Daily deaths in England & Wales and maximum Central England temperature, July & August 2003
On each of the ten days from Monday 4 August to Wednesday 13 August 2003, the numbers of deaths in England and Wales were above the average for those days over the last five years. There were 15,261 deaths over the period in 2003, 16 per cent (2,142) above the average for the last five years.
The Central England Temperature peaked at 31.5°C (88.7°F) on 9 August. The average August daily maximum temperature in the south of England is around 21.2°C (70.2 °F). The number of deaths peaked at 1,696 on 11 August, 370 more deaths than the average for that day over the previous five years.
The impact was greatest in the southern half of England, particularly in London, where deaths for all ages were 42 per cent (616) above the average. London experienced a maximum temperature of 37.9°C (100.2°F) on 10 August. In all regions, deaths for the 75 and over age group were above average levels. In the London region, deaths in the 75 and over age group were 59 per cent (522) above the average.
In England and Wales during August as a whole, there were estimated to be 1,976 deaths above the average for that month over the last five years. Temperatures and mortality did increase in mid-July, but high temperatures were not sustained. Overall, there were fewer deaths than expected during that month.
Although numbers of deaths in August 2003 were higher than the average in that month, the peak number on 11 August was still lower than typical daily mortality in the winter months. Over the last five years, December and January had daily averages of 1,725 and 1,872 deaths respectively. Average daily mortality in August 2003 (1,375 deaths) was also lower than annual average daily mortality over the whole of the previous five years (1,485 deaths).
Unlike previously published ONS provisional weekly estimates (based on the date a death was registered) these estimates are of deaths that occurred each day, allowing this comparison with temperature.