by Danica Kirka and Jill Lawless
LONDON ( Associated Press) – Millions of people in Britain stayed home or sought shade on Monday during the country’s first severe heat warning, as the hot, dry weather that has scorched mainland Europe for the past week turned north. has increased, disrupting travel, health care and schools. ,
The red heat alert covers a large part of England and will last until Tuesday, when temperatures can reach 40 °C (104 °F) for the first time, causing serious illness and even death in healthy people. There may also be danger. The Met Office, the UK meteorological agency.
The highest temperature ever recorded in the UK was 38.7 C (101.7 F), a record set in 2019. The country is not at all prepared to handle such heat – most homes, schools and small businesses in the UK do not have air conditioning.
The village of Cavendish in eastern England recorded 37.5 °C (99.5 F) as of 3 p.m. and Wales provisionally recorded its highest temperature, the Met Office said, with Howardon in northeastern Wales recording 37.1 °C (95.5 F). .
At least four people are reported to have drowned in an attempt to cool rivers, lakes and reservoirs across the UK.
Met Office CEO Penelope Andersby said Monday could bring record highs to south-east England, but temperatures are expected to rise further as warm air moves north on Tuesday. The severe heat warning extends from London in the south to Manchester and Leeds in the north.
“So it is tomorrow that we are seeing a really high probability of temperatures of 40 degrees and above,” Andersby told the BBC. “Forty-one is not off the card. We also have some 43 in the model, but we’re hoping it won’t be that high.”
Warm weather has engulfed southern Europe since last week, with wildfires raging in Spain, Portugal and France. About 600 heat-related deaths have been reported in Spain and Portugal, where temperatures soared to 47 °C (117 °F) last week.
Climate experts have warned that global warming has increased the frequency of extreme weather events, with studies showing that the chances of temperatures reaching 40C in the UK are now 10 times higher than in the pre-industrial era. Droughts and heat waves associated with climate change have also made fighting wildfires difficult.
Authorities in the Gironde region of southern France announced plans to evacuate an additional 3,500 people from towns threatened by the flames. More than 1,500 firefighters and water-bombing aircraft are trying to douse the flames in the region’s tinder-dried pine forests.
In Britain, train operators told customers not to travel unless absolutely necessary, saying the heat was likely to damage rails and disrupt power supplies, causing serious delays. Some routes were operating at a reduced speed or closing completely since mid-afternoon, when temperatures were expected to peak.
Flights were disrupted at London’s Luton Airport due to what was described as a “surface fault” on the runway amid high temperatures. The airport said engineers were called to the spot and repair work was underway.
Some medical appointments were canceled to relieve stress on the healthcare system. Some schools closed, and others set up wading pools and water sprays to help children cool off. Most British schools have not yet closed for the summer.
The scorching heat forced Parliament to loosen its strict dress code. The Speaker of the House of Commons said male MPs could get away with a jacket and tie for weeks.
The high temperatures are more of a shock as the UK generally has very moderate summer temperatures. Across the UK, average July temperatures range from a daily high of 21 C (70 F) to a low of 12 C (53 F).
But there will be some respite from the heat on Monday night, with the Met Office forecasting a midnight temperature of 29 °C (84 °F) in London. Chief meteorologist Paul Davis said Monday night would be “very oppressive” and it would be difficult to sleep.
“Tomorrow is the day when we’re really concerned about a good chance of reaching 40 or 41 degrees Celsius, and with that all those health conditions that come with high temperatures,” he said. .
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