August in the Northern Hemisphere usually marks the start of the dog days of summer, when temperatures scorch, and humidity weighs people down. In London, the capital of the United Kingdom, the weather in August is moderately pleasant, although climate change impacts the city as the world’s oceans become hotter.
The city’s climate — and that of the entire United Kingdom, for that matter — is influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. The Gulf Stream, which hugs the East Coast of the United States, and then slides toward Western Europe, greatly affects London’s weather by channeling warm water from the Gulf of Mexico into the Northern Atlantic.
Interestingly, the UK is parallel with the colder regions of Canada. While the two are relatively the same distance from the equator, the UK is warmer because of the Gulf Stream.
Let’s look at what August is like in Britain’s largest city.
The weather fronts that roll in off the ocean are responsible for the UK’s seemingly ever-present cloudiness and rains. But in August, the sun tends to peak out more often than not.
Compared with the rest of the country, London’s weather tends to skew toward the mild and warmer side. That’s partly because the city sits in a basin ringed by hills, including the North Downs in the south. The hills shelter the city resulting in less rainfall than in other parts of the country. However, when high pressure arrives in winter, the irrepressible London fog rolls in.
Because London is a large city, it becomes an urban heat island in the summer. Urban heat islands form when a city’s concrete walkways, paved roads, and steel soak up the sun’s energy. These surfaces absorb heat during the day, making the city hotter than it normally would be.
The average temperature during the day hovers around 72 degrees Fahrenheit (depending on the source you look at) and seldom falls below 63 degrees. The temperature also struggles to get above 83 during the day. At night, the temperature, on average, nosedives to around 54 degrees.
Of course, there are aberrations. In 2012, for example, temperatures plummeted across Great Britain on August 30 when the mercury dropped to 28 degrees — the coldest August night in 40 years. In 2020, temperatures at Heathrow Airport just outside London spiked to 97.5 degrees, the hottest August day in 17 years.
Spurred on by climate change, heat waves are becoming more norm than anomalies in the summer. The city broke a record in July 2022 when the thermometer shot up to 104.4 degrees, shattering the previous record of 100.2 set in August 2003.
It generally rains about eight to 10 days in August, with an average rainfall of around 2.79 inches. On August 18, 2022, flash floods inundated the city when torrential storms slammed into southern England.
On average, there are about 23 sunny days in August. The sun shines, on average, 6.5 hours a day.
Things to Do in August
While London is always bustling, August is perhaps the best time to visit the city chiefly because of its weather. One of the most popular events is the three-day Notting Hill Carnival, a Caribbean festival celebrating the culture of Britain’s West Indian community. It is one of the largest street festivals in Europe.
The city also hosts what organizers describe as “the world’s greatest classical music festival” — the Proms. The season begins in mid-July and runs through the first week in September. The Proms had its genesis in France in the 1830s and later migrated to Royal Albert Hall and other venues in London. For those who are interested, the name is the short form of Promenade concerts.
London is also famous for its Tower of London, where visitors can view the Royal Family’s crown jewels. Erudite tour guides are extremely knowledgeable about the tower’s bloody history. It can be a great place to spend a rainy day. For those who enjoy plays, the West End Theatre is always a good place to spend your time. Theatergoers can get tickets at the last minute for many of the shows.
Moreover, London is a museumgoer’s dream. One of the most popular is the British Museum, where millions of years of human history and culture are on display. London is also home to the Natural History Museum, where 80 million objects are stored, although visitors can only see a small number.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © ESB Professional/Shutterstock.com
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