The final day of the year is a good time to look back at the year’s weather and forward to what might happen next. Weather in the UK in 2019 did not match the two major events of the previous year – the “beast from the east” of February and March 2018 and that summer’s World Cup heatwave.
We did, however, see the UK’s record high when, on 25 July, the temperature at Cambridge Botanic Garden reached 38.7C (101.7F), narrowly beating the previous high of 38.5C set in Kent in August 2003.
For the first time, however, television and newspaper reports did not treat high temperatures with unalloyed glee. Instead, they rightly regarded this as a clear indication that climate change and global warming – now more properly called the climate emergency and global heating – have begun to take hold.
The marker of this new weather is, above all, unpredictability, which makes it harder to keep faith in the old certainties of weather lore. So, as a valedictory farewell to the old year, I leave you with this ancient rhyme:
If New Year’s Eve the wind bloweth south,
It betokeneth warmth and growth,
If west, much milk, and fish in the sea;
If north, much cold, and storms there will be;
If east, the trees will bear much fruit,
If north-east, flee it man and brute.
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