Why is the UK summer weather so bad and when will it improve?

The UK has seen a considerable decrease in temperatures across the country compared to the previous week.

Spectators shelter from the rain on a court as they wait for the start of play on day seven of the 2024 Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London. Picture date: Sunday July 7, 2024. (Photo by Jordan Pettitt/PA Images via Getty Images)
Spectators shelter from the rain at Wimbledon on Sunday. (Getty)

The UK has had a bleak start to July, with torrential rain, thunder and chilly temperatures disappointing those who were looking forward to a warm summer.

After a bright end to June with temperatures above 30C in some places, the mercury has now cooled to around 20C. However, some forecasters predict that a return to 30C temperatures could come before the month is up.

Netweather TV claim that the hotter temperatures will arrive on 23 and 24 July, due to a large body of warm air moving up from the Iberian peninsula. They say that London and the south of England will likely feel minimum temperatures of 27C, with a possibility of it reaching 30C.

They say: “Generally, it looks likely to become hot in central Europe and cool in the eastern North Atlantic, with Britain lying on the boundary, suggesting that temperatures will be near or slightly below average in Northern Ireland and some other western parts of Britain, but probably above normal overall in the east of both England and Scotland. One or two short hot interludes are possible chiefly for the east and south-east of England.”

The Met Office say it is hard to predict weather longer term, with predictability “low” at this point. However, they state that “there are some signs of a slightly greater than normal chance of a more prolonged settled spell developing at some point” from 24 July, adding that it is “perhaps more likely in the south”.

The forecaster adds that “above average temperatures” and “drier than average conditions” are slightly more favoured.

The current weather in the UK can be attributed to a strong jet stream in the Atlantic, which is contributing to the changeable nature of the weather from late June into early July.

Much of the UK is positioned on the cooler side of the jet, resulting in temperatures that are around or slightly below the seasonal average.

However, areas experiencing sunshine will feel relatively warm, particularly in the southern regions.

The jet stream, located around five to seven miles above the Earth’s surface, consists of powerful winds blowing from west to east.

Its high-altitude flow impacts wind and pressure patterns, influencing surface-level weather phenomena like areas of high and low pressure and ultimately shaping the weather we experience.

The unsettled and changeable theme is expected to continue through the majority of the week, according to the Met Office.

Cloud and rain-bearing systems will sometimes cross the UK from the west or southwest, accompanied by periods of stronger winds. However, there are likely to be drier interludes, too, with the best of the more settled weather in the east.

With a generally southerly wind direction, temperatures are expected to rise back to the July norm from the cool beginning to the week, with the potential for wafts of warm continental air to affect the south-east at times.

The following week there are tentative signs that conditions could gradually become a bit more settled, though temperatures are likely to remain around average overall.

Festival-goers leaving at the end of the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm in Somerset. Picture date: Monday July 1, 2024. (Photo by Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images)
The weather held up for Glastonbury last week. (Getty)

The Met Office has noted an emerging trend towards more settled and potentially warmer weather leading up to the second half of July, appearing to have been brought forward from the middle of the month.

This may well continue through to the start of this period with drier conditions a little more likely than normal.

However, as we go through the rest of the month, the latest information suggests that a return to cooler and more unsettled weather is now slightly favoured.

The forecast signals are all rather weak and conflicting, so confidence in a definitive story at this range can be nothing other than very low, the Met Office adds.