Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!
Last week, I reviewed Judy Garland’s final film, I Could Go On Singing, which is set in London. Tina reviewed the final book in the Detective Gaby Darin series, Cold Grave by Jenny O’Brien. Tina is taking a break from a different series when the second book, The House at Sea’s End by Elly Griffiths, didn’t impress her as much as the first book did. ShellieJ joined us for the first time to share her review of A Very English Murder by Verity Bright
The highest temperature ever experienced in the British Isles, 40.3 °C (104.5 °F), was recorded on Tuesday, in Coningsby, Lincolnshire. That smashed the previous record of 38.7 °C (101.7 °F) set in July of 2019.
We might see 104 °F in St. Louis tomorrow. That’s hot for us. Some summers, we don’t see 100 °F. But it’s nowhere near our record. During the infamous 1954 heat wave in the Midwest, St. Louis recorded a high temperature of 115 °F. This was back before air conditioning was common. I remember hearing stories from people about sleeping on second story “sun porches” and in cellars. On that hottest night, people slept in the parks.
In the 21st century, St. Louis is much better prepared for heat waves. Although, I have a friend who works with our unhoused community members. She says that we don’t do as well as Louisville, Kentucky at making sure that there are places for people to get cool, especially at night.
The British Isles don’t have the infrastructure to handle this much heat.
When we traveled in England in 2014, only one of the three hotel rooms we stayed in had air conditioning. It was unseasonably warm for September. We enjoyed our time outdoors and in the cool of big museum buildings, but we were uncomfortable at night.
Very few residences in the British Isles have air conditioning. People put sheets or plywood over their south-facing windows to try to keep their houses as cool as possible on Monday and Tuesday.
The transportation infrastructure didn’t handle the heat either. Railroad tracks buckled, disrupting train travel. Plane travel was also disrupted when runways melted at some of the airports. Of course, if runways melt, so do roads — that caused traffic problems. This article in the Daily Mail explained that the UK infrastructure is designed to withstand rain and cool temperatures, since that’s what is usually experienced there.
Wildfires were rampant in Europe due to the heat, including a scary looking one on the edge of London. The local pub became the evacuation center.
That fire is out as I write this on Wednesday, but they’re still assessing the damage. The church (the building with the castellated tower) seems to have survived although the churchyard is completely blackened. Close to 20 homes were destroyed, but no lives were lost.
According to this article in The Telegraph, London’s fire-fighters had their busiest day since World War II.
Are you experiencing unusual heat where you live?