Recent data released by the European Drought Observatory show that about 60% of Europe and the United Kingdom is currently in danger of drought. In mid-July, an area of high pressure settled over western Europe, bringing clear-sky, dry conditions and high insolation. A hot air flow from North Africa ahead of a trough moving north-eastwards from west of Portugal also led to heatwave conditions which affected most of western Europe.
Temperatures soared to above 40°C for at least one day in Portugal, Spain, France and the United Kingdom. In particular, the UK saw a national daily maximum temperature record of 40.3°C, set at Coningsby in Lincolnshire on the 19th of July, the first time that the country ever recorded a temperature of over 40°C. In general, the data indicates that the previous UK temperature record of 38.7°C (recorded in July 2019) was met or exceeded at 46 stations across the country.
Unless temperatures in August are more than 0.45°C below average, this summer will be one of the five hottest on record.Copernicus Climate Change Service
According to data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service, Western Europe in general saw a larger number of days with temperatures above 30°C, 35°C and 40°C than a typical July. While the heatwave was very intense in terms of daily temperature extremes in some regions of western Europe, reaching local and national records, it was mainly the longevity of the period with daily maximum temperatures between 35°C and 40°C that characterized July, rather than the very extreme temperatures of above 40°C, particularly in southwestern Europe.
The number of days above 30°C was also well above average but, as for the number of days above 35°C, generally not record-breaking. The low number of days above 35°C in southeastern Europe is also noteworthy, again indicating that the heat mainly affected the southwest.
Europe experienced dry conditions during most of July, with much of the continent seeing rainfall and, in particular, soil moisture well below average. The month began with conditions already dry, following a drier-than-average June over the UK, Ireland, Italy and most of the Iberian Peninsula, in addition to a large region stretching from the northern Balkans across eastern Europe and to north-western Russia.
July began with conditions already dry, following a drier-than-average June over the UK, Ireland, Italy and most of the Iberian Peninsula, in addition to a large region stretching from the northern Balkans across eastern Europe and to north-western Russia.
In France, where July was the second driest month since records began. With a total rainfall of 9.7 mm, last month was the driest July since records began in 1959, according to the French meteorological and climate service. This represents a rainfall deficit of 85% compared to the average for the 1991-2020 reference period. The previous records dated back to July 2020 with 16.7 mm of precipitation, and July 1964 with 24.7 mm.
Persistent lack of precipitation since December 2021 has had a major impact in northern Italy, where the Po River completely disappeared in places. In late June, the flow measured at Pontelagoscuro, near Ferrara, fell below an average of 145 cubic meters per second (the historic average flow for June is 1,805 cubic meters per second). In mid-July at Cremona – roughly halfway along the Po – the water was more than 8 meters below “hydrographic zero”. These dry conditions adversely affected energy production, agriculture and river transport in the region.
The situation in the Po Valley later improved thanks to precipitation towards the end of the month, resulting in a water level increase of 40 centimeters for the river, although hydropower production in the region was still affected, as the Enel Green Power hydroelectric plant in Isola Serafini (Monticelli d’Ongina, Piacenza) remained offline.