Britain shattered its record for the highest temperature ever recorded on Tuesday amid a heat wave that swept across swathes of Europe – and the national weather forecaster predicted the temperature could rise even more. In a country not prepared for such extreme cases.
The typical temperate country was the latest to be engulfed in the unusually hot and dry weather that swept the continent. Since last week, wildfires have spread from Portugal to the Balkans and led to hundreds of heat-related deaths. Pictures of flames racing towards a French beach And the British are very hot – Even at the seashore – it prompted home concerns about climate change.
The UK Met Office recorded a provisional reading of 40.2°C (104.4°F) at Heathrow Airport – smashing the record set just an hour earlier. Before Tuesday, the highest temperature ever recorded in Britain was 38.7 degrees Celsius (101.7 Fahrenheit), a record high set in 2019.
The nation watched the rise of Mercury with a mixture of horror and magic. With several hours of intense sunlight, the record can go up.
“Temperatures are likely to rise further during the day,” the forecaster said after the first record fell.
Severe weather has disrupted travel, health care and schools in a country unprepared for such extreme conditions. Much of England, from London in the south to Manchester and Leeds in the north, remained under the country’s first “red” warning of extreme heat on Tuesday, meaning there was a risk of death even for healthy people.
London’s streets saw less traffic, many heeded advice to stay out of the sun, and trains drove at low speeds out of fear that the rails might deflate or not run at all. The British Museum – which has a glass-roofed atrium – planned to close early. The Supreme Court was closed to visitors after an air conditioning problem forced it to move sessions online.
Many public buildings, including hospitals, do not even have air conditioning, a reflection of how unusually intense heat can be in a country notorious for rain and mild temperatures.
The capital’s Hyde Park, usually crowded with pedestrians, was eerily quiet–except for the long queues to swim in the park’s Serpentine Lake.
“I’m going to my office because it’s nice and cool,” geologist Tom Elliott, 31, said after swimming. “I bike instead of taking the subway.”
London’s Kings Cross station, one of the country’s busiest rail hubs, was empty on Tuesday, with no trains on the normally bustling East Coast line connecting the capital to the north and Scotland. London Luton Airport closed its runway for several hours on Monday due to heat damage.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Britain’s transport infrastructure, some of which dates back to the Victorian era, “wasn’t just built to withstand these kinds of temperatures – and it will take many years before we can replace infrastructure with the kind of infrastructure that can.” .”
The dangers of extreme heat in Britain and around Europe were presented. At least six people have been reported to have drowned across the UK in rivers, lakes and reservoirs while trying to calm down. Meanwhile, nearly 750 heat-related deaths have been reported in neighboring Spain and Portugal in the heatwave there.
The highest temperature previously recorded in Britain was 38.7 degrees Celsius (101.7 Fahrenheit), a record set in 2019. Tuesday’s reading was provisional, meaning it is being produced as soon as possible with the final readings released after data quality control. office said.
The head of the United Nations Meteorological Agency said he hoped the heat would be a “wake-up call” for governments and voters to do more on climate change. World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said heat waves were only expected to increase.
Climate experts warn that global warming has increased the frequency of extreme weather events, with studies showing that the probability of UK temperatures reaching 40°C (104°F) is now 10 times higher than in the pre-industrial era. In fact, that once unimaginable sign seemed possible — and even likely — on Tuesday.
“This record temperature is a harbinger of things to come,” said Bob Ward of the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics. “The increase in the frequency and intensity of heat waves and other extreme weather events is a consequence of climate change, and these effects will continue to grow” unless the world significantly reduces emissions.
Droughts and heat waves associated with climate change have also made it more difficult to fight forest fires.
In the Gironde region of southwestern France, fierce wildfires continued to spread through dry pine forests, thwarting firefighting efforts by more than 2,000 firefighters and water-bombing aircraft.
Gironde authorities said more than 37,000 people have been evacuated from their homes and summer vacation spots since the fires broke out on July 12, burning 190 square kilometers (more than 70 square miles) of forest and vegetation.
A third, smaller fire broke out late Monday in the Medoc wine region north of Bordeaux, raising taxes on firefighting resources. Five campgrounds in the Atlantic Coast beach area caught fire as fires raged around the Arcachon Marine Basin, famous for its oysters and resorts.
But weather forecasts offered some solace, with temperatures expected to drop in a heat wave along the Atlantic coast Tuesday and rain likely late in the day.
Author John Lister for the Associated Press in Le Bec, France contributed to this story.
Follow the Associated Press’s climate coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/climate-and-environment
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