Europe heat wave: UK records hottest-ever temperature

Europe heat wave: UK records hottest-ever temperature

The United Kingdom on Tuesday provisionally recorded its hottest-ever temperature reading, with the mercury rising above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) for the first time.

A temperature of 40.2 C was recorded at London Heathrow in the early afternoon, according to the Met Office weather service. 


London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that the high temperatures have caused a "huge surge" in fires across the city and that the London fire brigade is under "immense pressure." The fire service declared a major incident and urged people to stop having barbecues.

One incident involves 100 firefighters responding to a grass fire in Wennington on the eastern edge of London where flames had engulfed people's houses.

The record-breaking day follows the UK's warmest-ever night, with temperatures in some regions remaining above 25 degrees Celsius (77 Fahrenheit) from Monday to Tuesday, according to the Met Office.

The 40 C mark was announced shortly after the day's first record-breaking reading of 39.1 C was provisionally recorded at Charlwood in the southern Surrey region. 

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The UK's previous all-time record high of 38.7 C (101.7 F) was set in 2019. 

Tuesday's record could be broken again as the day goes on, with temperatures expected to continue rising in the afternoon. 

"Forty-one isn't off the cards,'' said Met Office CEO Penelope Endersby. "We've even got some 43s in the model, but we're hoping it won't be as high as that.''

The Met Office will need to validate the equipment used to measure the temperature before it officially becomes a recorded high. 

On Monday, British officials issued the UK's first-ever extreme heat emergency, extending from London in the south to Manchester and Leeds in the north. Train services were disrupted by buckled rails, and more travel disruption is expected on Tuesday.

"We're probably going to see the hottest day ever in the UK recorded today," Transport Minister Grant Shapps told the BBC. "Infrastructure, much of which was built from the Victorian times, just wasn't built to withstand this type of temperature."

The mercury reached 38.1 C on Monday in Suffolk, in eastern England, which was the hottest temperature recorded in the UK this year, and the third-hottest day on record.

Average July temperatures in the UK range from highs of 21 C to nighttime lows of 12 C, and few homes or small businesses have air conditioning

The UN's World Meteorological Organization said that the temperatures will probably peak on Tuesday, but the heat wave could continue for a few more days.

"We are expecting the peak to be today across France, the UK, possibly even Switzerland," Robert Stefanski, the WMO's applied climate services chief, said.

 "And the question everybody's asking, looking ahead, when will this end? Unfortunately, looking at all the models... possibly not until the middle of next week."

WMO chief Petteri Taalas also warned that "independent of our success in climate mitigation efforts," the trend in more frequent heat waves will continue until at least 2060.

"Emissions are still growing and therefore it's not sure that we would see the peak in the 2060s if we are not able to bend this emission growth development, especially in the big Asian countries which are the largest emitters," Taalas added.

On the other side of the English Channel, French weather officials reported record high temperatures in 64 different areas in France on Monday. Most of the highs were recorded near the western Atlantic coast

Saint-Brieuc, on the normally temperate coast of Brittany, topped 39.5 C. The western city of Nantes recorded 42 C, beating a decades-old high of 40.3 C set in 1949. France's all-time temperature record was 45.9 C, recorded in 2019 near the southern city of Montpellier

In southwestern France's Gironde region, two large wildfires raging for a week across dry pine forests have forced the evacuation of 32,000 people. The blazes have already destroyed a total of 190 square kilometers (more than 70 square miles) of forest.

Fire officials said strong winds and heat are fanning the flames, despite the deployment of waterbombing aircraft.

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DW correspondent Barbara Wesel reporting from Gironde said the forests in the area are "tinder dry" and go up in flames very easily driven by strong winds.

"The temperatures have let up a bit so it's easier for the firefighters, but the wind makes their life incredibly difficult because the fire jumps from one side of the road to the other." -


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