In June, 2018 Scotland thought it broke a temperature world record. But then it didn’t. And the reason it didn’t is equal parts bizarre and hilarious.
Some context: For the vast majority of the year, Scotland is a weather wasteland. Sun is a stranger. Scotland is perennially cloudy, it rains constantly, it sucks. Source: me. I grew up there. I’m Scottish. Some say.
But this year, something truly strange happened in Scotland. In June it stopped raining. It became… warm. Temperatures soared. To the point where it was actually close to hotting 90 degrees Fahrenheit (around 32 degrees Celsius). I lived in Scotland for the first 21 years of my life and I can honestly count on one hand the amount of times temperatures hit 90 degrees F or over.
So when the MET Office (Britain’s National Weather Service) released figures stating that Scotland hit provisional record high temperature of 91.6 degrees F on June 28, no one was surprised. It was hot that day. It was particularly hot in Motherwell, South Lanarkshire, where that temperature was taken.
But the MET Office had to discredit the reading.
“[S]ubsequent information has cast some doubt on the Motherwell measurement for that day,” stated the MET Office on its official blog, “meaning that we will not be able to accept it as an official new record for Scotland.”
The problem? A parked car.
“Unfortunately in this particular instance,” said the blog, “we have evidence that a stationary vehicle with its engine running was parked too close to the observing enclosure.
“Although the measurement appears plausible given the weather conditions that day we cannot rule-out the potential for contamination of the measurement by this non-weather-related factor.”
In layman’s terms: Someone parked their car too close to the thermometer and left their engine running. At this point no one can be sure the car didn’t affect the final number, so the temperature has been scratched from the record books.
“At first review the Motherwell record appeared plausible given the wider conditions on the day and was therefore reported as such,” explained Dr. Mark McCarthy, head of the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre. “However for all new records we undertake further careful investigation to ensure that the measurement is robust.”
Scotland’s temperature record remains at 91.22 degrees F, a temperature taken in the Greycrook in the Scottish Borders on August 9, 2003. A measure of 89.42 degrees F was taken in Glasgow on the same day as the Motherwell reading.
Close, but not close enough.
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