UK weather: Europe swelters in heatwaves while UK remains cool - what's going on with the weather?

The longest day of the year is almost here, but there has been barely a hint of summer in the UK - while parts of Europe swelter in record-breaking heat. 

Greece recorded its earliest ever heatwave last week, as temperatures soared about 38C for more than three days running.

It's a huge contrast to the weather in the UK, which has been "disappointingly cool" so far this month, Sky News meteorologist Steff Gaulter says.

So what's going on - and is our weather finally going to get better?

A tale of two summers

The UK has felt far from summery for much of June.

"It seems like we're one to three degrees below normal for this time of year," David Schultz, a professor of Synoptic Meteorology at The University of Manchester, told Sky News.

That's because we've had either an area of low pressure over us, or winds being dragged down from the Arctic, Gaulter explains.

The cooler weather has also been affecting some other parts of northwest Europe as well.

But, while this has been going on, southeastern Europe has been covered by hot winds blazing in from North Africa.

"The air over North Africa has been even hotter than usual this year, so this has raised the temperature even further," she says.

Is the weather in the UK set to improve?

For most parts of the UK, the weather should settle down for a time this week, Gaulter says.

But don't get your hopes up for a heatwave - that's likely to be a short-term reprieve before things turn unsettled again at the end of the week and for the weekend.

On Thursday - the longest day of the year - the Met Office is forecasting a dry day for most, reaching up to 21C and "feeling warm where you catch the sunshine".

Where are the European hotspots?


Temperatures peaked at almost 45C (113F) on Thursday during Greece's earliest recorded heatwave.

The definition in Greece for a heatwave is over 38C for three days or more, Gaulter explains - something that usually happens in July or August.

"This is the first time that a heatwave has hit Greece before 15 June and the records in Athens date back to 1890," she says.

Authorities closed the Acropolis and all other archaeological sites in the Greek capital on Wednesday and Thursday due to the heat.

Officials were on high alert for wildfires, which have plagued Greece in particular in the summer months in recent decades. Temperatures are expected to rise again from this week, although not to heatwave levels.

Several tourists have died or gone missing on Greek islands, with many setting out on hikes in high temperatures.

The body of a missing American man was found on Sunday, the day after the body of a Dutch man was discovered six days after he'd last been seen walking in blistering heat.

And officials are continuing to search for three missing tourists in The Cyclades group of islands.


The island has reportedly hit record temperatures for June with temperatures exceeding 40C last week.

Two elderly people died due to the heat and three more are in hospital, according to Cyprus health officials.

Wildfires broke out near the capital Nicosia, where more than 1.2 square miles of forest was scorched, threatening a village.

In the island's western Paphos district, 49 people from two communities were evacuated to hotels as a wildfire threatened their homes.


Temperatures in Turkey exceeded 40C last week, with 66 million people in the country exposed to extreme heat over a three-day period, according to Climate Central.

Authorities in Istanbul issued an extreme heat warning and wildfires broke out in at least seven locations, local media reported.

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Holiday booked in a hotspot? What to do

There are currently no Foreign Office travel warnings related to hot weather in Europe.

However, the Foreign Office advises people travelling to countries where wildfires are common in summer to be cautious and follow advice from local authorities.

If you change your holiday plans due to the weather, it's unlikely to be covered by your travel insurance unless a travel warning is issued, so normal cancellation fees would apply.

Holidaymakers should follow heat precautions including avoiding the sun in the middle of the day, staying hydrated and applying sun cream.

What about the rest of the summer?

Europe is set to experience hotter than average temperatures in the second half of the summer, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service's (C3S) forecast covering July to September.

The south of the continent is forecast to be drier than average, while the far north is set to be wetter than normal.

In terms of what the UK is in for, Gaulter says there "are no clear signals either way" at this point.

"We will have to wait and see."