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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). 2008, 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2023 were largely fine for this reason - not wall to wall sunshine, but a pleasant mix of sun and cloud.

In 2023 a static high to the north and then north east kept things mainly sunny for much of the month, with 13 full sun days and 9 of sun and cloud. The month had started with the ground already parched after 18 days without rain, but the drought was broken by thunderstorms from the south on 10 and 11 June, with more rain on the 18th and 20th. After a relatively cool the first week, temperatures were in the high twenties, rising to 32 degrees on the 10th and 11th and 31 degrees on the 25th. The last five days of the month were then a bit cooler due to a low to the north west, with a fair bit of cloud and a bit more rain.

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. The temperature reached 28 degrees on the 29th, 31 degrees on the 30th and peaking at 37 degrees on 1 July. Only three days saw any rain.

June 2018 saw high pressure in charge for the first 13 days of the month, but its position - often to the north - meant a mix of sunny and cloudy days. Westerly lows then took over from 14 to 20 June, adding breeziness to the mix, but having little impact on temperatures, which continued to vary from 17 to 25 degrees. On 21 June high pressure returned, bringing unbroken sunshine for the rest of the month and starting a heatwave that lasted until 7 August. Temperatures in this last third of the month were regularly at or close to 30 degrees, a pattern that was to hold for much of July.

In 2024 the Azores High tried to establish itself, but for much of the month we were on the boundary between it and lows to the north east. This created a north or north-westerly airflow, meaning days often started sunny, with cloud then bubbling up and melting away later in the afternoon. Maximum temperatures were mostly in the high teens in the first half of the month and the low 20s thereafter, though there was a brief heatwave from the 23rd to the 26th, with temperatures getting up to 30 degrees on the 26th.

In June 2013 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.

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 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. For example Sunday 3 June, the second day of a four day break for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, saw intense downpours and temperatures of just 12 degrees. 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.

June 2007, 2011 and 2020 also saw lows predominate, though in all three cases they brought welcome rain after very dry springs. In each of the years the month started well - with four days of hot sunshine in 2011, two in 2020, 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.

In 2020, after the driest May on record, the 3rd and the 4th saw a few tantalising drops of rain, but there were good showers on the 5th and heavy rain on the 6th. The month was then frequently windy, with rain on 17 days, and a whole month's worth of it in 24 hours from the 17th to the 18th due to a static low over the UK. However, there was also some sun on at least 18 days, and a four day heatwave from 22 to 25 June, when temperatures got up to 33 degrees.

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.

In June 2019 a kink in the jet stream trapped lows over the UK for the first nineteen days of the month. There were seven thoroughly wet days and six more with some rain, while eleven days were all or mostly cloudy. In the last eleven days of the month high pressure finally set in, however, bringing five full sun days and four more of part sun. The month ended with a mini-heatwave. Temperatures in France and Spain during this time rose to record levels - up to 45 degrees - due to a plume of air from the Sahara, but in the south of England they remained in the low twenties. The one exception was 29 June, a Saturday, when they reached 34 degrees in London and 30 degrees on the south coast. Fine weather, with temperatures in the mid twenties, then continued for the first week of July.

2021 was a reverse of 2019. The first half of the month saw high pressure in charge - at first over Scandinavia and then over the continent - continuing the hot sunny weather that had started at the end of May, after a previously very disappointing spring. This half of the month saw nine days of full sunshine, six of sun and cloud and only one of rain, reaching 27 degrees, 28 degrees and 29 degrees respectively on the three hottest days. But from the 17th onwards a bend in the jet stream trapped slow-moving lows over the south of England (the north and west did much better), bringing rain on 10 of the remaining 15 days of the month and only two really fine days.

2017 was also mixed, starting with three hot days with temperatures in the mid 20s and with a searing heatwave from the 14th to the 21st which included five days (17th to the 21st) of temperatures above 30 degrees in London, the first such run in June since 1976. The thermometer peaked at 35 degrees on the 21st (24 degrees at midnight the previous night), the hottest June day since 1976 and there was much talk of there being another long hot summer like that year. But the weather then reverted to westerly lows, with cool and cloudy (though not wet) weather for the remainder of the month. 4-13 June that year had also seen lows in charge - windy from 4 to 8 June and positively stormy on 6 June, then breezy sun and cloud from 9-13 June.

In 2022 slow-moving lows were in charge up to the 12th and from the 24th onwards, bringing fairly cloudy weather with occasional showers, but in between those dates the Azores high twice established itself, producing four days of full sunshine on the first occasion and three on the second. Temperatures peaked at 33 degrees on the 17th.

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, 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 rather 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 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. In 2022 temperatures reached 16 degrees as early as mid month despite having started it at 13 degrees; they then remained at that level for the rest or the month, however.

The coolness of the sea compared to the land means sea breezes often spring up to keep coastal temperatures cooler than inland. Alternatively if winds are light, sea mists can form. 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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