A weatherman claims Scots did in fact enjoy our hottest-ever day this summer – and it was recorded in the Highlands.
Lee Schofield, a data analyst from Carrbridge, near Tomatin, has been running his popular Highlands & Islands Weather Facebook page in his spare time since December 2013.
The self-taught forecaster provides accurate daily reports for the north of Scotland using his network of 30 weather stations.
And Lee, 44, says his stations in Calvine, Pitlochry and Dalchreichart all recorded temperatures of 33°C on June 28 – suggesting it was officially the hottest day ever in Scotland.
On the same day, a reading of 33.2°C in Motherwell was later dismissed by the Met Office because it was recorded near a car generating heat because its engine was running.
The official record is 32.9°C, recorded at Greycrook in the Borders in August 2003. “It’s a bone of contention because I have more observation stations up here than the Met Office. Their network is pretty slim in comparison,” said Lee.
“Three of my stations recorded 33°C degrees. As far as I’m concerned, we set a new record for the hottest temperature recorded in Scotland.”
The detail and accuracy of Lee’s reports have made them hugely popular, gaining him over 93,000 followers on Facebook.
“The weather can vary so much from place to place, especially in the Highlands, yet the mainstream forecast groups everything together,” he added.
“The weather in Carrbridge can be hugely different from Inverness. But having all these weather stations that feed data back to me helps me provide a local service.
“I think the main reason people follow it is because I include everywhere and give so much detail to specific areas.
“People often comment on how accurate the forecasts are. I think that’s what has made the page so popular.”
Lee turned his lifelong love of meteorology into a free, daily service when he moved from Skipton, Yorkshire to the Highlands more than four years ago.
He has since built up a network of 30 small, remote weather stations that span from Pitlochry to Wick, Eigg to Durness, and everywhere in between.
Alongside his full-time job, Lee dedicates several hours every day to updating his weather service, which is mostly self-funded. His stations, which cost around £300 each, are located on private properties in open spaces, hosted by members of the public Lee finds through Facebook requests.
Each collects data on temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind speed, wind chill, air pressure and UV readings, which is fed back over wifi to a main server.
Lee then plots the information onto a large map and posts a morning update on Facebook. He added: “I put out a daily forecast every day at 6am and on Sunday I’ll do a week-ahead forecast but once you get beyond seven days the accuracy level drops significantly.”
He also looks for patterns such as high rainfalls and low temperatures to provide targeted weather warnings of flooding or ice.
Lee is self-taught in meteorology and runs his service out of a genuine love of the weather and helping others. His page has more than 93,000 followers worldwide and is invaluable for many people living and working in the Highlands and Islands, as well as tourists planning holidays.
“In winter, the amount of requests and traffic on the page increases massively. People really rely on the information, especially for travelling,” said Lee.
“It gives me a buzz to know I’m helping people, whether it’s what the weather will be like for their wedding, holiday, commute or businesses that depend on travel.
“In Carrbridge, I can’t walk down the street without someone asking me what the forecast is and if they can hang their washing out!”
Lee channels any Facebook advertising he gets from local businesses back into growing his network.
He recently raised over £1,500 from his followers in just a few days for five new stations. “A lot of people have asked about a mobile phone app so it’s something I hope to develop later this year,” he added.
“It’s something I enjoy doing and I want to keep it going for as long as I can.”
Lee’s weather predictions “Looking ahead, it does look hotter than average but sadly not the intense heat we’ve enjoyed in previous weeks “We’re having a very dry year with rainfall figures less than 50% average in some places. “I think that will be followed by a wet spell, so I have a feeling we will have a wetter autumn. “As for winter, it’s anyone’s guess!”