Why Is It So Cold In Scotland This Summer?

Shutterstock / WeronikaH ©

Despite the country’s role in the UK’s hottest May on record, you’re not alone if you feel like it’s been extremely cold in Scotland this summer.

According to Met Office figures, it’s safe to assume woolly socks, jumpers and rain jackets will be having an extended fashion season this summer.

Despite a warmer than average May, the coming months look very dreich.

May 2024’s average mean temperature of 13.1C for the UK beat the 2008 record figure of 12.1C. This was particularly particularly influenced by above average temperatures in Scotland, where a May mean temperature of 12.3C beat 2018’s previous record by 1.6C.

But June was a whole different story.

Scotland grew cold this summer as soon June

The Met Office says the average mean temperature for the UK June 2024 was 12.9C, which was 0.4C below the long-term meteorological average.

Scotland’s average maximum temperature for this time of year is usually around 17C, but according to provisional statistics, 14.9C was as warm as it got last month.

A Met Office spokesperson said: “Temperatures in the first two weeks of June were around 2°C below average. This was due to northerly winds bringing cold Arctic air across the UK in what was a cool start to meteorological summer.

“The second half of the month saw high pressure as the jet stream moved north, bringing warmth to many, especially in the south. Some areas of southeast England exceeded 28°C for several days.”

However, any warm weather was short-lived as temperatures returned to around or below average in the last few days of June.

Northern Scotland also recorded above average amounts of rainfall. We had 122mm of rain, 32% more than its average for June.

There was even snowfall on some of our highest mountains.

Snow on Scotland’s mountains is not unusual for June, but according the weather experts our highest peaks experienced seven consecutive days of snowfall, which is also not unheard of but is unusual.

Why is Scotland so cold this summer? 

The jet stream is the reason.

This is a strong current of air about five to seven miles above the Earth’s surface.

BBC Scotland weather forecaster Calum MacColl said the jet stream was in a west to north-westerly orientation across the North Atlantic.

He said: “This has resulted in Scotland often being either under, or more commonly, on the cold side of the jet.

“As a consequence, we have frequently seen polar maritime airstreams curve around areas of low pressure to our north, bringing persistent chilly and unsettled conditions with frequent showery days and periods of longer spells of rain.”

Will Scotland heat up this summer?

We all know anecdotally that June, July, and August are usually the warmest periods of the year. So, what can we expect for July and August this year?

Well the current wet, cold and windy weather is expected to continue into mid-July and possibly onwards.

The Met Office long-range forecast for July 9-18 states: “Overall the period is expected to be predominantly unsettled; successive areas of cloud and rain moving in from the Atlantic and shorter settled interludes in-between. Temperatures are likely to come up to around average at first, with a chance of brief warm spells in the southeast, but overall temperatures will probably end up slightly cooler than average given the mainly unsettled outlook.”

It then also predicts for July 18 – August 1: “There is a chance that the period could start off on a settled note, but overall fairly changeable and at times cool weather is slightly favoured during the second half of July. This doesn’t rule out brief warm or even hot spells.”

Read more from our outdoor section