We check the data with Hastings Met Office

The official figures are in. If summer is defined as the three months of June, July and August, the 2018 season has proved to be only the second warmest overall in the town’s history since the local Met office started producing overall measurements in 1875. The mean air temperature – that’s the average, day and night – was 18.3 degrees centigrade compared to the long-term average of 16.85.  Sea temperatures were also significantly above average: 18.7 degrees compared to 16.89. But the three summer months of 1976 still come out marginally warmer in mean air temperatures at 18.4 degrees.

If no other years in recorded history show a longer drought – almost seven weeks officially between 2 June and 20 July with less than a millimetre of rainfall – there have been higher maximum temperatures in several years, and past individual months outranking this summer in average heat and sunshine hours. In July 2006 the mean temperature for the month was 21 degrees; in August 1947 20.1. The record maximum this year was 29.9 degrees on 1 July whereas in June 1976 it was 32.3.

But it’s not all random. Bill Montgomery, Met Office record keeper, gave raw data to a computer programming friend David Oakes, who points out a trend he calls both ‘interesting and disturbing’. Looking at the temperature figures for each month of May over the entire period since 1875, six out of the ten hottest have occurred in the last 20 years; for June it’s equally striking – five out of the ten hottest in the last 15 years; for July, five out of the ten in the last 25 years, but only two of them in the 100 years before 1976. August has a wider spread, but still six of the hottest ten since 1975.

Conclusion: the heat is on – not from one year to the next, but decade by decade over the past 40 years. Like the tide flowing on Hastings beach, it’s not each wave that marks a new level up the sand.  But nevertheless, it looks like it’s coming in.

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