influenced by a slow-moving pressure pattern,” they said, adding that “low pressure to the north and north-east and high pressure to the west” was introducing “a cool northerly flow”.

“Nothing unusual in this,” they said, “but when it happens it suppresses temperature values to below average levels.”

Dr Thompson concluded that the fact so many people had noticed the slight difference in temperatures for June showed us that “the world has changed a lot”.

“May was 1.52°C globally above the 1850 to 1900 average. It doesn’t sound very much.

“Well, we’re noticing. June is cold, and that’s 0.8°C colder – twice as much nearly. That’s how much we warmed the world up.”

Will we see a warmer summer?

Dr Thompson added that the upcoming summer is set to be warmer than average.

“Every month now the news seems to be that it was the hottest month on record, miles above the last 12 months – distressing, I suppose, is the word to use,” he told i.

“Seasonal forecasts are suggesting that it is likely to be warmer than average this summer. But realistically, because of global warming, we’re pretty much always going to say that we expect it to be warmer than average.”

Despite this, recent Met Office forecasts predict that we could be in for the wettest summer since over 100 years ago.

The forecaster estimates there could be as many as 50 wet days over the course of the next three months, which is just under two days out of every three.

Last year there were 40 days of rain, and in 1912, the dreariest summer we have on record, there were 55 rainy days. 

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