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June weather


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The weather in June can be glorious: the sun really starts to pack a punch. One starts to sit in the shade rather than the sun, and you really feel that summer has arrived. This is the first month in the year when it really can be too hot - the flaming June of popular legend – and particularly towards the end of the month temperatures can be as hot as they ever get the whole summer.

The Azores High

Flaming June quite often lives up to its reputation, with the weather staying sunny (or mainly sunny) for much of the month. The reason is high pressure extending up from the continent or the Azores (to the south west of the UK). 2002, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2014 and 2015 were all examples of this, with the month seeing only the odd grey or wet day.

For instance, despite May 2006 having been very wet and cool, 3 June saw perfect blue skies, and it remained hot and sunny all month. Temperatures several times reached into the low 30s, night time temperatures were as high as 20 degrees, and there were only a couple of days of rain (one, inevitably, being the first day of the Wimbledon Championships).

2009 and 2010 were almost as good. In both years highs gave away to cooler, showery conditions only briefly, from 6 to 11 June in 2009 and 6 to 12 June in 2010. Both months were otherwise sunny, ending in heatwaves that saw temperatures regularly in the high 20s and soaring to 31 degrees on 27 June 2010 and 32 degrees on 30 June 2009.

In 2008 and 2014 the sunshine was not unbroken and there was occasional rain, but sun and scattered cloud was the dominant pattern. Temperatures remained pleasant, in the low to mid 20s. In 2015 after a deep low for the first two days of the month, there was variable sun and cloud throughout the month - sometimes cloudy, sometimes full sun but often a mix of the two, with temperatures also in the low to mid 20s. On the last two days of the month heat increased, reaching 28 degrees on the 29th, 31 degrees on the 30th and peaking at 37 degrees on 1 July. Only three days saw any rain.

Years that disappointed

In other years, June can see quite heavy rain, as the example of the Wimbledon tennis championships prove. They start in the last week of the month, and are either a time of blazing hot sun or incessant stop/start showers interrupting play.

2012 was a famously disappointing June - the wettest on record, in fact, with twice the normal rainfall, and one of the least sunny on record too. This was particularly depressing after a similiarly wet April and a largely wet May. There were a scattering of sunny days, though even then temperatures remained in the high teens, with just one brief burst of hotter, humid sunshine on the 27th and 28th, when temperatures reached 28 degrees. Mainly, however, the month was cloudy and windy, with showers and heavier bursts of rain. A good example was the river pageant held on the Sunday 3 June, the second day of a four day break for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, which saw intense downpours and temperatures of just 12 degrees.

June 2007 and 2011 also saw westerly lows predominate, though in both cases they brought welcome rain after very dry springs. In both years the month started well - with four days of hot sunshine in 2011, and with the first two weekends being sunny in 2007. 2011 then saw regular rain throughout the month, but with most days having some sunshine, and a brief heatwave on the 26th and 27th, when temperatures reached up to 33 degrees. In 2007 it did not rain until 13 June, ending a 15 day drought, but by this time, the midlands and the north were seeing floods, and from 22 June onwards heavy rain also came to the south east.

June 2016 was also disappointing, despite a brief sunny period from the 4th to the 9th, punctuated by thunderstorms on the 7th and with maximum temperatures of 25 degrees. Other than this it was cloudy and dominated by low pressure, with ten days having heavy showers or longer periods of rain - heavy enough on 23 June to cause flooding across the south east. From the 24th to the 29th there was a mix of sunshine and cloud, however. Top temperatures were just 16 degrees mid month, but 18-21 degrees in the last 12 days.

The weather was more pleasantly mixed in June 2013, when the Azores High was never far away to the south west and regularly edged up to produce sunny weather. There were cloudless skies from the 4th to the 8th, with temperatures reaching 22 degrees, and hot sun with temperatures reaching 26 degrees on the 19th and also the 29th and 30th. In between it was quite cloudy and at times rather windy, with a little bit of rain and temperatures in the high teens.

Sometimes June starts one way and ends the other. 2001 was an example of a relatively wet start to the month, followed by hot sunny weather from the third week onwards. In 2004, the pattern reversed: a generally hot and sunny first half gave away to a much more unsettled second half, with one intense wet and windy storm and plenty of heavy showers.

2005 also saw a very mixed first half, with sunshine alternating with disappointingly cool, grey weekend days, with stiff winds. But the difference this year was that there was only one day of rain in the first half – on 15 June. The third weekend was then blazing hot (33 degrees on Sunday 19 June), setting off a week long heatwave, before the weather turned showery for the last four days.

Whatever the weather, people complain about it: if it is grey or wet everyone says we are not having a summer at all this year, and if it is sunny they moan about the heat. During heatwaves, nights can be very sticky, with temperatures in the high teens, but even in cooler Junes night time temperatures are still around 12 or 13 degrees, meaning one rarely needs an extra layer of clothing.

The longest days come too soon

June is the month of the longest days, of course, but they always seem to have come too soon, and there is that pang one gets from realising that the days are already shortening when summer has hardly begun. One always feels in June that one is not really making the best of the long summer evenings, that one is in fact spending far too many of them inside, or at work. And no matter how early you get up, you still feel you should have been up earlier.

Sunset at midsummer (and indeed for much of the month) is 9.20pm, though useful light lasts till 9.50pm and there is some kind of afterglow until 10.30pm. Sunrise is 4.43am at its earliest, though it is getting light by 4am.

The sea in June tends to still be too cold for swimming, with temperatures just 13 degrees at the start of the month, edging up to 15 or 16 degrees by its end, when it starts to feel bearable, especially in hot sunshine. Two extreme years in recent times were 2014, when sea temperatures were as high as 15 degrees right from the start of the month, having been unusually warm all winter; and 2013 when they reached just 12.5 degrees by the end of the month, after being two degrees cooler than average throughout the winter.

The coolness of the sea compared to the land means that sea mists can form on hot days, or sea breezes spring up to keep coastal temperatures markedly cooler than inland. For example, 26 June 2011 was a hot sunny day in the south east, with cloudless skies and temperatures of 29 degrees. But from Hastings to Eastbourne, a cold grey sea mist clung to the seafront for much of the morning. Extending no more than 200 metres inland, it eventually burned off in the early afternoon.

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