England just had its driest July since 1935

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19 July 2022, Great Britain, London: Sun loungers for rent stand on a withered lawn in Hyde Park. In the background, people lie under green trees.

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England just experienced its driest July since 1935, according to provisional statistics released Monday from the Met Office, the national meteorological service for the United Kingdom.

England had 23.1 millimeters of rain in July, which is less than one inch. That’s 35% of England’s average rainfall for the month, according to the Met Office.

Wales had about 2 inches of rain, which is 53% of its monthly average; Northern Ireland had 1.8 inches of rain, or 51% of its July monthly average and Scotland had about 3.3 inches of rain, which is 81% of its average reading for the month.

Taken together, all of the United Kingdom had 56% of its average monthly rainfall for the month of July.

Climate change driven by humans has contributed to the droughts.

“Fluctuations in weather patterns determine when and where heatwaves and unusually dry spells take place, but the higher temperatures and thirstier atmosphere due to human caused climate change will have intensified the rate at which soils dry out and hence speed up the development of drought,” Richard P. Allan, a professor of climate science at the University of Reading Department of Meteorology, told CNBC.

The decades-long record for dry weather is also a part of what contributed to recent wildfires throughout the region — and many other parts of Europe, too. Regional heat waves are the other half of the wildfire equation: A hot, dry season leaves vegetation a veritable tinderbox.

July 19, a Tuesday in the middle of the month, was the busiest day for the fire department in London since World War II, according to Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London.

“It is important for us to recognize that one of the consequences of climate change and these sorts of temperatures that lead to the fires you are seeing,” Khan said in an interview on Sky News on July 20.

“The challenge in London is we have a lot of grass, a lot of green spaces and a lot of that impinges on properties. And when you have not had rain for a long period, when the grass is incredibly dry, fires can start very quickly and spread even faster because of wind and that leads to properties being destroyed,” Khan said.

Indeed, July 19 was a scorcher. The Met Office has since announced that Coningsby, Lincolnshire, reached 40.3 degrees Celsius, which is 104.5 degrees Fahrenheit, on July 19. That is the first time the United Kingdom has recorded a temperature of 40 degrees Celsius.

The provisional statistics from the Met Office are based on climate data from 270 weather stations throughout the United Kingdom. Over the coming weeks, data from hundreds more co-operating climate and rainfall stations will be included in final figures that come out from Met Office at a later date.

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