Southeast England matched temperature record set in 1957
April seen hotter, drier than normal throughout Europe
Londoners who crammed into parks and rooftop bars or fired up their barbecues earlier than normal were testimony of an exceptionally warm and sunny March.
Southeast England, which includes the capital, had the warmest month since records began in 1910, according to the U.K.’s Met Office. The average temperature of 9.2 degrees Celsius (49 degrees Fahrenheit) equaled a record set in 1957, the year the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the first human-made object in space. The U.K. overall had its fifth-warmest March on record.
The trend is supposed to continue into April across the whole of Europe, according to meteorologists surveyed by Bloomberg. An early start to summer could raise the risk of drought and further reduce heat and power prices, which have plunged since February.
April “is looking very dry across Iberia,” said Claire Kennedy-Edwards, a senior meteorologist at Atlanta-based The Weather Co. “Very dry springtime conditions over Iberia, resulting in soil moisture deficits, can lead to a greater risk of heat wave events over Europe.”
March was 1.8 degrees Celsius (3.2 Fahrenheit) warmer than average, according to the Met Office. It was also unusually bright, with 21 percent more hours of sunshine than usual. Precipitation was near normal levels except in Wales, where 164.7 millimeters (6.5 inches) of rain fell, 141 percent of the seasonal norm.
Warmer temperatures have contributed to a drop in wholesale energy costs, which may further pressure utilities from SSE Plc to Centrica Plc, which have come under fire for driving up energy charges.
Front-month gas in the U.K. fell 11 percent in March while power prices dropped 8.3 percent, according to broker data compiled by Bloomberg. Wholesale prices make up about 40 percent of energy bills, according to Centrica’s British Gas retail unit.