UK breaks record for highest temperature as heat rises
Britain broke its record for highest temperature ever on Tuesday, with a provisional reading of 39.1 degrees Celsius (102.4 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the country’s meteorological office – and the heat was only expected to rise .
The highest temperature previously recorded in Britain was 38.7 C (101.7 F), a record set in 2019. Tuesday’s record was in Charlwood, England.
“Temperatures are expected to rise further today,” the forecaster said.
Tuesday’s spike came as the country was gripped by heat that has also scorched mainland Europe over the past week. Travel, healthcare and schools have been disrupted in a country that was unprepared for such extremes.
Much of England, from London in the south to Manchester and Leeds in the north, remained under the country’s first ‘extreme’ heat warning on Tuesday, meaning there is life-threatening danger even for people in healthy.
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Britain’s Supreme Court has been closed to visitors after an air conditioning problem forced it to move hearings online. The British Museum had planned to close earlier. Many public buildings, including hospitals, are not air-conditioned, showing how unusual such extreme heat is in the country, best known for rain and mild temperatures.
Unusually hot and dry weather has gripped large swaths of the continent since last week, sparking wildfires from Portugal to the Balkans and leading to hundreds of heat-related deaths. Images of flames rushing towards a French beach and sweltering Britons – even by the sea – have raised concerns about climate change.
Britain’s Met Office weather agency also reported that provisional figures showed the temperature staying above 25C (77F) overnight in parts of the country for the first time.
Many people coped with the heatwave by staying put. Road traffic was down from its usual levels on Monday. The trains were running at low speeds for fear that the rails would warp or not run 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 temperatures in the UK hitting 40C (104F) is now 10 times higher than in the UK pre-industrial era. Drought and heat waves linked to climate change have also made wildfires more difficult to fight.
The dangers of extreme heat were on display in southern Europe. At least 748 heat-related deaths have been reported during the heatwave in Spain and neighboring Portugal, where temperatures hit 47C (117F) earlier this month.
In the Gironde region of southwestern France, ferocious wildfires continued to spread through dry pine forests, frustrating the firefighting efforts of more than 2,000 firefighters and aircraft water bombers.
More than 37,000 people have been evacuated from homes and summer vacation spots since the fires broke out on July 12 and have burned 190 square kilometers (more than 70 square miles) of forest and vegetation, officials said. Gironde authorities.
A third smaller fire broke out on Monday evening in the Médoc wine region north of Bordeaux, further taxing firefighting resources. Five campsites caught fire in the area of the beaches of the Atlantic coast where the fires raged, around the maritime basin of Arcachon famous for its oysters and its seaside resorts.
But the weather forecast offered some consolation, with scorching temperatures expected to ease along the Atlantic coast on Tuesday and the possibility of rain late in the day.