There is some very warm air on the way for the end of the week, indeed the end of May. Lifting temperatures well into the twenties Celsius and this time it isn’t just the SE of England. Western and northern parts of the UK will see the highest temperatures, peaking around 25 to 27C which puts the descriptions of ‘very warm’ and even ‘hot’ into the forecast.
And the “heatwave” banner is out of the cupboard. And it is only May. The threshold temperatures vary around the UK from 25C in Scotland, Northern Ireland, most of Wales, northern England and SW England to 28C for greater London.
If the threshold temperature is reached or exceeded for three consecutive days, you can shout heatwave officially. Northern Scotland is forecast to see 27C Friday, Saturday Sunday for the NW Highlands. Manchester around 26C, Glasgow at 24C so Strathclyde could see 25C for three days.
Inland southern England has been very warm today into the mid 20sC. Somerset and Gloucestershire, Cheshire and Merseyside reach the mid-20s on Thursday as will central Ireland and inland for western counties of Northern Ireland. Eastern Scotland also faring well in a westerly wind.
By Friday much of the UK will be into the 20sC with high temperatures for northern Scotland with a southerly breeze. With more of an easterly breeze Essex, Suffolk and Kent won’t be as warm and with a brisk SE wind, neither will south Devon.
At the weekend there will be a noticeable easterly wind off the North Sea and low cloud at times. This keeps the temperatures subdued but still warmth for northern and western Britain.
Remember your sunscreen, UV levels are moderate to high, even very high. The pollen levels are high in places too and air pollution at the weekend is forecast to be moderate for southern Britain.
For anyone wanting to see the Crew Dragon flight, astronauts Doug Hurley & Bob Behnken lift off at 4:33 pm ET, part of #LaunchAmerica. NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 launch to the International Space Station should be visible as it passes over Europe this evening. About 9:50pm BST, there should be clear skies for much of England and Wales but with a warm front moving past NW Scotland there will be rain here and more cloud. Broken cloud over Northern Ireland and SE and southern Scotland but thicker further north. There will be cirrus over NW England and the Irish Sea There will also be some low cloud coming in off the North Sea for eastern England. The launch is on the NASA website.
Rainfall and water levels
Once that front has cleared by Thursday morning, that is it really for rain. There is a very small chance of a heavy shower over the NW Highlands but overall, it is a dry forecast and the long dry spell is already causing concerns.
Looking back many parts of the UK had a very wet autumn and winter. There was the terrible flooding, wettest February on record and then a change to settled dry, sunny weather about when lockdown started.
However, parts of NE Britain had a drier than average winter and the ongoing lack of rain is already an issue. For much of the UK March and April were drier than average and May has hardly seen any rain either. Farmers and growers need water from above, they need rainfall. Irrigation and water abstraction add to costs and there is only so much water around anyway.
"Livestock farmers are being advised to start planning now for possible drought conditions over the summer months. A very dry spring has left many livestock farmers with limited grass growth to meet the growing demand for feed following lambing and calving. Some farms have reported grass growth to be 40% behind the long-term average and growth continues to be restricted by a lack of moisture." Farming charity Forage Aid.
This follows the flooding in November 2019 “with many livestock farmers seeing immediate negative impacts as forage and bedding have been damaged or washed away by flood waters.” The extremes of our UK weather each year are causing real hardships.
Eastern Scotland has alerts for water scarcity from SEPA. Moderate for River and soil moisture levels in the Tweed catchment. Groundwater levels are falling steadily across the country. Levels in the North-East of Scotland are very low. There is now water user advice for private water supplies, farmers and “Managers of golf courses” as the Scottish golf courses ready for opening on Friday.
Environment Agency “Soils across England were drier than average for the time of year. End of month groundwater levels were classed as normal or higher at the majority of sites reported on. Total reservoir stocks across England were at 89% capacity at the end of April.” NE and NW England were much drier. We await the May report.