Extreme Weather in the UK and Around the World

Michael Craig, April 7, 2015 at 12:14 pm

Extreme Weather in the UK and Around the World

The weather is always a topic of conversation, and especially so when
incidents of extreme weather seem to be on the rise. Flooding, snowstorms,
droughts – they have all hit the headlines in recent years.

Here’s a look at some facts and figures:

Hottest temperature
ever recorded: 56.7 C,
Death Valley, California,
10 July 1913

Lowest temperature
ever recorded: -89 C,
Vostok Station,
Antarctica, 21 July 1983

Most rain to fall in 12
hours: 1,144 mm,
Réunion, 8 January 1966

Most snow to fall in one
month: 990.6 cm,
Tamarack, California,
January 1911

Heaviest hailstone: 1.02 kg,
Bangladesh, 14 April 1986

Deadliest storm: the
Bhola cyclone in
Bangladesh in 1970, a
Category 3 hurricane that
killed between 300,000
and 500,000 people.

Strongest storm: Super
Typhoon Tip, 1979 over
the Western Pacific. It had
a diameter of 1,380 miles,
had peak gusts of 190
mph, and its central
pressure fell to 870 mb,
which was the lowest ever
sea-level pressure

Weather in the UK: Getting Warmer and Wetter

According to World Meteorological Organization,1998 to 2007 was the warmest decade on record in the UK, and six of the UK’s top 10 warmest years on record occurred this century.

In many areas of the world in the northern hemisphere, precipitation has increased between 0.5% and 1% per decade. In addition, the intensity and the frequency of droughts has increased over the past decades in parts of Africa and Asia.

According to Met Office forecasters, extreme rainfall is likely to become more normal in the UK over the coming century. Indeed, of the five wettest years in the UK, four have occurred since 2000, and 2012 was the second-wettest year on record in the UK.

This will lead to an increased risk of flooding, which has already caused chaos across the UK. And it is not just the UK: rainfall is also increasing in other parts of the world such as China and India.

Why? It could be due to melting Arctic sea ice and changes in sea surface temperature, or it could simply be natural variation.

A Disturbing Forecast

It comes as no surprise that climate change is being blamed for at least some of this extreme weather. A Royal Society study released in November 2014 suggested extreme weather will become more common in Britain and that by the end of the century it could be responsible for many more deaths. If climate change is not addressed, the report predicts that the chances of deadly heat waves affecting the UK could be 10 times higher, and the risk of flooding could quadruple.

Despite Britain apparently being more resilient than many other countries, it is still vulnerable to the effects of climate change, which coastal communities being affected the most.

Greater extremes in the UK’s weather may mean hotter summers and colder winters, with each presenting their own set of risks. Care needs to be taken during hotter summer months to protect against dangers such as sunburn and dehydration, while gritting services will required to keep roads safe during the harsher winters and insulated buildings used to keep people warm enough.

Even with the grim predictions about the future, extreme weather events have always occurred throughout history. If you look at the coldest winters on record in the UK, the Big Freeze of 1962-63 was the worst in recent times. However, colder winter temperatures were recorded in the winters of 1739-40 and 1683-84. But it seems likely that climate change is going to have a significant impact on the weather across the planet in coming decades.

Get Prepared for More Highs and Lows

Extreme weather has always caused mayhem across the world, but things look like they could be getting worse. Although no one knows for sure what the coming years will bring, the predictions seem to suggest that more extreme weather events are on their way if climate change is not tackled, so expect more weather records to be broken in the coming years.