Summer 2023 set new records in terms of heat and rain and is further evidence we are living at a time when our climate is changing, according to Met Éireann.

Ireland had its warmest June ever, followed by the wettest ever July, and rounded off by flash flooding and downed trees in August with Storms Francis and Betty wreaking havoc.

Keith Lambkin, Head of Climate Services Division at the forecaster, said that overall this summer was provisionally the fifth warmest on record.

Temperatures ranged between a half a degree and one and a half degrees above normal, depending on the location.

"This is all happening in a remarkable 12 months where we also saw the wettest March on record as well as the wettest October on record," he revealed.

"It is the added heat to the climate system which is helping to drive these record-breaking months."

This means that "extreme events that we wouldn't ordinarily see we see more frequently, and events that we've never seen before now indeed become possible, or even likely," Mr Lambkin warned.

"We're seeing trends towards more warmer nights, less frost days and because temperature is a trigger for growth, we're seeing that spring is arriving earlier on average."

Balmy weather in store

Met Éireann has forecast that this week's warm spell will last until the weekend with temperatures set to reach up to 26C in many parts.

Yesterday, it recorded a temperature of 27.6C at its Valentia Observatory in Co Kerry, which it said was the warmest day in Ireland since 13 June.

It said today would be "another warm or very warm day" with long spells of hazy sunshine.

Temperatures could reach up to 26C and it will warmest away from the eastern and southern coasts.

However, while the forecaster said it would be a mainly dry day, "a few showers are possible across the southwest and west, where the odd thundery downpour is possible".

Highs of 26C are forecast until Friday, with 20-25C expected on Saturday.

However, Met Éireann has also warned of warm, muggy nights with temperatures staying between 13-17C.

In a post on X this morning, it said: "A number of hurricanes, tropical storms and depressions in the Atlantic are pumping warmer air into the upper atmosphere, allowing high pressure to build in from the east. That is bringing this warmer spell."

Head of the Climate Services Division at Met Éireann Keith Lambkin said the summer was between half a degree to 1.5 degrees warmer on average, driven by relatively warm, consistent night time temperatures.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, he said the summer was also overall wetter on average, with the wettest day recorded in Cahersiveen, Co Kerry, on 18 August.

Meanwhile in the UK, the hottest temperatures of 2023 could be seen this week during a heatwave.

The Met Office is predicting maximum temperatures of 32C tomorrow and Thursday, potentially matching the year's record of 32.2C in June.

It comes as the UK Health Security Agency has issued a yellow alert across the whole of England apart from the northeast.

Heatwave criteria will likely be met in a number of places over the next couple of days, and for much of the UK it will feel "very warm to hot", said senior meteorologist Rachel Ayers.

It is possible the highest temperatures of 2023 could be seen this month, with the current record standing at 32.2C on both 10 June and 25 June.

Ms Ayers said: "Temperatures will vary between 27 to 30C in central and southern areas, with an isolated 31C possible inland.

"On Wednesday, mist and fog will clear once again with low cloud burning back to the coast through the morning, again leaving a very warm or hot day."

The weekend is set to become cooler, turning unsettled next week when the weather will return to September's average temperatures.