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Are We Really Set for a 3 Month Heatwave? – Inside the Spanish Plume

map of Britain glowing red

May 2, 2019 by Chris Chapman

Given how much we like talking about the weather here in Britain, it’s probably no surprise that we see news reports of a blistering heatwave every summer! This year is no exception, with headlines promising an epic three-month spell of sweltering heat. Why is this year any different to the other times, you may ask? It’s all to do with something called the Spanish plume – or so the headlines claim…

What is a Spanish Plume?

29 June 2018: Port Isaac, Cornwall, UK - Group of people walking in Fore Street during the summer heatwave.

Are we really set for 3 months of this?

To put it extremely simply, a Spanish plume occurs when hot, dry air moves from Spain into the northeast of Europe. As it moves, it picks up moisture from the Bay of Biscay (the part of the sea between the north coast of Spain and the west coast of France). This creates two “levels” of air – a muggy, humid lower level and a warm, dry higher level. This leads to two things; the first being very high temperatures. The second thing is a massive increase in the risk of freak thunderstorms and hailstorms as the two levels of air crash into one another.

Conditions have to be just right for a Spanish plume to occur, so they usually only appear once every couple of years for a few days at a time. However, if you believe everything you read, this year’s plume is set to last for a massive three months, giving us a summer full of baking heat and tropical thunderstorms. So, should you start digging out the swim shorts and sun cream, or is it all just a load of hot air?

Will the Heatwave Really Last for 3 Months?

6 July 2018: Bude, Cornwall, Uk - The Canal And Lock Gates Stand

Spanish plumes can cause periods of drought followed by flooding when sudden rainstorms occur, so be careful

It might! The conditions all seem to be right for a heatwave, although there’s currently a bank of cold air that’s blowing in from the north, preventing temperatures from climbing too much. This is likely to delay the start of the heatwave a bit – at least until after the bank holiday! By the end of May, though, the Met Office is predicting scorching temperatures of around 28°C.

We recommend stocking up on ice lollies and sun cream in early May before the rush starts – and don’t forget an umbrella in case of those thunderstorms, either! While long-range forecasts aren’t always right, they do give you an idea of what’s more likely to happen.

Preparing for a Heatwave

Whether there’s a Spanish plume or not, the conditions seem to indicate we’re in for a long, hot summer. Here are a few things to help you make the most of the heatwave!

Insect Repellent

You want to make sure you’re stocked up on insect repellent in time for the hot weather. Summer is the time that the UK’s pests are most active, so you’ll want some anti-insect cream and an electric fly killer at a minimum. Most people forget about this until they’re in the middle of a swarm of bugs, which is what causes the insect repellent shortage every year – don’t be most people!

BBQs

BBQ grill

Summer is great for firing up the barbie!

All it takes is a bit of sunshine on a weekend and disposable BBQ sets fly off the shelves. If the predictions are accurate, we could be set for a lot of very sunny weekends, so now’s the perfect time to pick up a quality kettle grill while you can.

Air Coolers

You probably know about fans, but in an intense heatwave, a fan might not be enough to keep you cool. However, you probably won’t want to splash out hundreds on an expensive air con unit that you might only end up using a few times a year! An air cooler gives you more cooling power than a fan for a fraction of the cost of an air con unit, so you can keep them around the house without worrying about spending hundreds on a luxury you don’t need.

Sun Cream

We don’t need to explain this one, but bear in mind that it will absolutely fly off the shelves as soon as there’s so much as a ray of sunshine! It’s best to stock up now so you can keep yourself covered all summer long.

 

Air Cooling & Air Conditioning, Lifestyle

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