Heatwave: UK prepares for record temperatures
Millions of people in Britain woke up from the hottest night in the country on Tuesday and braced themselves for a day when temperatures are expected to reach 40 degrees Celsius, as a scorching heat wave in Europe hits a country more accustomed to mild weather and rain.
Britain’s Met Office weather agency said provisional figures showed the temperature remained above 25C overnight in parts of the country for the first time.
Met Office forecaster Rachel Ayers said Tuesday’s highs would be « unprecedented ».
“The temperature will be very hot throughout the day, before rising to 40°C, possibly even 41°C in isolated places across England during the afternoon,” he said. she declared.
Much of England, from London in the south to Manchester and Leeds in the north, is under the country’s first ‘extreme’ heat warning, meaning there is life-threatening danger even for healthy people , as the hot, dry weather that scorched mainland Europe last week has moved north.
The temperature on Monday reached 38.1C at Santon Downham in eastern England, just below Britain’s highest temperature on record – 38.7C, a record set in 2019 Tuesday should be warmer.
Average UK July temperatures range from a daily high of 21°C to a nighttime low of 12°C, and few homes or small businesses have air conditioning.
Many people coped with the heatwave by staying put. Road traffic was down from its usual levels on Monday. Trains were running at low speed for the sake of warping rails, or not running at all. London’s Kings Cross station, one of the country’s busiest rail hubs, was empty on Tuesday, with no trains on the busy East Coast line linking the capital to the north and Scotland. London Luton Airport had to close its runway due to heat damage.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Britain’s transport infrastructure, some of which dates back to Victorian times, « simply wasn’t built to withstand this kind of weather – and it will be many years before that we can replace infrastructure with the kind of infrastructure that could. »
At least five people have reportedly drowned across the UK in rivers, lakes and reservoirs trying to cool off.
Climate experts warn that global warming has increased the frequency of extreme weather events, with studies showing the likelihood of UK temperatures hitting 40C is now 10 times higher than in pre-industrial times. Drought and heat waves linked to climate change have also made wildfires more difficult to fight.
Hot weather has gripped southern Europe since last week, sparking wildfires in Spain, Portugal and France. Nearly 600 heat-related deaths have been reported in Spain and Portugal, where temperatures reached 47C last week.
Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes and vacation spots in the Gironde region of southwestern France since wildfires broke out in dry pine forests a year ago week.