Stonehenge summer solstice sunrise set to be mired in cloud and rain

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Onlookers planning to see the sun rise at Stonehenge on the summer solstice are more likely to witness the arrival of rainfall, according to the Met Office.

The annual gathering at the ancient stone circle in Wiltshire has been cancelled for the second year running after the Government delayed the next stage of lockdown easing.

But the sunset and sunrise at the prehistoric monument will be live-streamed by English Heritage which last year was viewed by 3.6 million people.

Normally between 7,000 and 30,000 people would gather to watch the sunrise over the stones on the longest day of the year.

But forecasters from the Met Office have warned that the sunrise will be mired in cloud with the prospect of rain arriving in the early hours.

Summer Solstice 2020
Handout photo issued by English Heritage of Stonehenge in Wiltshire, during a soggy start in 2020. (Christopher Ison/English Heritage/PA)

Meteorologist Alex Burkill said temperatures in the early hours would be about nine to 10C rising to about 13C in the daytime.

He said: “In the early hours it’s definitely going to be cloudy and quite grey, it will be around then that the rain will begin to arrive, it could be dry but rain won’t be far away.”

Better weather was expected across Scotland and Northern Ireland with north west England probably seeing the best temperatures of 19 to 20C.

He said that Tuesday was likely to be the driest day of the week but wet weather would reach most areas on Wednesday into Thursday.

He added that temperatures could also drop mid-week and the north of England possibly dropping below zero overnight from Wednesday to Thursday.

Mr Burkill added that the forecast for next weekend remained unclear but he said there was a chance of settled, brighter weather although he could not rule out further rainfall.

The continuing wet weather follows high temperatures in parts of southern England last week reaching as high as 28C (82.4F) on Wednesday.

This was followed by parts of the South East seeing up to a month’s worth of rainfall in one day including Otterbourne, Hampshire, which saw 67mm of rainfall from 11pm Thursday to 5pm Friday, and Dancers End, Drayton Parslow, Toddington and southern Farnborough, which had rainfall between 65mm and 57mm.

A statement on the English Heritage website states: “With this week’s news that the Government is delaying the lifting of the remaining Covid-19 restrictions on June 21 and following discussions with Wiltshire Council’s Public Health team and Wiltshire Police, English Heritage has taken the extremely difficult decision to cancel the planned Summer Solstice celebrations at Stonehenge this year.

“Sunset and sunrise will be live-streamed for free on English Heritage’s social media channels and will include exclusive interviews and music.

“English Heritage will also ensure that small, pre-booked groups from the pagan and druid community can gather on the days around the Summer Solstice to mark this important moment in their calendar.”

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