No, Great Britain News, 20°C Temperatures Will Not Cause Britons To ‘Bake in a Heat Wave’

Great Britain News (GBN) which advertises itself as “Britain’s News Channel,” recently ran a story claiming that warm temperatures which are forecast to soon arrive will cause residents of Britain to swelter or bake. Warmer temperatures are to be expected as the northern hemisphere transitions from winter into spring and summer, there is nothing alarming or unusual about it. Although the headline implies that the mini-heatwave is dangerous, “UK weather: Mini-heatwave to see Britons bake in 20C heat as hot air sweeps in from Europe,” data and the story itself say nothing of the kind.

The GBN article, which was picked up by other news outlets including The Express, and The Mirror, states:

A mini-heatwave is set to sweep across the UK with forecasters predicting temperatures above the 20C mark in just a matter of weeks.

The Met Office says a hot, humid plume of air arriving from Spain and France will mean temperatures will heat up towards the end of April.

The “baking heat wave” headline might look alarming to those that are unfamiliar with temperature scales taught in elementary school Grade 5, but to anyone that even knows a bare minimum about temperature scales, the headline is laughable.

The reason the headline is laughable can be found in a simple Google Search:

You read that right, 20°C is the same as 68°F – in other words, indoor room temperature. It seems that the GBN reporter, Georgina Cutler, or possibly the editors who determined the headline, fail to understand that room temperature is what the majority of people find comfortable.

This graphic, from Science Notes, shows the range of comfortable room temperatures as defined by three different organizations. They say:

“Room temperature is the temperature or range of temperatures comfortable to people. It may be defined in science, but in practice it’s 20 to 22 degrees Celsius or 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Note that 20°C (68°F) is at the low end of the scale in the graphic above, some people might find it a bit cool.

The GBN implied dangerous temperatures were pending through the use of certain colors in the graphic it provided. The GBN story provided no color key for its temperature chart (seen below) making the chart look like the UK would “bake,” as claimed in the headline.

For comparison, here is what the actual chart of temperature looks like for April 19th, just two days after the GBN story aired, from the very same source:


So much for that “baking” heat wave.

Indeed, despite the alarm inducing headline, the story itself acknowledges, warmer weather is overdue and that most people will likely welcome it.

The GBN quotes British Weather Services meteorologist Jim Dale saying, “[a] very warm or hot spell is becoming overdue.” Also, GBN quotes Met Office spokesperson Stephen Dixon saying, “After what’s been an unsettled spell, it will finally feel like we are getting into the later part of spring, towards more of a summery regime. The temperatures will feel quite pleasant.”

This sad affair illustrates just how bad the media is at reporting basic facts about weather, much less climate. One must ask, why did the sensational, attention-grabbing headline not reflect what the story actually reported, which was that pleasant spring warming was finally on its way after an unpleasant winter.

Anthony Watts
Anthony Watts
Anthony Watts is a senior fellow for environment and climate at The Heartland Institute. Watts has been in the weather business both in front of, and behind the camera as an on-air television meteorologist since 1978, and currently does daily radio forecasts. He has created weather graphics presentation systems for television, specialized weather instrumentation, as well as co-authored peer-reviewed papers on climate issues. He operates the most viewed website in the world on climate, the award-winning website

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