Heatwave: Highest August temperature for almost 20 years recorded at 29.2 degrees

Met Éireann forecasts 30 degrees could be breached for the first time since 2003 on Thursday

The highest temperature for August in almost 20 years has been recorded and it is expected to get hotter over of the coming days.

A value of 29.2 degrees at Met Éireann’s Oak Park station was recorded at 3pm on Wednesday, the highest since the 30.3 degrees maximum at Balderrig, Co Mayo on August 8th, 2003.

The highest ever temperatures recorded in Ireland in August was 31.5 degrees at Oak Park on August 2nd, 1995.

Indications are that 30 degrees could be breached for the first time since 2003 on Thursday. That temperature on Met Éireann’s own website is forecast for Oak Park and also for Kilkenny.

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Met Éireann forecaster Liz Gavin said the all-time record temperature for August is “one to watch over the coming days”.

On Wednesday there were highs of 27.4 degrees at Casement Aerodrome, 27.2 degrees at Gurteen, Co Tipperary and 26.9 degrees at the Phoenix Park.

The forecast suggests the very hot weather will remain in place until Sunday with highs of 29 degrees in many places.

A status yellow weather warning for high temperatures is in place for all the counties of Leinster and Munster from Wednesday until Sunday at 6am.

The warning, which advises people to be cautious in the hot weather, states night-time temperatures will generally stay above 15 degrees.

Met Éireann said, while maximum temperatures may be between 27 and 29 degrees, coastal areas should be cooler due to sea breezes.

Senior forecaster with Met Éireann Gerry Murphy said the high temperatures forecast for the next few days meet the categorisation of a heatwave. Speaking to RTÉ Radio’s Today show, Mr Murphy explained the definition for a heatwave in Ireland is temperatures in excess of 25 degrees for a period of five days in succession.

“In this case, while we don’t expect the temperature to reach quite as high as it did recently, we do expect the temperatures will be in the high 20s in a good part of the country for five days in succession, which should categorise it as a heatwave.” Mr Murphy added that it was not unusual to have two hot spells in a summer.

An orange-level high fire warning is now in effect for the entire country from midday on Wednesday until next Tuesday.

The alert states that a high fire risk is deemed to exist in all areas where hazardous fuels such as dead grasses and shrub fuels such as heather and gorse exist.

“A high-pressure system currently positioned over Ireland will influence high air temperatures, low daytime humidity and light windspeeds during the rest of this week and into the weekend,” it reads.

The State’s interim chief medical officer Prof Breda Smyth issued a warning to the public to take care in the sun over the coming days. Prof Smyth said older people, young children and babies would be more vulnerable to the effects of the hot weather.

Signs of heat exhaustion can include headache, dizziness, loss of appetite, fast breathing or pulse, high temperature of 38 degrees or above, and being very thirsty. While usually not serious if someone can cool down within 30 minutes, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, which Prof Smyth said should be treated as an emergency.

“If you feel unwell, or you or your children display any of the above symptoms immediately move to a cool place, rest and hydrate. If needed, seek medical attention,” she said.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has also warned people to take steps to avoid getting sunburned in the sunny weather, which can lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Met Éireann said while Sunday may also see similar high temperatures of 29 degrees, there is a growing chance of rain, which it said could be heavy. The national forecaster said from Monday onwards temperatures will drop back closer to average levels.

Meanwhile, climatologist John Sweeney has warned the world was effectively reaping the rewards of inaction on climate change. Recent heatwaves in Europe were a consequence of the lack of action, he told RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland.

“We’re seeing a more marked intensification of heatwaves, a more marked intensification of the frequency and intensity of them by three to four times the average for this part of the middle latitudes.

“It’s something that we have been telling people about for many years now but certainly this has been a brutal summer in much of Europe. We know now for example that the heatwave last month in the UK was 10 times more likely as a consequence of what we’ve been doing to climate.

“So, we’re effectively reaping the rewards of much of the inaction that the globe has had on this topic over many years now and that consequence is coming home to roost big time in Europe.” Prof Sweeney said that river flows had dramatically reduced over much of the Continent.

The river Rhine was down to less than 50cm in depth near Koblenz, effectively cutting off that artery of transport and freight.

The river Po in Northern Italy was down to about 10 per cent of its average flow at this time of year, while Spain had suffered more than most European countries from the whole sequence of heatwaves this summer, he added.

Europe was running out of water and heatwaves were now being named in an effort to sensitise people in the same way the public was sensitised to winter storms and to hurricanes.

“It’s an example of Europe going down this road of increasing extremes and increasing hardship and not just in terms of consequences but in terms of mortality. The official statistics from Spain and Portugal are showing now that over 1,000 people died in that spike in temperatures last month. We can expect to see that happening in many other parts of Europe as the data comes out.

“Heatwaves have consequences for us all.” Prof Sweeney said that drought will threaten harvests in Europe with “savage reductions” in the rice harvest in Italy, while the cereal harvest will also be considerably reduced, and there will also be an impact on milk production in Ireland.

“Industrially we’re going to see quite serious consequences from those very low river flows, if, for example, the Rhine becomes closed to navigation, which is not unlikely in the next few weeks, then we’re going to see movement of freight on to more expensive road and rail arteries.

“We’re going to see cost of living problems being enhanced, reductions in hydro power, reductions in nuclear power from reduction in cooling water availability. We’re going to see all sorts of consequences that we haven’t even thought about in terms of reductions in Alpine glaciers that feed those rivers in the longer term.

“It has quite serious consequences in a knock on way.”

Department of Health advice for the sun:

  • Regularly and liberally apply sunscreen that has a sun protection factor of at least 30+ for adults and 50+ for children
  • Stay out of direct sunlight for prolonged periods as much as possible during the day, especially between the hours of 11am to 3pm when UV is strongest
  • Wear light and loose-fitting clothing that covers your skin, wear a hat and sunglasses
  • Make sure you have enough water to drink; an adult needs approximate 2 litres of liquid over 24 hours.
  • Other risks to be mindful of during this spell of hot weather are heat exhaustion and heat stroke
Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times

Vivienne Clarke

Vivienne Clarke is a media monitor and reporter