How does the heat wave compare to the summer of 1976?

BRIGHTON has been basking in the sunshine for the past week and temperatures are set to rise even further with a forecast of 34C on Tuesday.

An extreme heat warning is in place for the weekend and the first half of next week, with the Met Office saying the heatwave could be life threatening.

But how does the current warm weather compare to the 1976 summer heat wave that triggered the most significant drought in more than a century?

The country saw temperatures above 32C for more than two weeks, with temperatures hitting nearly 36C in southern England on July 3 this year.

The heatwave came amid a strike by refuse workers in Brighton, with sunbathers near huge piles of rotting rubbish along the seafront.

The Argus: Uncollected rubbish piled up on Brighton seafront as beachgoers soaked up the sunUncollected rubbish piled up on Brighton seafront as beachgoers soaked up the sun

In an interview with The Argus, then-General Manager of the Royal Albion Hotel Eddie Waters said guests had complained about the smell of the growing piles of rubbish.

He said: “It’s not really a very good advertisement for Brighton. I’m really quite worried from a hygienic point of view.

“Our bins fill up very quickly over the weekend and some guests downstairs have complained about the unpleasant smell.”

The Argus: sunbathers on Brighton beachSunbathers on Brighton Beach

However, the rubbish did not deter residents and visitors who headed to the beach to soak up the sun, as trains at Brighton Station were described as “heavily laden” and traffic in the city was described as “hectic”.

Sunbathers queued outside the now demolished Black Rock bathing pool after a rationing system was put in place after the venue reached capacity.

The Argus: Eight-year-old Gregory McDermott cooled off in Worthing's paddling poolEight-year-old Gregory McDermott cooled off in Worthing’s paddling pool

Meanwhile, firefighters across the county have been placed on high alert after a record-breaking spate of heather fires, with crews in East Sussex coping with up to 70 blazes in 24 hours.

A fire near Midhurst spread across 150 acres of common land and ten fire engines were called out to fight it.

Police officers in the city were allowed to remove their ties in warm weather by order of the Chief Constable. However, workers at the offices of the Department for Health and Social Security, then on Edward Street in Brighton, staged a walkout after temperatures inside rose above 32C.

The Argus: PC Mick Holford on duty in North Road, Brighton after being allowed to remove his tiePC Mick Holford on point duty in North Road, Brighton after being allowed to remove his tie

Some schools in the county even opted for outdoor classes under the trees after students complained they couldn’t concentrate due to hot classrooms.

A hosepipe ban was enforced in Brighton and much of Sussex after a deterioration in water supplies, with the river flow reportedly having dropped to 20 per cent of normal levels. However, local residents were left in their arms after thousands of gallons of water were sprayed onto Brighton racecourse ahead of a meeting.

The Argus: Residents turned red-faced after Brighton Racecourse used thousands of gallons of water to spray the track during a hose banLocal residents turned red-faced after Brighton Racecourse used thousands of gallons of water to spray the track during a hose ban

Tomato pickers in Littlehampton took a novel approach to staying cool in warm weather – with a light aircraft flown in from Shoreham to spray whitewash over glass greenhouses.

Anthony Gardener, manager of Van-Heyningen Nurseries, told The Argus at the time: “The staff have been really good and have been working in these temperatures. We have to give it to them.

“They did their part for us, now it’s up to us to make their lives a little bit easier.”

The Argus: During the 1976 heatwave, an aircraft completes part of its whitewash run over greenhouses in LittlehamptonAn aircraft completes part of its whitewash run over greenhouses in Littlehampton during the 1976 heatwave

The heat wave and drought came to an abrupt end when violent thunderstorms swept across the country, bringing heavy rains in September and October 1976.

The warm weather brought with it one of the hottest average summer temperatures in Britain, as well as one of the driest, sunniest and warmest summers of the 20th century.

The effects of the drought on water supplies led to water rationing, with rivers drying up in parts of the country.

The summer was so hot that it has become part of the country’s national psyche, with subsequent heat waves using 1976 as a gauge of their severity.

https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/20281219.heatwave-compare-summer-1976/?ref=rss How does the heat wave compare to the summer of 1976?

Fry Electronics Team

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