LONDON ( Associated Press) – Britain broke its record for the highest temperature ever recorded on Tuesday with a provisional reading of 39.1 °C (102.4 °F) – and the national weather forecaster predicted it would still be warm,
The generally temperate nation was the latest to be struck by unusually hot, dry weather that has gripped large areas of Europe. Since last week, wildfires raged from Portugal to the Balkans and caused hundreds of heat-related deaths. Images of flames running towards a French beach And the people of Britain are scorching – even the seabed – has prompted domestic concerns about climate change.
Tuesday’s record in Charleswood, England, came before noon as the nation watched the mercury rise with a combination of horror and fascination. There is a possibility of breaking the record once again due to the strong sunlight for several hours ahead.
“The temperature is likely to rise further till today,” the forecaster said.
Hot weather in a country unprepared for such extremes has disrupted travel, health care and schools. A large part of England, from London in the south to Manchester and Leeds in the north, remained subject to the country’s first “red” warning for severe heat on Tuesday, meaning even healthy people are at risk of death.
London’s roads saw less traffic, as many people heeded the advice to stay out of the sun, and trains ran slow, worrying the rails might bend, or not run at all. The British Museum – which has a glass-roofed atrium – plans to close its doors early. And the Supreme Court closed it to visitors after an air-conditioning problem forced it to take the hearing online.
Many public buildings, including hospitals, don’t even have air conditioning, which is a reflection of how unusual extreme heat is in a country better known for rain and mild temperatures.
The capital’s Hyde Park, which was usually busy with pedestrians, was extremely quiet – except for long lines to take a dip in the park’s Serpentine Lake.
“I’m going to my office because it’s well and good,” geologist Tom Elliott, 31, said after the swim. “I’m cycling instead of taking the tube.”
London’s King’s Cross station, one of the country’s busiest rail hubs, was empty on Tuesday, with no trains on the usually bustling East Coast line connecting the capital to the north and Scotland. London’s 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 it dating back to Victorian times, “simply was not built to withstand these kinds of temperatures – and it would be many years before we could start the infrastructure.” That kind of infrastructure could change that.”
Threats of severe heat were visible around Britain and Europe. At least six people are reported to have drowned in an attempt to cool rivers, lakes and reservoirs across the UK. Meanwhile, in Spain and neighboring Portugal, about 750 people have died related to heat from the heat.
The highest temperature previously recorded in Britain was 38.7 C (101.7 F), a record set in 2019. Tuesday’s readings were provisional, meaning they are produced in as near real-time as possible with the final readings released after data quality-control, the Met office said.
Climate experts have warned that global warming has increased the frequency of extreme weather events, with studies showing that temperatures in the UK reaching 40 °C (104 F) are now 10 times more likely than in the pre-industrial era. times higher. In fact, the once unimaginable trail seemed possible – even likely – 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 result of climate change, and these effects will continue to grow” unless the world makes drastic reductions in emissions.
Droughts and heat waves associated with climate change have also made fighting wildfires difficult.
In the Gironde region of southwestern France, fierce wildfires continued to spread through tinder-dried pine forests, frustrating firefighting efforts by more than 2,000 firefighters and water-bombing aircraft.
Officials in Gironde said more than 37,000 people have been evacuated from homes and summer vacation spots since the July 12 fire and burned down 190 square kilometers (more than 70 square miles) of forests and vegetation.
A minor third fire broke out late Monday in the Medoc wine region north of Bordeaux, further taxing firefighting resources. Five camp sites went up in flames in the Atlantic Coast beach area where the flames rose, famous for its oysters and resorts around the Arcachon Marine Basin.
But weather forecasts provided some consolation, with heat wave temperatures easing along the Atlantic coast on Tuesday and a chance of rain later in the day.
Associated Press writer John Leicester in Le Peque, France, contributed to this story.
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