7 questions on heatwaves

7 questions on heatwaves

Summer has finally arrived for much of the UK and people are basking in the longed-for sunshine. Temperatures have soared as high as 29C (84F) and the hot weather could continue. In honour of the sunshine here's a quiz on heatwaves.

Someone holding an ice cream

1.) Multiple Choice Question

What is the Met Office's definition of a heatwave?

People in deckchairs
  1. Over 30C (86F) for four consecutive days
  2. Over 33C (91F) for three consecutive days
  3. Over 35C (95F) for two consecutive days
  4. It doesn't have an official definition


The Met Office operates a heat health warning system. It has four levels of response based upon threshold maximum daytime and minimum night-time temperatures. These vary by region, but the average threshold temperature for level one is 30C (86F) by day and 15C (59F) overnight for at least two consecutive days.

Children playing on a beach

2.) Multiple Choice Question

The heatwave of 1911 saw King George V and the Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII, escape to the Isle of Wight. What spoiled their holiday when they swam in the sea to keep cool?

King George V
  1. Jellyfish
  2. Nudists
  3. Photographers

3.) Multiple Choice Question

The famous heatwave of 1976 led to the driest summer since 1772. A "minister of drought" was appointed to tackle severe water shortages. Which emergency measure did the government NOT consider?

  1. Towing an iceberg along the Thames
    An iceberg
  2. Shipping water by tanker from Norway
    A tanker
  3. Firing particles into clouds to make them rain

4.) Multiple Choice Question

What happened to the UK birth rate the year after the 1976 heatwave?

Two babies
  1. It fell to a record low
  2. It rose to a record high
  3. It stayed roughly the same

5.) Multiple Choice Question

The hottest day ever recorded in the UK was August 10, 2003. The temperature soared to 38.5C (101.3F) in Faversham in Kent. How many days in a row did temperatures top 30C (86F) that month?

Two women enjoying the sun
  1. 6
  2. 8
  3. 10
  4. 12


The 2003 August heatwave had serious consequences across Europe. An estimated 900 died in the UK as a result of the heat. In France deaths were estimated to be 14,800 and 4,200 in Italy. Many of the deaths were among the elderly.

A man drinking water

6.) Multiple Choice Question

During a heatwave in June, what did male staff on Stockholm's commuter trains wear to get around a ban on wearing shorts?

People paddling in water
  1. Skirts
  2. Rolled-up trousers
  3. Ripped jeans

7.) Multiple Choice Question

Where in the world boasts the highest temperature to be recorded reliably by a meteorological station? It was 56.7C (134F).

The sun in the sky
  1. Oodnadatta, Australia
  2. Al-Aziziyah, Libya
  3. Death Valley, California
  4. Namib Desert, Namibia


For 90 years Al-Aziziyah in Libya held the record at 58C (136.4F) but last year the WMO concluded this was invalid because of an error in recording the temperature. It says it was miscalculated by about 7C (12.6F).

Death Valley


  1. The Met Office - the UK's national weather service - doesn't have an official definition of a heatwave.
  2. It's photographers. A proto-paparazzi took pictures of the monarch and his heir in their bathing costumes. Buckingham Palace issued a furious statement: "If less objectionable behaviour is not observed by the photographers they are warned that steps will be taken to stop the nuisance."
  3. It's towing an iceberg along the Thames.
  4. In 1977 the birth rate fell to a record low of 657,000, according to government statistics. Many have suggested this was because of the heatwave.
  5. It's 10 days, according to the Met Office.
  6. About 15 male staff on the Roslagsbanan service wore skirts in 35C (95F) temperatures.
  7. It's Death Valley, California, according to the World Meteorological Organization. It was recorded on 10 July 1913, 100 years ago today. It is the highest reliably recorded air temperature on Earth.

Your Score

0 - 3 : Out in the cold

4 - 6 : Getting warmer

7 - 7 : What a scorcher

For past quizzes including our weekly news quiz, 7 days 7 questions, expand the grey drop-down below - also available on the Magazine page (and scroll down)

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