Cold polar and warm Atlantic air frequently clash over the heads of Londoners providing the city with what meteorologists refer to as a ‘temperate maritime climate’, that is mild winters and warm but not excessively hot summers. Mind you the mass of sweaty, respiring, heat producing bodies, factories, buildings and vehicles help elevate the temperature 5 degrees, the 7 million trees are said to lower it.
London is warmer than other cities of similar latitude. Why?
London’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean is one of the reasons that the city is warmer than other cities of similar latitude in the winter, and cooler in the summer. During the winter, the Gulf Stream, a circulation of ocean current, which starts in the south Atlantic, moves nothwards brining warmer air, which raises the temperature of London and northern Europe by five degrees. In the summer, the Atlantic Ocean wafts cool winds over the country.
What to expect in London around the year?
Cold weather can be guaranteed between December and February, although it can start as early as October and stretch into April and May. However, London rarely experiences really cold weather, the temperature rarely drops below -5, and seldom below zero. Despite this foreigners from warmer climbs have altered Londoners’ perceptions of cold and heat, and you will here many people complaining about the cold weather.
Spring, and warmer weather can kick in at any time from February onwards, although warm weather is usually only sporadic until mid-June, where the temperature tends to remain at around 20 degrees, through to the end of August. Warm, t-shirt wearing weather can extend into September, October and November, such occurences being known as an Indian Summer, reference to the warm temperatures in India in these months, once an everyday experience for thousands of British colonialists.
London summers are warm, warmer than the winter anyway, but to many Londoners born in warmer climates, not at all warm. Whilst Londoners would think anything around twenty degrees as warm, if not hot, whilst foreigners think nothing about thirty degrees as hot. Having said all of this London, like most places in the world, is getting hotter which, in 2007 inspited Tomas Klassnik to envisage how London might one day need to manage the future heat, including Floaters, a colleciton of buoyant island structures that afford cooling river breezes, The Big Melt, a man-made iceberg, floated in the Thames.. The reality is that London is getting close to Klassnik’s vision with plans in progress for a garden bridge somewhere west of central London spanning the Thames.
The experience of cold London days
Although London does not experience extraordinarily cold weather, it still can sometimes be sufficiently cold, that your body begins to clam up, as soon as you set foot outside of the door. If you are not dressed appropriately you will suffer. I remember hanging out in London with a couple of friends one day, insufficiently dressed for the cold snap, which was uncomfortable enough, that something possessed me, one night at around 9pm in Canary Wharf, to start doing press-ups. This occurred just at the point that the shadowy figures of Arsene Wenger and his assistance Pat Rice, dressed in what appeared to be Arsenal shell suits, walked by, the two preparing for their game against Manchester United at Highbury the following day, the season that Arsenal were to go unbeaten in the Premiere League. The impressive pace with which I attempted my first and only set of ten press-ups, was not enough to get me a surprise inclusion in the starting eleve, or indeed on the bench.
In the middle of a weekday, walking or on a bus trundling down some God forsaken part of inner city London, the cold bite of the weather, when combined with crosswinds and rain, which whip your face, can sometimes bring the full hostility of London life into relief. All the isolation, meanness and loneliness of London life projects on to the feelings and scenes of abject misery and suffering you see out of a London bus window. You notice the struggle inscribed on to the brow of old ladies with baskets on wheels, the vacancy and fear of gaunt looking geezers wearing caps, sporting scruffy beards, lumberjack shirst and black sports tops.
The experience of warmth
But in the cylcle of the earth’s movement around the sun, when the north pole starts pointing at the sun rather than away from it, then London, its denizens, flora and fauna are all bought that little bit closer to the Alpha Mater, and the effect is dramatic. Between April and September, even when there is substantial cloud cover the temperate London weather becomes bearable, and one can relax more when on leaves home, one no longer has to fight to maintain one’s temperature, neck and back muscles relax. Strolling through London in the first week of clement weather, can feel euphoric, and for those insensitive to the effect warmer weather can have on the body and heart, it can feel that some kind of emotional burden has inexplicably been lifted from one’s shoulders and spirit.