Temperatures rising, but are summers really not what they used to be?

Photo: CTK

The mercury's rising here in the Czech Republic, with maximum daytime temperatures sitting comfortably at 30 degrees Celsius for days on end, and thunderstorms becoming a regular feature of the evenings. Pubs and ice-cream salesmen might be rejoicing in the tropical weather, but those people wilting in stuffy offices or baking in cars are of course less enthusiastic. Rob Cameron reports.

Photo: CTK
The weather forecast for the next few days could have been written anytime in the last week or two, and, it seems, will stand for the weeks to come: warm air coming from southern Europe, clear skies and temperatures of 30 to 34 degrees, followed by a few days of stormy weather, followed by more hot and sunny days and so on and so on.

The tropical weather's not to everyone's liking. Older people and those with heart conditions are particularly at risk, and there have already been several heat-related deaths. You often hear people saying "summers weren't like this when I was a kid". Yes they were, says Vladimir Seifert from the Czech Meteorological Office. You just don't remember them.

"Such temperatures as this year occur very often. When people aren't satisfied, when they feel that it's too hot, they usually say 'it wasn't like this in the past'. But if you study the low-term records during history, you'll find similar temperatures throughout the whole history of our observations in our country. It depends on the direction of the general atmospheric circulation. If we receive air from the south and south-west, such temperatures are normal. But if we receive air from the north-east or north-east, even in July it can be only about 22-23 degrees."

So there you have it. As for that other oft-repeated claim "it's global warming" - meteorologists such as Vladimir Seifert prefer to leave that one to the climatologists. The study of climate change involves measurements of thousands, even millions of years, and is not - unfortunately for the armchair meteorologists among us - based on vague memories of milder or longer summers.

So the only thing we can say with any degree of certainty is that it's hot today and will be hot tomorrow, so we should dress and act accordingly. But does a meteorologist enjoy these scorching, sultry summer days?

"Do I enjoy it? No, not so much. I'd be happier if the summer temperature was about 25-26 degrees or so. When the temperature goes over 30 degrees it's not so pleasant. Especially because I live in a block of flats - a so-called panelak building - and in such a building these temperatures are not so pleasant, especially during the night. It's too hot."

You'll find the Czech Meteorological Office's 3-day forecast here: