Autumn 2011 United Kingdom heat wave

Autumn 2011 United Kingdom heat wave
High pressure caused warm air from Southern Europe to rise up towards the UK
Dates 25 September – 3 October
Areas affected United Kingdom and Ireland
Highest temperature 29.9 °C in Gravesend, England[1]

The autumn 2011 United Kingdom heat wave was a period of unseasonably warm weather which arrived towards the end of September 2011 and continued into October. As a result, record-high temperatures for the country were broken for the autumn months. The autumn heat wave followed the warmest temperatures to occur on record in the spring, but also the coolest temperatures to occur in the summer months since 1993.[2]


Temperatures in most parts of the United Kingdom began to rise on 25 September, reaching 23 °C in some areas.[2] The warm weather stayed consistent over the next few days and reached 27 °C at Saint Helier in Jersey on 28 September.[3] Temperatures continued to rise and the temperatures recorded on 29 September exceeded those peaked in Costa del Sol, Turkey and Mexico that day at 29 °C in Lincolnshire.[4] This also broke the UK's record high for that day of the year, with 27 °C having been recorded in York on 29 September 1985.[5]

The month of October began with a southerly airstream resulting in some exceptionally high temperatures, reaching 25–28 °C throughout England and Wales.[6] The first of October brought the highest temperatures of the heat wave with 29.9 °C recorded in Gravesend, Kent, the highest ever recorded in the United Kingdom for October, beating the previous October record of 29.4 °C which was set in 1985 in March in Cambridgeshire.[1] The new record also made the first day of October the third-warmest of 2011, although in several places (such as Sennybridge in Powys), 1 October was the hottest day of the year.[7] The annual high temperature was broken in certain places in the west and north. Throughout the month, mild westerly and southerly airstreams brought rain to north-western UK, and further relatively warm and dry days in the south.[6] The Central England Temperature for October was 13.02 °C, almost 2 °C above the 1971–2000 average, and was the warmest October since 2006 and the eighth-warmest in 100 years. There was a marked contrast in rainfall, with amounts ranging from well below average over East Anglia and south-east England to well above in Northern Ireland and western Scotland. Subsequently, sunshine amounts also varied accordingly, from well below normal over Northern Ireland and western Scotland to well above in East Anglia.[6] However, a cold front from the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia brought much cooler air across the whole of the country.[8][9]


The unseasonably warm weather in the United Kingdom saw visitor numbers in Chester Zoo rise by 149% on 28 September.[10] The heat wave also saw an increase of camping and caravan parks and hotel bookings in parts of the country, including Wales.[11][12] Businesses in Winchester have also been said to have been favoured during the period, as a 67% tourism increase was recorded on 30 September from the same day in 2010.[13] A negative effect for many UK businesses was a sales drop, and some clothing retailers suffered their largest for two years, as autumn and winter clothing sales decreased.[14]

The BBC claimed that the unseasonable heat wave caused for low Strictly Come Dancing viewing figures on 30 September, with an alleged loss of one million viewers on the Friday in question. A similar pattern followed the following evening with X Factor on ITV.[15]


Water companies predicted that, owing to the somewhat dry weather throughout 2011, a drought might occur during 2012 if substantial rainfall did not occur over the winter months of 2011–2012.[16]

See also


  1. 1 2 "Britain has hottest October day on record – Taiwan News Online". 1 October 2011. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  2. 1 2 Jackson, Ben (26 September 2011). "82 °F UK warms to Hawaiian heatwave |News". The Sun. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  3. "Heat Wave: Britain Set For Another Scorcher as Temperatures Reach Historic High". Huffington Post. 29 September 2011.
  4. "UK heatwave: Hottest end to September since 1895! Temperature soars to 28C". Daily Mail. 30 September 2011. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  5. "Heatwave breaks records as temperature hits 29C in Lincolnshire". Daily Mirror. 29 September 2011. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  6. 1 2 3 Met Office: UK Climate: October 2011.
  7. "Temperatures soar on hottest day | UK news". The Guardian. 1 October 2011. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  8. "Britain set for heavy rain and snow as Hurricane Ophelia ends mini heatwave". Metro. 3 October 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
  9. "October 6, 2011 surface analysis". Free University of Berlin. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
  10. Cox, Laura. "Merseyside heatwave brings highest September temperatures since 2006 – Liverpool News – News". Liverpool Daily Post. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  11. "Indian summer heatwave prompts surge in bookings, says Friendly Club". Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  12. Devine, Darren (4 October 2011). "Tourist industry enjoys unexpected autumn boost with October heatwave – Wales News – News". WalesOnline. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  13. "Winchester businesses boosted by heatwave (From Hampshire Chronicle)". 6 October 2011. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  14. "Clothing sales wilt in the autumn sun as warm shoppers shun winter ranges". This is Money. 11 October 2011. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  15. Attewill, Fred (4 October 2011). "BBC blames autumn heatwave for fall in Strictly Come Dancing viewing figures". Metro. UK. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  16. "Exceptionally dry weather could lead to drought in 2012, say water companies". The Guardian. 17 November 2011.
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