Sheffield starts to sweat on a hot weather record

A picnic in the Peace Gardens in the late summer sun for Ben and LU Matthews from Den Bank, with children Olivia 9 months ansd Sophie 2
A picnic in the Peace Gardens in the late summer sun for Ben and LU Matthews from Den Bank, with children Olivia 9 months ansd Sophie 2

SHEFFIELD is edging towards its hottest October day since records began almost 120 years ago.

Temperatures are expected to reach 26C over the next couple of days – and it remains to be seen whether they can crack the 26.3C that was registered at the start of October 1985.

This was the highest since records began in Sheffield in 1882.

The Indian summer, with temperatures around 10C above average, brought out the crowds to enjoy the sunshine in places such as the Peace Gardens and Tudor Square this week.

And it brought a late-season bonanza for Hathersage outdoor swimming pool, where bathers queued to take advantage of the heatwave.

“Season ticket holders are here whatever the weather but the sun has certainly brought out more of the general public,” said manager Becky Schofield.

It was a timely boost for the pool, which opened two months late this year following a major refurbishment. The dismal summer meant numbers were down but the late surge has helped to put takings back on track.

The pool remains open (apart from this afternoon, Thursday) until the season ends on Sunday.

There was good news too for nature spotters as the balmy weather brought out a flock of unseasonal creatures.

“I saw a humming bird hawk moth in our garden in Norton last weekend – they’re normally gone by the end of August,” said Dr Ian Rotherham, professor of environmental geography at Sheffield Hallam University.

Other unexpected visitors Ian has spotted over the last week include large hawker dragonflies, chiffchaff warblers and even a swift.

“In terms of wildlife watching the warm weather is good news but the question is will they survive?” he said.

The issue comes back to climate change and the fact that late warm weather is often followed by a rapid change.

“Plants start to come into life, then suddenly get hit by a frost; insects should be going into a period of dormancy and if they have no plants they can’t feed.

“There’s a dysfunctionality between the different species that is upsetting the whole rhythm of nature.”

Even at 9am yesterday (Wednesday), the Museums Sheffield weather station at Weston Park was recording 19.4 deg C, although September as a whole looks like being nothing exceptional, being only the warmest for five years.

Yet long, dry spells have taken their toll on some local reservoirs. Worst affected are Damflask, Agden and Langsett, on the west of Sheffield, which Yorkshire Water says are only 47% full.

Ladybower, Derwent and Howden in the Peak District are at 54.1%, says Severn Trent.

At the same time, local history enthusiasts will be disappointed that there is little prospect of water levels falling low enough to see remnants of the buildings that were submerged when the dams were created.