Health officials say DON’T shut schools on hottest day as temperatures hit 106F on Monday


Government health officials today insisted there was no reason for schools or workplaces to close during next week’s unprecedented 41C (106F) heatwave – as the Gatwick Express was cancelled and teachers and rail workers shup up shop as a ‘national emergency’ was declared..

Bosses have also shot down the idea of Britons working from home to protect themselves – but many will face major disruption on their commute, with Network Rail advising passengers to ‘only travel if absolutely necessary’.

It comes as some schools said they would close early or shut altogether, one hospital cancelled all routine outpatient appointments or surgery and the UK faced a ‘national emergency’ ahead of the hottest day on record.

The Gatwick Express will not be in service on Monday and Tuesday, while Thameslink and Great Northern will be running a ‘significantly reduced service across all routes’.

A statement from Thameslink added: ‘Trains that do run will be busy and travel is expected to be disrupted with a high chance of incidents that cause cancellations.

‘Even if you are able to travel in the morning on Monday and Tuesday, you may find there is significant disruption to return journeys in the evening so if you are travelling you should consider alternative ways to get home.’

The Met Office today issued a first-ever red warning for extreme heat for Monday and Tuesday next week. And the UK Health Security Agency in turn issued a Level Four heat-health alert covering the whole of England for both days, which warns: ‘Illness and death may occur among the fit and healthy, and not just in high-risk groups.’

Also today, a sombre Met Office chief executive Penny Endersby released a dramatic video warning Britons are ‘not adapted to what is coming’ as she warned of ‘absolutely unprecedented’ conditions for the UK.

Health officials told Britons to ‘look out for others, especially older people, young children and babies and those with underlying health conditions’ – and transport bosses warned of major rail disruption. Operators advised passengers against non-essential travel next Monday and Tuesday, with speed restrictions likely.

A blanket speed limit is expected to be imposed on all trains across South East England including London, with main line and high-speed services expected be allowed to run at only 60mph on Monday and Tuesday. 

Avanti West Coast has suspended ticket sales on its London-Glasgow route for Monday and Tuesday ‘to minimise the number of people disrupted’ while c2c, which runs from Essex to London, is ‘advising customers not to travel’. 

Meteorologists said there is now an 80 per cent chance of breaking the all-time UK record of 38.7C (101.6F) set in Cambridge on July 15, 2019 – a probability that is up from 60 per cent earlier today, and 30 per cent on Monday.

Parts of London are now set to hit 41C (106F) both next Monday and Tuesday, according to BBC Weather – and either would break the record, which itself overtook a previous high of 38.5C (101.3F) in Kent on August 10, 2003.

Ms Endersby said: ‘The extreme heat we’re forecasting right now is absolutely unprecedented. We’ve seen when climate change has driven such unprecedented severe weather events all around the world it can be difficult for people to make the best decisions in these situations because nothing in their life experience has led them to know what to expect. Here in the UK we’re used to treating a hot spell as a chance to go and play in the sun. 

‘This is not that sort of weather. Our lifestyles and our infrastructure are not adapted to what is coming. Please treat the warnings we are putting out as seriously as you would a red or amber warning from us for wind or snow and follow the advice. Stay out of the sun, keep your home cool, think about adjusting your plans.’

Forecasters had already this week issued an ‘amber’ heat warning – for only the third time ever – from Sunday to Tuesday for most of England and Wales. But today this was extended to all of England and Wales and southern Scotland – and upgraded to an unprecedented ‘red’ for parts of central and southern England, including London.

It comes as schools are preparing to send pupils home early or close altogether, scrapping PE lessons and banning children from playing outside in a series of measures being considered as the UK braces for the heat. 

TUESDAY: The Met Office expects temperatures to hit 40C (104F) in London next Tuesday, which would be unprecedented

NEXT WEEK: The Met Office has issued this forecast map to accompany the extreme heat warning next Monday and Tuesday

NEXT WEEK: The Met Office has issued this forecast map to accompany the extreme heat warning next Monday and Tuesday

The Met Office had already this week issued an 'amber' heat warning - for only the third time ever - from Sunday to Tuesday for most of England and Wales. But today this was extended to all of England and Wales and southern Scotland - and upgraded to an unprecedented 'red' for parts of central and southern England, including London, on Monday and Tuesday

The Met Office had already this week issued an ‘amber’ heat warning – for only the third time ever – from Sunday to Tuesday for most of England and Wales. But today this was extended to all of England and Wales and southern Scotland – and upgraded to an unprecedented ‘red’ for parts of central and southern England, including London, on Monday and Tuesday

'National emergency': The UK Health Security Agency issued a Level Four heat-health alert today covering the whole of England for both days, which warns: 'Illness and death may occur among the fit and healthy, and not just in high-risk groups'

‘National emergency’: The UK Health Security Agency issued a Level Four heat-health alert today covering the whole of England for both days, which warns: ‘Illness and death may occur among the fit and healthy, and not just in high-risk groups’

A group of young people enjoy the hot weather at Bournemouth this morning as they go for a dip in the sea

A group of young people enjoy the hot weather at Bournemouth this morning as they go for a dip in the sea

People on Brighton beach in East Sussex this afternoon as the UK continues to enjoy the warm weather

People on Brighton beach in East Sussex this afternoon as the UK continues to enjoy the warm weather

Sunbathers on this morning as they go for a dip in the sea

Sunbathers on Bournemouth beach in Dorset this morning as they enjoy the continuing hot weather for England

People on Brighton beach in East Sussex this afternoon as the UK continues to enjoy the warm weather

People on Brighton beach in East Sussex this afternoon as the UK continues to enjoy the warm weather

A steam train travels past beach huts and sunbathers at Goodrington Sands in Paignton, Devon, this afternoon

A steam train travels past beach huts and sunbathers at Goodrington Sands in Paignton, Devon, this afternoon

Two women sunbathe on Bournemouth beach in Dorset today on what is another hot day at the seaside

Two women sunbathe on Bournemouth beach in Dorset today on what is another hot day at the seaside

The red alert issued this morning warns of ‘an exceptional hot spell on Monday and Tuesday leading to widespread impacts on people and infrastructure’, adding that ‘population-wide adverse health effects’ will be ‘not limited to those most vulnerable to extreme heat, leading to serious illness or danger to life’. 

How Met Office chief was previously part of MoD’s secretive research unit

BY JAMES ROBINSON FOR MAILONLINE

Professor Penny Endersby

Professor Penny Endersby

Professor Penny Endersby, who issued the sombre video about the heatwave shared online today, is the Met Office’s first female chief.

She took up the role in December 2018, taking over from Rob Varley who dramatically quit the agency following reports of a row with government chiefs.

Professor Endersby, who studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge, joined the Met Office from the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL).

DSTL is the executive agency which runs the highly secretive Porton Down research facility in Wiltshire.  There, Professor Endersby led the cyber and information systems division.

She was also acting chief technical officer, as well as a non-executive director of Ploughshare Innovations, the Ministry of Defence’s technology transfer organisation.

At the time of her appointment, the Met Office said Professor Endersby had wide-ranging experience with high performance computing, complex modelling and simulation, space systems and weather, geospatial intelligence and analytics, and – ultimately – delivering life-saving science for defence and security users.

Met Office chair Rob Woodward said at the time he was ‘delighted’ she would be at the helm of the organisation.

He said: ‘I and the rest of the board are very much looking forward to working with her as we build on the outstanding reputation of the Met Office and continue the important transformation which will enable the Met Office to remain a world class organisation’.

Speaking about her appointment in 2018, she said: ‘Throughout my career my leadership ethos centres on creating the conditions wherein scientists and scientific excellence can thrive, while maintaining a keen focus on business delivery to customers. I look forward immensely to working with such a talented workforce.’

At the time of her appointment, the Met Office chief executive job was advertised with a salary range of £88,000 to £162,500. Mr Varley’s salary band was £120,000 to £125,000 according to the agency’s annual report at the time he stepped down.

Outside of her work, Professor Endersby is a mother-of-two and an expert choir singer. She is said to have an interest in wildlife and is a trustee of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust.

Confirming the new alert this morning, Met Office meteorologist Grahame Madge said: ‘We’ve just issued a red warning for extreme heat for Monday and Tuesday which is the first such warning ever issued. The warning covers an area from London up to Manchester and then up to the Vale of York. This is potentially a very serious situation.’

And England’s chief medical officer Professor Sir Chris Whitty said: ‘The Met Office has issued an extreme heat warning for next week. Please remember the signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke especially for older and medically vulnerable people. Early intervention to cool people down and rehydrate them can be lifesaving.’ 

The Met Office said the hot weather is being caused by high pressure over the UK, with a southerly air flow from the continent developing over the weekend to allow very high temperatures to start spreading northwards. The warmth is coming up from Spain and Portugal which have also had a record heatwave with 47C (117F) highs.

The warning also says ‘government advice is that 999 services should be used in emergencies only; seek advice from 111 if you need non-emergency health advice’ and ‘substantial changes in working practices and daily routines will be required’.

There will also be a ‘high risk of failure of heat-sensitive systems and equipment, potentially leading to localised loss of power and other essential services, such as water or mobile phone services’. 

The alert adds: ‘Significantly more people visiting coastal areas, lakes and rivers, leading to an increased risk of water safety incidents.’

Bookmaker Ladbrokes is now making it odds on at 1/2 that the UK’s hottest day on record will come next week. The Met Office has also warned of travel chaos, saying: ‘Delays on roads and road closures, along with delays and cancellations to rail and air travel, with significant welfare issues for those who experience even moderate delays.’

A meeting of London’s Strategic Communication Group was called today, and Transport for London warned commuters of a ‘reduced service’ on three Overground lines – Richmond to Stratford; Watford to Euston; and Romford to Upminster – ‘due to the hot weather’, with London Mayor Sadiq Khan warning of an ‘impact on travel’.

Mr Khan said: ‘The Met Office has now issued a red warning for extreme heat on Monday and Tuesday. This is potentially dangerous and a very serious consequence of climate change. This warning is not limited to the most vulnerable and means that substantial changes in all our daily routines will be required, and there is likely to be an impact on travel. 

‘All of the capital’s key agencies and emergency services are working closely together to ensure London is prepared for the extreme heat that is forecast and will continue to provide advice for Londoners ahead of Monday. I urge Londoners to be very careful and to look after each other in the comings days.’

Employment lawyer Liam Entwistle, of Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP in Scotland, said workers could be legally entitled to leave the office next week if temperatures become too hot to work. 

He said: ‘Bosses should be sensible and ensure their staff members aren’t carrying out highly strenuous work when temperatures soar, in order to avoid complaints from disgruntled employees. If it gets too hot to work, employees could have the right to take the day off work, especially if employers don’t put effective cooling measures in place.’

Mr Madge added that computer modelling had been ‘firming up around just how intense the heat will be for Monday and Tuesday, with the emphasis on Tuesday’. 

He added: ‘It’s now considered 80 per cent chance we will see the all-time UK record broken. There’s stronger indications now of 50 per cent chance of seeing 40C (104F) being observed somewhere in the UK, and most likely that would be within the red warning area for extreme heat.

‘Probably the most likely areas to look at would be north of London and up to Lincolnshire, inland. Somewhere like Peterborough, Grantham, Sandy, Stevenage… A1 corridor. If we get to 40C, that’s a very iconic threshold and shows that climate change is with us now. This is made much more likely because of climate change.’

Mr Madge warned that if people have vulnerable relatives or neighbours, ‘now is the time to make sure they’re putting suitable measures in place to be able to cope with the heat’. He added: ‘Because if the forecast is as we think it will be in the red warning area, then people’s lives are at risk. This is a very serious situation.’

Meanwhile, the heat has led to Hammersmith Bridge being wrapped in silver insulation foil to reflect the sun.

Sunbathers on Bournemouth beach in Dorset this morning as they enjoy the continuing hot weather for England

Sunbathers on Bournemouth beach in Dorset this morning as they enjoy the continuing hot weather for England

Sunbathers make the most of the hot weather on Bournemouth beach in Dorset this morning

Sunbathers make the most of the hot weather on Bournemouth beach in Dorset this morning

Sunbathers on Bournemouth beach in Dorset this morning as they enjoy the continuing hot weather for England

Sunbathers on Bournemouth beach in Dorset this morning as they enjoy the continuing hot weather for England

A group of women walk along the sand at Bournemouth beach in Dorset today as they enjoy the hot weather

A group of women walk along the sand at Bournemouth beach in Dorset today as they enjoy the hot weather

Sunbathers on Bournemouth beach in Dorset this morning as they enjoy the continuing hot weather for England

Sunbathers on Bournemouth beach in Dorset this morning as they enjoy the continuing hot weather for England

Two women in the water off Bournemouth beach in Dorset today as they enjoy the hot weather

Two women in the water off Bournemouth beach in Dorset today as they enjoy the hot weather

Sunbathers on Bournemouth beach in Dorset this morning as they enjoy the continuing hot weather for England

Sunbathers on Bournemouth beach in Dorset this morning as they enjoy the continuing hot weather for England

A group of women set up a tent on Bournemouth beach in Dorset today as they enjoy the hot weather

A group of women set up a tent on Bournemouth beach in Dorset today as they enjoy the hot weather

Two men enjoy a drink on Bournemouth beach in Dorset today as they make the most of the hot weather

Two men enjoy a drink on Bournemouth beach in Dorset today as they make the most of the hot weather

Sunbathers on Bournemouth beach in Dorset this morning as they enjoy the continuing hot weather for England

Sunbathers on Bournemouth beach in Dorset this morning as they enjoy the continuing hot weather for England

A zip wire across Bournemouth beach is used today as sunseekers flock to the Dorset coast

A zip wire across Bournemouth beach is used today as sunseekers flock to the Dorset coast

Sunbathers on Bournemouth beach in Dorset this morning as they enjoy the continuing hot weather for England

Sunbathers on Bournemouth beach in Dorset this morning as they enjoy the continuing hot weather for England

Two people enjoy an ice cream on Bournemouth beach in Dorset today as they make the most of the hot weather

Two people enjoy an ice cream on Bournemouth beach in Dorset today as they make the most of the hot weather

Sunbathers on Bournemouth beach in Dorset this morning as they enjoy the continuing hot weather for England

Sunbathers on Bournemouth beach in Dorset this morning as they enjoy the continuing hot weather for England

A group of people walk along the sand at Bournemouth beach in Dorset today as they enjoy the hot weather

A group of people walk along the sand at Bournemouth beach in Dorset today as they enjoy the hot weather

Sunbathers on Bournemouth beach in Dorset this morning as they enjoy the continuing hot weather for England

Sunbathers on Bournemouth beach in Dorset this morning as they enjoy the continuing hot weather for England

People in the sea at Brighton Beach in East Sussex today as the warm weather continues for England

People in the sea at Brighton Beach in East Sussex today as the warm weather continues for England

Visitors enjoy the hot weather on Brighton beach in East Sussex today as the heatwave continues across England

Visitors enjoy the hot weather on Brighton beach in East Sussex today as the heatwave continues across England

People in the sea at Brighton Beach in East Sussex today as the warm weather continues for England

People in the sea at Brighton Beach in East Sussex today as the warm weather continues for England

A woman sunbathes on Brighton beach in East Sussex this morning as England continues to experience very hot weather

A woman sunbathes on Brighton beach in East Sussex this morning as England continues to experience very hot weather

People enjoy the sunshine on the beach in Brighton today as the Met Office issued a red extreme heat warning for next week

People enjoy the sunshine on the beach in Brighton today as the Met Office issued a red extreme heat warning for next week

People in the sea and on the pebbles at Brighton Beach in East Sussex today as the warm weather continues for England

People in the sea and on the pebbles at Brighton Beach in East Sussex today as the warm weather continues for England

Beachgoers enjoy the weather at Goodrington Sands in Paignton, Devon, this afternoon

Beachgoers enjoy the weather at Goodrington Sands in Paignton, Devon, this afternoon

A locomotive train on the Dartmouth Steam Railway travels past beach huts at Goodrington Sands in Paignton today

A locomotive train on the Dartmouth Steam Railway travels past beach huts at Goodrington Sands in Paignton today

Beachgoers enjoy the weather at Goodrington Sands in Paignton, Devon, this afternoon

Beachgoers enjoy the weather at Goodrington Sands in Paignton, Devon, this afternoon

A locomotive train on the Dartmouth Steam Railway travels past beach huts at Goodrington Sands in Paignton today

A locomotive train on the Dartmouth Steam Railway travels past beach huts at Goodrington Sands in Paignton today

Beachgoers enjoy the weather at Goodrington Sands in Paignton, Devon, this afternoon

Beachgoers enjoy the weather at Goodrington Sands in Paignton, Devon, this afternoon

Met Office video

Network Rail tweet

Met Office chief executive Penny Endersby said in a sombre video online that the forecast is ‘absolutely unprecedented’, while Network Rail warned people to ‘only travel in England and Wales if absolutely necessary’ next Monday and Tuesday

The Grade II*-listed bridge in West London has had a £420,000 ‘temperature control system’ fitted to reduce stress on its cast-iron pedestals, on which fractures widened in an August 2020 heatwave and forced it to be shut.

What are the potential impacts of extreme heat in amber & red warning?

The Met Office has issued an unprecedented red weather warning for ‘extreme heat’ for Monday and Tuesday for parts of central and southern England. 

This comes on top of an amber warning for some of England on Sunday – and for all of England and Wales and southern Scotland on Monday and Tuesday. 

The extreme heat warning system ranges from yellow to red and indicates how likely and how much of an impact the weather will have on public life. The alerts warn of ‘widespread impacts on people and infrastructure’.

Forecasters say the heatwave could impact the health of everyone – not only the vulnerable – while it could also impact electricity, gas and water supplies. Here is how it could impact different parts of daily life:

RAIL TRAVEL

The Met Office says that delays and cancellations to rail travel are possible with ‘potential for significant welfare issues for those who experience even moderate delays’. 

And Network Rail has warned people to travel only if absolutely necessary amid the high temperatures, with speed restrictions and disruption likely.

Jake Kelly, Network Rail’s System Operator group director, said: ‘Rail passengers in England and Wales should only travel if necessary on Monday and Tuesday as there will be delays and cancellations to train services due to the unprecedented heat we’re expecting.

‘The wellbeing of our passengers is our first priority so we’re asking all passengers who decide to travel to take time to prepare before leaving the house.’

Network Rail has warned that services across the UK may be subject to the speed restrictions to avoid tracks buckling, with Avanti West Coast, South Western Railway and Heathrow Express among the operators warning of potential disruption. West Midlands Trains and London Northwestern Railway have already imposed limits on sections of their network this week.

ROADS 

The Met Office says that delays on roads and road closures are possible during the heat alert period. 

The RAC has urged motorists to ‘think carefully before they drive, and do everything they can to avoid a breakdown’. It says motorists should check the coolant and oil levels under the bonnet when the engine is cold. 

It added: ‘If temperatures were to go as high as around 40C as some are predicting, then people should question their decision to drive in the first place.’

Hampshire County Council is preparing to deploy gritters in response to melting roads, saying that the machines will be spreading light dustings of sand which ‘acts like a sponge to soak up excess bitumen’.

Motorists who find tar stuck to their tyres are advised to wash it off with warm soapy water.

AIRPORTS

The Met Office has warned that air travel could also be disruption during the heat. This is because planes can become too heavy to take off in very hot weather due to reduced air density resulting in a lack of lift.

This happened during a heatwave in summer 2018 at London City Airport when some passengers had to be removed so the services become light enough to take off on the relatively short runway.

UTILITIES

The Met Office has warned that a failure of ‘heat-sensitive systems and equipment’ is possible. This could result in a loss of power and other essential services, such as water, electricity and gas. 

Hot weather can lead to high demand on the power network because people are turning on fans and air conditioning – and the heat can also lead to a drop in the efficiency of overhead power cables and transformers.

WORKPLACES

The Met Office says that ‘changes in working practices and daily routines will be required’ in the extreme heat. 

There is no specific law for a maximum working temperature, or when it is too hot to work.

But employers are expected to ensure that in offices or similar environments, the temperature in workplaces must be ‘reasonable’. Companies must follow follow health and safety laws which include keeping the temperature at a comfortable level, known as ‘thermal comfort’; and providing clean and fresh air.

The Trades Union Congress says that during heatwaves staff should be allowed to start work earlier, or stay later, leave jackets and ties in the wardrobe and have regular breaks. It is also calling for an absolute maximum indoor temperature of 30C (86F) – or 27C (81F) for strenuous jobs – to legally indicate when work should stop.

HEALTH 

The Met Office has said that adverse health effects could be ‘experienced by all, not just limited to those most vulnerable to extreme heat, leading to serious illness or danger to life’ during the warning period. 

In addition, charity Asthma and Lung UK has warned up to three million asthma sufferers could be affected by high pollen levels, so should use their inhalers. 

SCHOOLS  

Plans to cope with the heat, created by the NHS and UKHSA, say children should not do ‘vigorous physical activity’ when temperatures rise above 30C (86F).

Some sports days have been cancelled this week, while official advice suggests moving school start, end and break times to avoid the hottest points in the day.

The bridge – which was reopened to pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic in July 2021 – now has what the council labelled as a ‘giant air conditioning unit on each of the four pedestal chains’, which are anchored to the river bed and regulated to be kept under 13C (55F) in the summer. If any of them reach 18C (64F), the bridge will be shut.

The cooling system is now being run through the night and parts of the chains that are above the water level on the 135-year-old bridge over the River Thames are being wrapped in silver insulation foil which reflects the sun.

Meanwhile students at three primary schools in Herefordshire have already been told they will not be allowed to play outside. Schools are also encouraging pupils to wear a T-shirt and shorts instead of normal clothes.

The Hereford Academy is allowing secondary school pupils to start early next week and finish at 2pm to allow them to be ‘away for the hottest part of the day’. The academy said it would also bring its sports day forward to avoid the high temperatures next week.

And parents at Marlbrook, Little Dewchurch and St Martin’s primary schools were told PE lessons will be scrapped and pupils will not be allowed outside to play. A letter added: ‘We are also giving parents the option to keep children at home on Monday.’ 

Crestwood Community School in Eastleigh, Hampshire, is among the schools to cancel sports day, saying that ‘we do not feel that it is safe for students to be out in the heat all day, taking part in physical activity.’

In East London, the headteacher of Clapton Girls’ Academy warned of an early finish at 12.30pm amid fears school facilities will be unable to cope with the heat. 

Anna Feltham told parents: ‘Already, many classrooms are very hot, even with fans, and students are struggling to keep cool, drink enough water and maintain concentration in lessons.

‘Next week’s heatwave will make many teaching rooms unbearably hot by lesson two and five. We have reviewed a number of options but do not have sufficient ‘cool’ rooms to re-room lessons into.’

St John’s CE Middle School Academy in Bromsgrove has said pupils ‘can come to school wearing non-uniform to enable children to wear loose, light-coloured clothing that will help keep them as cool as possible’. 

The school said it would sell ice pops to pupils in aid of Cancer Research, and that pupils would be encouraged not to run during playtimes to prevent heat exhaustion.

At the Co-op Academy Swinton in Greater Manchester, pupils are being permitted to wear their PE kit rather than uniform on Monday and Tuesday, as a ‘temporary adjustment to the requirements for uniform’.

Arnold Hill Spencer Academy in Nottingham said pupils will have the option to wear their PE kit instead of their normal uniform, while pupils preferring to wear uniform will not need to wear a blazer or tie on Monday or Tuesday.

Great Dunham Primary in Norfolk also advised that all pupils should ‘wear PE kits rather than uniform on Monday and Tuesday’. 

The school added: ‘Please ensure they have a sunhat, lotion and water bottles. We will not be going out at lunchtime, instead the children will eat and do activities in class. Stay safe.’

Abercarn Primary School in Newport also said that pupils should apply sunscreen, wear a cap or hat and bring a water bottle to school, while pupils can wear non-uniform from Monday to Wednesday next week.

Andy Byers, headteacher of Framwellgate School Durham, said he would be encouraging pupils to drink water and wear sunscreen and pupils would come to school in PE kit. We’ve got a sports day, we’re going ahead with it, but we’re making sure that we’ve got measures in place, risk assessments in place to do it.’

In an update to schools, the Government signposted heatwave guidance for teachers and other early years professionals, noting that children sweat less than adults and cannot regulate their body temperature as well, which puts them at risk of heat stress and exhaustion.

During heatwaves, teachers are advised to encourage pupils to wear loose clothing and sunhats ‘with wide brims’. 

Staff should open windows as early as possible before pupils arrive in the morning to improve ventilation and should keep the use of electric light and equipment to a minimum. 

Mechanical fans can be used when temperatures are below 35C but not at higher temperatures as they can make dehydration worse.

And Red Hall Primary School in Darlington has banned children from playing outside in the scorching heat unless they wear a hat, saying it was a ‘real concern’ that many pupils were attending school without one this week.

Health chiefs fear the NHS will be overwhelmed by a number of heat-related casualties if the mercury does indeed rise to levels only usually seen at Death Valley in California, which is the world’s hottest place.

The chief executive of Milton Keynes University Hospital said routine outpatient appointments and surgery would not go ahead on Monday and Tuesday following the warning over extreme heat.

Joe Harrison said on Twitter: ‘It has been extremely busy @MKHospital over the past week, with more patients than usual needing emergency care and significant pressure on our staff. As we go into the weekend, temperatures are forecast to rise up to 39C on Monday and Tuesday.

‘We have taken the decision to stand down routine outpatient appointments and surgery on Monday and Tuesday because many of patients travelling to these appointments are frail and at increased risk, and due to the unpredictable nature of very high temperatures on demand for emergency care and on care environment.

Beachgoers flock to the seaside resort of Lyme Regis to soak up the sun on another day of scorching hot sunshine today

Beachgoers flock to the seaside resort of Lyme Regis to soak up the sun on another day of scorching hot sunshine today

Sunbathers on the beach enjoying the scorching hot sunshine at the seaside resort of Weston-super-Mare in Somerset today

Sunbathers on the beach enjoying the scorching hot sunshine at the seaside resort of Weston-super-Mare in Somerset today

People enjoy the warm weather while sat on deckchairs at the Somerset seaside resort of Weston-super-Mare today

People enjoy the warm weather while sat on deckchairs at the Somerset seaside resort of Weston-super-Mare today

People enjoy the weather in London this morning as they make the most of the conditions in a park

People enjoy the weather in London this morning as they make the most of the conditions in a park

A woman sunbathes on parched grass in London today as people make the most of the hot weather in the capital

A woman sunbathes on parched grass in London today as people make the most of the hot weather in the capital

A woman uses an umbrella to shelter from the sun near Hammersmith in West London today

A woman uses an umbrella to shelter from the sun near Hammersmith in West London today

People walk along Whitehall in Westminster today as they take a look at Downing Street in the sunshine

People walk along Whitehall in Westminster today as they take a look at Downing Street in the sunshine

Partially suntanned rowers travel on the River Thames near Hammersmith in West London in the sunny weather today

Partially suntanned rowers travel on the River Thames near Hammersmith in West London in the sunny weather today

A woman sunbathes on parched grass in London today as people make the most of the hot weather in the capital

A woman sunbathes on parched grass in London today as people make the most of the hot weather in the capital

A man enjoys the sun on his boat on the River Thames near Hammersmith in West London today

A man enjoys the sun on his boat on the River Thames near Hammersmith in West London today

People enjoy the weather in London this morning as they make the most of the conditions in a park

People enjoy the weather in London this morning as they make the most of the conditions in a park

People enjoy the sunny weather on the banks of the River Thames near Hammersmith in West London today

People enjoy the sunny weather on the banks of the River Thames near Hammersmith in West London today

A woman sits in a park in London today as people enjoy the warm weather across the country

A woman sits in a park in London today as people enjoy the warm weather across the country

Rowers enjoy the sunny weather on the River Thames near Hammersmith in West London today

Rowers enjoy the sunny weather on the River Thames near Hammersmith in West London today

Empty deckchairs sit in a parched Hyde Park in London today as temperatures continue to rise and visitors stay in the shade

Empty deckchairs sit in a parched Hyde Park in London today as temperatures continue to rise and visitors stay in the shade

People enjoy the weather in London this morning as they make the most of the conditions in a park

People enjoy the weather in London this morning as they make the most of the conditions in a park

A woman walks her dog through a parched Hyde Park in London this afternoon as temperatures continue to rise

A woman walks her dog through a parched Hyde Park in London this afternoon as temperatures continue to rise

A woman uses an umbrella to shelter from the sun near Hammersmith in West London this afternoon

A woman uses an umbrella to shelter from the sun near Hammersmith in West London this afternoon

People make the most of the conditions in a park in London today as the warm weather continues

People make the most of the conditions in a park in London today as the warm weather continues

‘We will do all we can to keep wards and departments as cool as possible, but we know this will be a challenge given the very high outside temperature.’

What are Britain’s ten hottest days on record? 

1)   38.7C – July 25, 2019

2)   38.5C – August 10, 2003

3)   37.8C – July 31, 2020

4)   37.1C – August 3, 1990

=5)  36.7C – July 1, 2015

=5)  36.7C – August 9, 1911

7)   36.6C – August 2, 1990

8)   36.5C – July 19, 2006

=9)  36.4C – August 7, 2020

=9)  36.4C – August 6, 2003

North Wales Police said today that a paddleboarder had died after getting into difficulty in water off Conwy Morfa. The force said it was called to reports of three people in trouble at 10.14pm yesterday.

In a statement, the police said: ‘Officers attended alongside colleagues from HM Coastguard, RNLI and Welsh Ambulance, who attended to three casualties.

‘Two of the casualties were taken by ambulance to Ysbyty Gwynedd but, sadly, despite the best efforts of all involved, one person passed away in hospital.

‘The local coroner has been informed and specialist officers will be supporting the family of the deceased.’

The Met Office warning from Sunday to Tuesday – which was issued earlier this week – said the weather could cause health problems across the population, not just among people vulnerable to extreme heat, leading to potentially serious illness or danger to life.

Rail firm Avanti West Coast has warned passengers who wish to use services between London Euston and Scotland to plan ahead due to the impact of the heat on rail lines. 

The company said that weekend services may be cancelled at short notice while journeys on Monday and Tuesday will be subject to amended timetables.

Jake Kelly, Network Rail’s System Operator group director, said: ‘Rail passengers in England and Wales should only travel if necessary on Monday and Tuesday as there will be delays and cancellations to train services due to the unprecedented heat we’re expecting. 

‘The wellbeing of our passengers is our first priority so we’re asking all passengers who decide to travel to take time to prepare before leaving the house.

School tweets

School tweets

Twitter users have claimed some schools and nurseries are closing next Monday and Tuesday because of the hot weather

‘Remember to bring a water bottle with you, along with whatever else you need to keep yourself well in the heat. Water bottles can be refilled for free at most Network Rail’s managed stations. 

Hammersmith Bridge is given air conditioning unit to stop it overheating

Hammersmith Bridge has been wrapped in silver insulation foil to reflect the sun during the heatwave as forecasters confirmed parts of England are now on course to hit a record-breaking 104F (40C) next week.

The Grade II*-listed bridge in West London has had a £420,000 ‘temperature control system’ fitted to reduce stress on its cast-iron pedestals, on which fractures widened in an August 2020 heatwave and forced it to be shut.

Hammersmith Bridge has been wrapped in silver insulation foil and fitted with a £420,000 'temperature control system'

Hammersmith Bridge has been wrapped in silver insulation foil and fitted with a £420,000 ‘temperature control system’

The bridge – which was reopened to pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic in July 2021 – now has what the council labelled as a ‘giant air conditioning unit on each of the four pedestal chains’, which are anchored to the river bed and regulated to be kept under 13C (55F) in the summer. If any of them reach 18C (64F), the bridge will be shut.

The cooling system is now being run through the night and parts of the chains that are above the water level on the 135-year-old bridge over the River Thames are being wrapped in silver insulation foil which reflects the sun.

Project manager Sebastian Springer said: ‘The safety of the public is our first priority. The temperature control system allows us to track weather spikes and maintain a constant temperature. As we deal with the current extreme heat, we are also coming up with innovative solutions to keep the temperature within the threshold.’

‘Journeys will take significantly longer and delays are likely as speed restrictions are introduced to keep passengers and railway staff safe, so make sure to allow considerably more time to complete your journey and be prepared for very hot conditions.’

Network Rail said response teams will be deployed to mitigate the impact of the extreme heat where possible, but passengers are likely to experience disruption if current forecasts are realised.

Steel rails absorb heat easily and tend to be around 20 degrees above the surrounding air temperature.

When steel becomes very hot it expands and rails can bend, flex and, in serious cases, buckle.

The overhead electric lines which power trains in some parts of the country are also susceptible to faults in extreme temperatures when the steel wires overheat, which can cause them to hang too low and increase the risk of getting caught on passing trains and knocking out the electricity supply.

In recent days, photographs of parched rivers and reservoirs have shown the reality of the bone-dry country.

Some parts of the UK have seen barely a drop of rain since the start of July, spelling issues for farmers after the first half of the year was one of the driest on record – and raising the prospect of still higher food prices.

With forecasters issuing doom-laden warnings of ‘hundreds if not thousands of excess deaths’ in a ‘frightening’ scorching hot spell beginning on Sunday, ministers yesterday held their second Cobra civil contingencies committee meeting of the week.

Teaching unions say the weather will make it ‘potentially dangerous’ for children to take part in physical activity in the blazing sunshine, while the NHS is facing a ‘surge’ in demand from heat-related conditions.

The Met Office is still predicting temperatures on Monday or Tuesday could exceed the record 38.7C (102F) recorded in Cambridge in 2019.

Forecasters say there is currently a 60 per cent chance of breaking this record. BBC Weather expects highs of 39C (102F) next Monday and 40C (104F) next Tuesday.

But the second heatwave in a week could end with a bang with the prospect a wave of thunderstorms.

Met Office chief meteorologist Paul Gundersen said today: ‘Exceptional, perhaps record-breaking temperatures are likely early next week, quite widely across the red warning area on Monday, and focussed a little more east and north on Tuesday. 

‘Currently there is a 50 per cent chance we could see temperatures top 40C and 80 per cent we will see a new maximum temperature reached.

‘Nights are also likely to be exceptionally warm, especially in urban areas. This is likely to lead to widespread impacts on people and infrastructure. 

‘Therefore, it is important people plan for the heat and consider changing their routines. This level of heat can have adverse health effects.’

People walk past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in London today as the warm weather continues in the capital

People walk past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in London today as the warm weather continues in the capital

Wheat in a field on another very hot day in Taplow, Buckinghamshire, today as the hot weather continues

Wheat in a field on another very hot day in Taplow, Buckinghamshire, today as the hot weather continues

People walk across Westminster Bridge in London today as the warm weather continues in the capital

People walk across Westminster Bridge in London today as the warm weather continues in the capital

A runner make his way through barley fields at Dunsden in Oxfordshire today in the early morning sunshine

A runner make his way through barley fields at Dunsden in Oxfordshire today in the early morning sunshine

Farm workers picking coriander on a very hot morning at Taplow in Buckinghamshire today

Farm workers picking coriander on a very hot morning at Taplow in Buckinghamshire today

Two people taking a selfie opposite the Houses of Parliament in London today as the hot weather continues

Two people taking a selfie opposite the Houses of Parliament in London today as the hot weather continues

Farmers are having to water crops more than ever due to the hot weather. Taplow in Buckinghamshire is pictured today

Farmers are having to water crops more than ever due to the hot weather. Taplow in Buckinghamshire is pictured today

Pastel-coloured skies at dawn at Dunsden in Oxfordshire today ahead of the Met Office heat warning beginning on Sunday

Pastel-coloured skies at dawn at Dunsden in Oxfordshire today ahead of the Met Office heat warning beginning on Sunday

Farm workers in Taplow, Buckinghamshire, today as the dry weather causes problems for crops

Farm workers in Taplow, Buckinghamshire, today as the dry weather causes problems for crops

People walk alongside the River Thames this morning opposite the Houses of Parliament in London as the warmth continues

People walk alongside the River Thames this morning opposite the Houses of Parliament in London as the warmth continues

A fire coloured sky above St Mary's Lighthouse in Whitley Bay on the North East coast of England just before sunrise today

A fire coloured sky above St Mary’s Lighthouse in Whitley Bay on the North East coast of England just before sunrise today

A beautiful sunrise this morning in the Oxfordshire countryside at Dunsden as the warm weather continues

A beautiful sunrise this morning in the Oxfordshire countryside at Dunsden as the warm weather continues

Meanwhile in Scotland... Fans shelter from the rain during day two of The Open at the Old Course at St Andrews today

Meanwhile in Scotland… Fans shelter from the rain during day two of The Open at the Old Course at St Andrews today

And Penny Endersby, the Met Office’s chief executive, said in a sombre video shared online: ‘The extreme heat that we’re forecasting right now is absolutely unprecedented.

Schools tell parents to collect their children at 1pm or stay at home next week warning classrooms will be TOO HOT 

Health officials today insisted there is ‘no reason’ for schools to close during next week’s heatwave after a wave of headteachers told parents to collect their children at 1pm.

Head teachers pushed the panic button this lunchtime after the Met Office warned a new UK record temperature could be set early next week.

Stunned mothers and fathers at some schools were told to pick up their children at 1pm on Monday and Tuesday, or that the days would be entirely stay at home occasions.

But today a health official blasted the proposal, saying there was ‘no public health reason’ for schools to close and many air-conditioned classrooms might actually be cooler than people’s homes.

The Hereford Academy announced an earlier start and finish to the school day, while parents at Marlbrook, Little Dewchurch and St Martin’s primary schools were told PE lessons will be scrapped and pupils will not be allowed outside to play.

A letter added: ‘We are also giving parents the option to keep children at home on Monday.’

‘We’ve seen when climate change has driven such unprecedented severe weather events all around the world it can be difficult for people to make the best decisions in these situations because nothing in their life experience has led them to know what to expect.

‘Here in the UK we’re used to treating a hot spell as a chance to go and play in the sun. This is not that sort of weather. Our lifestyles and our infrastructure are not adapted to what is coming.

‘Please treat the warnings we are putting out as seriously as you would a red or amber warning from us for wind or snow and follow the advice. 

‘Stay out of the sun, keep your home cool, think about adjusting your plans for the warning period.’

Downing Street has said speed restrictions on rail lines may be required under contingency plans as temperatures soar next week.

A No 10 spokesman said discussions with sectors including the NHS will ‘continue to work closely with all of those sectors over today, through the weekend and into early next week’.

‘Specialist teams from Network Rail and TfL (Transport for London) will continue to monitor the impact of high temperatures to try and make sure they can keep services running safely and reliably for customers,’ he added.

‘It may be the case that speed restrictions are likely to be put in place on some parts of the network next week to manage the hot weather and to avoid any potential damage.

‘DfT (Department for Transport) are engaging with port operators and highways agencies, as well as the police, to make sure plans are in place particularly in places where you may see queuing.’

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will be giving advice about Euro 2022 matches being held during the heatwave emergency.

Discussing contingency measures, a No 10 spokesman said: ‘Another example is DCMS is engaged with sporting sector bodies and the organisations of major events taking place next week, such as the Women’s Euros.’

Cancelled events

Cancelled events

Further events due to take place over the coming days have now been cancelled as concern mounts over the heat warning

Asked if it could lead to matches being cancelled, the spokesman said: ‘I believe it will be more advisory, the organisation of the event is for the organisers, but DCMS will engage with sporting authorities.’

Glass-fronted Parliament building to partly close

Portcullis House in London

Portcullis House in London

The weather is expected to make a section of a glass-fronted Parliament building too hot for Government workers.

The Home Office helpdesk in Portcullis House will be shut on Monday and Tuesday, peers heard.

Portcullis House was opened in February 2001 and provides offices for MPs and their staff. The main atrium is also used as a meeting spot.

Green Party peer Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle raised concerns as the House of Lords debated the Healthy Homes Bill, which sets out a series of principles including that all new homes must be designed to provide ‘year-round thermal comfort for inhabitants’.

Lady Bennett said: ‘I want to bring us very close to home and point out to noble Lords that on Monday and Tuesday in Portcullis House the Home Office service office in Portcullis House will be closed because it is expected to be so hot that it won’t be safe for people to work there. If we want a metaphor for the unfitness of our current politics and of everything we have delivered for our society, there, in a nutshell – or in a glass-shelled office – is your metaphor.’

Immigration and passport delays are among the issues MPs and peers can raise with Home Office staff there.

Boris Johnson is working at Chequers on Friday where he plans to stay over the weekend.

But Downing Street was unable to say whether he will be joining heatwave discussions.

A No 10 spokesman said: ‘Cobra met yesterday and officials from across Government will continue to meet regularly both today and throughout the weekend.’

Asked if the PM is involved, the spokesman said: ‘As always the Prime Minister is kept up to date with all the latest information.’

Pressed if he will be joining talks from Chequers, the spokesman added: ‘He’s kept thoroughly updated on the latest situation.’

Downing Street has not issued work from home guidance during the heatwave.

A No 10 spokesman said: ‘Different sectors and different professions may have different staffing requirements, it wouldn’t be for me to set out a broad policy for everybody, that would be a matter for individuals and their employers.’

It was understood that closing schools was not being discussed as part of the contingency measures during the heatwave.

Commons Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans has said that early next week, people should take water with them if they are travelling.

His comments came as shadow health secretary Wes Streeting raised a point of order in the Commons, saying: ‘The Met Office has issued a red warning for the first time ever as a result of the heatwave that the country is likely to experience on Monday and Tuesday next week.

‘I wonder if you have been given any notice from the Department of Health and Social Care of their intention to make a statement to this House about the health consequences for the public. 

‘Not least, given this red warning involves the warning there is very likely to be risk to life and of course the newspapers, the television screens, the airwaves are full of reports of overwhelmed ambulance services and accident emergency departments.

Hammersmith Bridge in West London, picturd today, has been wrapped in silver insulation foil to reflect the sun amid the heat

Hammersmith Bridge in West London, picturd today, has been wrapped in silver insulation foil to reflect the sun amid the heat

The Grade II*-listed Hammersmith Bridge in West London has had a £420,000 'temperature control system' fitted

The Grade II*-listed Hammersmith Bridge in West London has had a £420,000 ‘temperature control system’ fitted

The 'temperature control system' fitted to Hammersmith Bridge is intended to reduce stress on its cast-iron pedestals

The ‘temperature control system’ fitted to Hammersmith Bridge is intended to reduce stress on its cast-iron pedestals

Hammersmith Bridge now has what the council labelled as a 'giant air conditioning unit on each of the four pedestal chains'

Hammersmith Bridge now has what the council labelled as a ‘giant air conditioning unit on each of the four pedestal chains’

Parts of the chains that are above the water level on Hammersmith Bridge are being wrapped in silver foil to reflect the sun

Parts of the chains that are above the water level on Hammersmith Bridge are being wrapped in silver foil to reflect the sun

Hammersmith Bridge in West London has been wrapped in silver insulation foil to reflect the sun during the heatwave

Hammersmith Bridge in West London has been wrapped in silver insulation foil to reflect the sun during the heatwave

Hammersmith Bridge has been wrapped in silver insulation foil and fitted with a £420,000 'temperature control system'

Hammersmith Bridge has been wrapped in silver insulation foil and fitted with a £420,000 ‘temperature control system’

‘Given the Secretary of State failed to answer my urgent question on Wednesday, I would have thought the invisible man might make an appearance today to give the public the advice and the reassurance that our public services and our emergency services will be able to cope in light of this emergency.’

Mr Evans said he has been given ‘no notification’ there will be a statement in the Commons from DHSC or any other departments, adding: ‘It’s timely that he has made that point of order in order that people should take advice because this is unusual circumstances and people should, if they are travelling, take water with them.

‘And indeed make sure that there’s plenty of ventilation and if they are feeling unwell, they should seek attention for that.’

Reservoirs were yesterday particularly low in Yorkshire, where five million customers have been warned that a hosepipe ban – a measure not seen in Britain for a decade – cannot be ruled out. 

Others in the Peak District appeared down to little more than a trickle, although ministers say they are ‘not concerned’ about water supplies.

Some rivers were also running dry, with water levels on the Waveney in Suffolk ‘exceptionally low’ at around 30 per cent of normal for the time of year, according to the Environment Agency. 

East Anglia as a whole has seen two-thirds of its average rainfall over the first half of the year – the driest January to June period since 1996, and the 11th driest since records began in 1836.

Meanwhile Wales – normally the wettest part of Britain – also saw far less rainfall than normal between March and June, with the River Teifi in Ceredigion at record low levels.

Fishing has been banned in the rivers Wye and Usk, with exceptionally warm water already killing fish.

West Sussex, the Isle of Wight and the City of London all recorded just 0.1mm (0.003ins) of rain between July 1 and July 12, according to the Met Office.

Across England, average rainfall in the first 12 days of the month was 5.1mm (0.2 ins), less than a tenth of the average for the whole of July, 66.48mm (2.62ins).

Wales was also far drier than normal, with 8.8mm (0.35ins) of rain compared to an average across July of 98.56mm (3.88ins).

Sales of fans soar by 640% and it will cost at least £300 to air condition your home as desperate Brits try to cool down in heatwave 

By RORY TINGLE FOR MAILONLINE

Sales of fans and air conditioning units are soaring as Britain struggles to stay cool ahead of record 41C (106F) highs on Monday and Tuesday. 

Building materials retailer Toolstation said the heatwave had led to a 641 per cent rise in sales of its fans, while John Lewis is shifting 525 per cent more air conditioning units and 1,633% more parasols. 

Air conditioning units often cost more than £300 and are expensive to run. The average portable air conditioning unit costs around 28p an hour, or £19.60 if you use it every night for a week – amounting to around £80 per month.  

Meanwhile, the typical 120w pedestal fan will set you back around 3.4p an hour on average, according to Uswitch, meaning leaving it on between 10pm and 8am would cost you around 33p. Over a whole week this would amount to £2.35 – 75p more than last summer thanks to the rise in household bills.

Interestingly, experts say mechanical fans should be used when temperatures are below 35C but not at higher temperatures as they can make dehydration worse.

Tesco said it had sold 14 times more paddling pools over the past week than the week before, while sales of inflatable sprinklers and water games had increased by 1,568 per cent.

It is also gearing up to sell more than 9 million iced treats this week, as well as more than 900,000 packs of BBQ meat, two million packs of sausages, nearly three million punnets of strawberries and more than 5.5 million bottles of wine.

The grocer is also selling discounted cherries after the high temperatures created an unexpected glut of British-grown cherries.

John Lewis reported sales of fans were up 256 per cent on last year, while blackout curtains were up 193 per cent.

Waitrose said sales of ice cream were up 20 per cent on last week and sun care products had soared by 220 per cent, while searches for canned cocktails on Waitrose.com had increased by 188% on last month.

Lakeland said sales of a patio midge and mosquito repeller machine were up 53 per cent on last week as householders planned to spend evenings outside, and the retailer had sold 20 per cent more insulated cool bags.

With the exception of Yorkshire Water, which has seen reservoirs dwindle to levels not seen since 1995, water companies around the UK say supplies are still healthy.

However, all of them have urged customers to cut down on how much they use during sunny weather.

Farmers have warned the dry soil could cut yields of barley, wheat and other crops, potentially further exacerbating the cost of living crisis.

Robert Anthony, who farms more than 1,200 hectares in the Vale of Glamorgan, said the lack of rainfall ‘is having a huge impact on all our crops’.

Rhys Lougher, who has a herd of 120 dairy cows near Bridgend, South Wales, said milk yield has dropped by five litres a day per cow as the animals struggle in the heat.

‘They can cope with the odd hot day, but a prolonged spell takes its toll and we are worried about this weekend,’ he told Farmers’ Weekly.

Richard Bramley, chairman of the National Farmers’ Union’s environment forum, said the industry’s approach to water management was ‘way behind’ the challenges of a changing climate.

The end of this week has seen near-average temperatures and a scattering of showers following four consecutive days of temperatures above 30C (86F).

But an the extreme heat warning remains in place for much of England and Wales from Sunday through to Tuesday night.

It prompted former BBC weatherman John Hammond to warn of ‘hundreds if not thousands of excess deaths’ next week in ‘frightening’ heat.

He told GB News yesterday: ‘We all like nice weather but this will not be nice weather, this will be potentially lethal weather for a couple of days. It will brief, but it will be brutal.

 ’40C (104F) is the sort of temperature that this country, I’m afraid, is just not geared up to cope with. So if you’re an employer, I’d be worried about early next week how your workers are going to safely get to work.

‘And if you’re an employee, then I would be asking my employer with potentially railway lines going buckled and lots of infrastructure disruption, how am I going to get to work, should I be getting to work?’

David Fothergill, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said today: ‘With a red heat alert having been issued for the first time by the Met Office, people should avoid unnecessary travel and take action now to keep yourself and others safe. Extreme heat is a serious thing.

‘Research published this week shows that nearly 800 extra deaths in the UK are caused by excessive heat. With a period of record breaking heat due, people should remember to take care. It is not just those who may be more vulnerable who are at risk from these extreme temperatures. Anyone could potentially fall ill if they have not taken adequate precautions.

‘No-one is immune to the power of the sun. Drinking plenty of water, keeping our homes cool, avoiding direct sunlight during the hottest hours of the day and using sunscreen are sensible precautions we all need to remember.’

After chairing a second meeting of Cobra yesterday, Cabinet Office minister Kit Malthouse said the Government was preparing for a ‘surge’ in demand on the NHS and other services.

He told BBC Radio 4’s The World At One that ‘individual behavioural change’ was of ‘critical’ importance.

That meant doing ‘all the stuff they would do when it is very hot – wear a hat, drink water’, but also keeping an eye on vulnerable groups such as the elderly and young babies.

NHS faces ‘surge’ in demand during heatwave

The NHS is facing a ‘surge’ in demand from the heatwave, amid warnings extreme temperatures next week could cause death, illness and disruption.

An extreme heat warning for much of England and Wales is in place for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, with temperatures likely to peak in excess of 35C (95F) across southern, central and eastern areas of England.

The Met Office warning says the extreme heat could cause health problems across the population, not just among people vulnerable to extreme heat, leading to potential serious illness or danger to life.

People are being urged to stay out of the sun in the middle of the day, stay hydrated, look out for vulnerable people, never leave children or pets in a parked car, and keep curtains closed to keep out the sun.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, urged people to check on older relatives, friends and neighbours to see if they needed anything during the high heat.

‘Any older person who is already coping with significant health issues, especially if they impact their heart or their lungs, is going to find the coming heatwave a challenge,’ she warned.

The Cabinet Office minister Kit Malthouse has said the Government is preparing for a ‘surge’ in demand on the NHS and other services due to the expected heatwave.

After chairing a meeting of the Cobra civil contingencies committee in Whitehall, Mr Malthouse urged the public to look out for people who were particularly vulnerable in the heat.

‘The key thing we can do is prepare the Government services for what may be a surge in demand – not least the health service and elsewhere – but also critically communicate that the first line of defence is actually individual behavioural change,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s The World At One.

‘People need to take care, do all the stuff they would do when it is very hot – wear a hat, drink water – but critically also (with) the most vulnerable groups – the elderly, those with cardiovascular problems and the very young – that people look out for them and take care.’

However he insisted water supplies nationally were ‘fine’, saying ‘at the moment we are not concerned’.

Mr Malthouse said: ‘The key thing we can do is prepare the Government services for what may be a surge in demand – not least the health service and elsewhere – but also critically communicate that the first line of defence is actually individual behavioural change.

‘People need to take care, do all the stuff they would do when it is very hot – wear a hat, drink water – but critically also (with) the most vulnerable groups – the elderly, those with cardiovascular problems and the very young – that people look out for them and take care.’

And he warned: ‘The current forecast is that we will be in the mid to high-30s but there is a smaller possibility that we could exceed that and possibly hit 40C which would be an all-time record.’

Experts describe extreme heat as a ‘silent killer’, with more than 2,500 heat-related deaths recorded in England in the summer of 2020.

Unions have urged firms to allow staff to work from home or leave the office early to avoid overheating, with some firms already telling staff not to come to work on Monday.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, urged people to check on older relatives, friends and neighbours to see if they needed anything during the high heat.

‘Any older person who is already coping with significant health issues, especially if they impact their heart or their lungs, is going to find the coming heatwave a challenge,’ she warned.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union, said the weather would make it ‘potentially dangerous’ for school children to take part in physical activity in the sun – although most will already have held their summer sports days.

Wales’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer told BBC Radio Wales that ‘people will need to change some of their plans’, with official advice warning against vigorous activities at school.

Already organisers of tomorrow’s, Rabbit Run through sand dunes at Merthyr Mawr, near Bridgend, have been advised to reduce their normal pace.

Owners have also been asked to take extra care of animals at the Royal Welsh Show next week.

Met Office forecaster Aidan McGivern said there would be a ‘notable decline’ in temperatures from midweek, with the ‘most likely scenario’ seeing a ‘vortex’ of moisture-laden air swirling up from the Bay of Biscay, bringing with it thundery showers.

And climate change lecturer John Grant told the Mirror: ‘I think hundreds are going to die in the UK if not ­thousands, that’s my fear if we hit temperatures of 40C (104F).

YESTERDAY - People sit on Bournemouth beach in Dorset yesterday as they make the most of the very hot weather in England

YESTERDAY – People sit on Bournemouth beach in Dorset yesterday as they make the most of the very hot weather in England

YESTERDAY - A woman sunbathes on Bournemouth beach yesterday as the very hot conditions continue for the country

YESTERDAY – A woman sunbathes on Bournemouth beach yesterday as the very hot conditions continue for the country

YESTERDAY - Stormy skies and a rainbow are seen at Marsden Bay near South Shields in Tyne and Wear yesterday evening

YESTERDAY – Stormy skies and a rainbow are seen at Marsden Bay near South Shields in Tyne and Wear yesterday evening

Parents at Marlbrook, Little Dewchurch and St Martin's primary schools in Hereford were told PE lessons will be scrapped and pupils will not be allowed outside to play. A letter added: 'We are also giving parents the option to keep children at home'

Parents at Marlbrook, Little Dewchurch and St Martin’s primary schools in Hereford were told PE lessons will be scrapped and pupils will not be allowed outside to play. A letter added: ‘We are also giving parents the option to keep children at home’

‘It’s terrifying what will happen if we don’t have a management plan and get cooling centres ready.’

Exercise early in the morning, have a glass of water with every alcoholic drink and give your dog a damp towel to lie on… your guide to surviving the heatwave 

BY EMILY CRAIG FOR MAILONLINE 

How can hot weather be deadly?

Heatwaves kill up to 2,000 people in the UK each summer.

Hot weather can cause dehydration, which causes blood vessels to narrow and the blood to thicken. This can lead to blood clots and strokes. And overheating can make symptoms worse for those with heart and breathing problems – which can become fatal.

There is also a higher risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, especially if exercising outdoors when it’s hot. 

Studies have also found accidents and injuries, such as from car crashes, are higher worldwide during hot spells. Experts believe this is because heat can interfere with thinking, making mistakes more likely.

What are the best ways to stay safe? 

People should avoid the sun between 11am and 3pm – when it’s at its hottest and UV light is strongest – to stay cool and avoid sunburn.

Walking in the shade and wearing a wide-brimmed hat can also reduce the risk of overheating.  Taking a bottle of water and putting on sun cream when venturing outdoors will also protect against the sun’s effect. 

Those at home can keep temperatures lower by closing the curtains in rooms that face the sun. But they may want to venture outside if they find its hotter indoors.

Drinking plenty of fluids is essential to stay hydrated and cool in a heatwave.  But people are advised to avoid alcohol, which raises body temperature, making it more likely a person will sweat and become dehydrated. This is on top of the dehydration alcohol triggers by making drinkers urinate more.

People should steer clear of sitting in a closed, parked vehicle, which can quickly overheat. And others, especially babies, children and animals, should not be left in a vehicle. 

Britons are also warned against exercising in the hottest part of the day. Early in the morning is the coolest time of day for outdoor activity.  While dipping into open water may seem tempting, people are warned to take care and follow local safety advice.

Who is the most at risk?

A heatwave can be risky for anyone, especially if they don’t stay cool and hydrated. But older people, especially the over-75s, those living on their own or in care homes and those with long-term illnesses, such as heart or lunch conditions, are among the most at risk.

The heat wave also poses a greater problem for those who struggle to stay cool – including babies, young children, the bed bound and those with Alzheimer’s. 

People who spend a lot of time outside or in hot places – such as those in the top floor of a flat, the homeless and those who work outside – are more likely to suffer health complications.

How do you protect children from the sun?

Children should be kept out of the sun between 11am and 3pm when the sun is strongest, according to the National Childbirth Trust.

Children’s skin is more sensitive than adults, so can burn and become damaged more quickly – raising the risk of skin cancer developing in later life, the British Skin Foundation warns.

Experts say babies under the age of six months should be kept out of direct sun for the first six months.

And parents are advised to ensure they are protected by an SPF 50 sun cream that is reapplied every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating. 

Parents can dress youngsters in loose cotton clothes, such as oversized T-shirts with sleeves as well as wide-brimmed hats that shade their face and neck. The back of the neck and shoulders are the most likely areas to get burnt when children are playing, so clothing that doesn’t have gaps for the sun to get through are best.

Youngsters should also wear sunglasses to protect their eyes. 

While shade is best in the hot weather, covering a pram with a muslin or blanket can trap heat and cause children to overheat. Experts recommend using a parasol or sunshade designed for a buggy.

Dehydration is a risk for babies and children, who should drink more when the weather is hot. Breastfed babies will need more breastmilk, while formula-fed babies can be offered cold water.  Cars can get very hot in the sun, so babies and children should not be left. 

Can it ever be too hot for schools to be open?

There is no temperature threshold for closing schools or workplaces. But some schools have taken measures into their own hands.

Earlier this week, Les Quennevais School in Jersey sent home pupils because it was unable to open windows and does not have air conditioning. The secondary school also told students they can wear their PE kit for the remainder of term. 

The Hereford Academy posted on Facebook that classes will start and end earlier to avoid the hottest part of the day. And St Thomas More Catholic School in Willenhall, West Midlands took to the social media site to tell pupils and parents sports day was postponed to avoid hot temperatures at the start of next week. 

Schools do not have specific temperature guidance. Its covered in workplace advice published by the Government’s Health and Safety Executive. It states: ‘In offices or similar environments, the temperature in workplaces must be reasonable. There’s no law for maximum working temperature, or when it’s too hot to work.’

But it warns that employers must ‘stick to health and safety at work law’, which includes ‘keeping the temperature at a comfortable level’ and ‘providing clean and fresh air’.

And what about keeping pets safe?

Animals should have access to shade in hot weather and have a constant supply of fresh water to help them stay cool.

Owners can also put ice cubes in their pet’s water bowl to provide and extra cooling boost and give them damp towels to lie on.  Pet-safe sun cream can also be used to cover exposed parts of an animal’s skin. 

Animals should never be left in cars, conservatories, outbuildings or caravans in hot weather, even if it’s only for a short amount of time. The temperature in these environments can quickly become double the level of outdoors. 

Today will begin with outbreaks of showery rain moving south-east across northern and central areas of the UK.

Meanwhile, people in the South and South West can expect warm sunshine.

London is forecast to experience 26C (79F) today, while 23C (73F) is predicted for Cardiff, 20C (68F) in Belfast and 19C (66F) in Edinburgh.

Saturday is also set to start with overcast skies and scattered showers in northern areas, before turning dry across the nation as the extreme heat moves in.

Despite the recent heat, June 17 still stands as the hottest day of 2022 so far when 32.7C (90.9F) was recorded in London. 

But this high will almost certainly be broken over the coming days.

Also today, vets warned owners of rabbits and other small animals such as guinea pigs to take extra care to protect them from heatstroke and even death.

Dr Samantha Butler-Davies, veterinary clinical services manager at Vets4Pets, said: ‘The warmer weather can be incredibly dangerous for our furry friends including rabbits and other small animals such as guinea pigs.

‘Simply put, the hot weather poses a genuine risk of death for rabbits. The temperature of their homes can increase rapidly in warm weather and a hot garden with no shelter can soon turn into a death trap if your rabbits don’t have access to cool areas.’

Vets also warned Britons to protect rabbits from ‘flystrike’ – when flies lay eggs in rabbit fur which then hatch into maggots that burrow into the skin, which can cause irreparable damage, severe illness and death.

They said live maggots are the most obvious signs of flystrike, but owners should also look out for rabbits becoming quiet or tired, a loss of appetite or not drinking, and a strong smell coming from them or their living space.

And Katie Haywood, a honeybee farmer on Anglesey in North Wales, told BBC Radio 4’s The World At One today: ‘At the moment we’re pulling beehives off roofs that we’ve removed from chimneys just in case they melt in the heat. All the team are running around like headless chickens putting water drinkers into all of our apiaries because our bees really need water.

‘We’ve actually cancelled all works next week, delaying us by a week and costing the company about £8,000. To be honest I’m worried sick because heat like this in the wrong condition the wax melts, and we’re desperately trying everything to make sure that doesn’t happen to ours.

‘We’re used to wind, we’re used to storms, there’s nothing that a ratchet strap and moving a few beehives won’t resolve, but you can’t really protect them from the heat. We’re just trying everything we can really – all we can do is hope for the best.’

Drivers with older cars have been warned to consider alternative methods of travelling during the extreme temperatures.

Edmund King, the organisation’s president, told the Daily Telegraph: ‘People who’ve got an older car, maybe the air conditioning doesn’t work, maybe it hasn’t been serviced for a while – the likelihood of it overheating is higher.

‘The risks are things like melting roads, getting stuck in traffic and then having problems, but you can drive in these temperatures – but your car has got to be in good shape.

‘I would say as a general rule of thumb cars over 10 years old might be the ones with problems. Most cars within the last ten years will probably have air conditioning, will probably be relatively reliable, as long as they’ve been looked after.’

He also encouraged people to leave early in the morning or later in the evening, particularly if travelling with children.

Meanwhile Gatwick Airport yesterday ran out of water as families flew out as the south east experiences one of the hottest heatwaves in years.

A burst water main nearby disrupted the supply from SES Water, leaving only a limited number of toilets working at Britain’s second busiest airport.

Gatwick apologised to passengers and said it was distributing bottled water.

Raquel Rodrigues, 49, from Worthing and flying to Spain, said: ‘We had a flight cancelled already and now there are no toilets.

‘There are only two working in the whole terminal and you can imagine what the queues are like.’

A Gatwick spokesman said: ‘An issue with the supply of SES Water to Gatwick and the surrounding area this morning has led to lower water pressure than normal across the airport. 

‘We are working closely with SES Water to ensure this issue is resolved as quickly as possible.

‘Bottled water is being made available to passengers and staff across the airport and other contingency measures are being put in place to ensure the welfare of our passengers.’

A spokesman for SES Water said: ‘We have identified a burst water main in Shipley Bridge, Crawley, and are working hard to resolve this.’

Meanwhile Toolstation revealed that sales of fans have risen by 641 per cent over the last week compared to the week before as tradesmen and women struggle to stay cool.

The company also said sales of builders’ shorts have increased by 50 per cent and T-shirts by 35 per cent. 

Sales of smart tech that controls temperatures has increased by 95 per cent and water cans by 21 per cent.

Meanwhile sales of ride on mowers are up by 11 per cent and hose reels have increased by 56 per cent.

Experts have warned of the need to adapt homes, cities and infrastructure in the UK for a future of more intense and deadly summer heat. 

Professor Emily Shuckburgh, from the University of Cambridge, said: ‘Extreme heat is a silent killer with more than 2,500 heat-related deaths recorded in England in summer 2020, with the elderly especially vulnerable. 

‘Climate change is meaning life-threatening heatwaves are becoming more intense and more frequent.’

She said the ‘descent into a dangerous future’ could only be halted by a rapid transition to net zero, and said solutions such as providing more green space in cities could both cut climate emissions and limit the impacts of extreme temperatures.

Mike Childs, head of science, policy and research at Friends of the Earth, said: ‘Each year the effects of climate breakdown are becoming more evident and more severe.

‘Without meaningful Government intervention millions of Brits, particularly older people and young children, will be at increasing risk from health-threating heatwaves like the one we’re experiencing.’

Meanwhile, motorists have been advised to try to make their journeys outside of the hottest periods of the day, particularly if they have older cars.

Sean Sidley, AA patrol of the year, said: ‘There are reports of road gritters being out this weekend to reduce the chances of our roads melting.

‘If it does get sticky on the roads there’s nothing worse than being stuck in a jam with the mercury rising, so make sure you carry plenty of water – at least a litre per person – and sufficient fuel, or if you’re driving an electric vehicle (EV) – make sure you have plenty of charge so you can use the air-conditioning when needed.’

Tim Doran, from the RNLI Water Safety Team said the service was anticipating a ‘busy weekend’ for its lifeboat crews and lifeguards.

‘If you are planning on going to the beach, we would encourage you to visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags,’ he said.

Vets warn pet owners ahead of Britain’s hottest day ever as reindeer struggles in the heat, French bulldog almost dies of heatstroke and squirrels are taken to animal rescue centre suffering from dehydration 

By Mark Tovey for MailOnline

Vets are warning animal lovers to take precautions as the UK faces its hottest day on record, with the extreme temperatures already taking their toll on a variety of critters around the nation.

Baby squirrels in Jersey fell victim to the heat wave, with five of the tree-dwelling rodents needing medical treatment at an animal shelter on the Channel Island after being driven out of their nest by the unrelenting sun.

A reindeer in Enfield was spotted sprawled out in the overwhelming heat, reportedly with no shade or water for several days.  

Beekeepers in Anglesey, North Wales, said they are ‘running around like headless chickens’ trying to prepare their hives for 37C forecast heat on Monday.

Katie Haywood, a honeybee farmer, told BBC Radio 4: ‘At the moment we’re pulling beehives off roofs that we’ve removed from chimneys just in case they melt in the heat.

Vets are warning pet owners to take special care of their animals as Britain braces for its hottest day on record, with squirrels, a reindeer and snakes already struggling. Pictured: A reindeer was spotted sprawled out with no shade in Enfield

Vets are warning pet owners to take special care of their animals as Britain braces for its hottest day on record, with squirrels, a reindeer and snakes already struggling. Pictured: A reindeer was spotted sprawled out with no shade in Enfield

Vets are warning pet owners and animal lovers to take care of critters of all species as the Met Office issues a 'Red' extreme weather warning

Vets are warning pet owners and animal lovers to take care of critters of all species as the Met Office issues a ‘Red’ extreme weather warning

Five baby squirrels on the Channel Island of Jersey had to be given veterinary care after being driven out of their nests by the unrelenting sun

Five baby squirrels on the Channel Island of Jersey had to be given veterinary care after being driven out of their nests by the unrelenting sun

‘All the team are running around like headless chickens putting water drinkers into all of our apiaries because our bees really need water.’

And snakes could start springing from their vivariums due to the hot weather, the RSPCA warned, with data from last year showing most escapes were reported to the charity during the summer.

In Stoke-on-Trent last week, a 3.5ft-long corn snake was found on the run, hiding in a wheelie bin, with a surprised resident saying they ‘jumped and screamed’ after lifting the lid and being faced with the fork-tongued escapee.

Meanwhile, the Met Office’s ‘Red’ extreme heat warning has led to five horse races next week – in Beverley, Windsor, Chelmsford City, Southwell and Wolverhampton – being abandoned.       

It comes as a French bulldog in south west London almost died, despite being in the shade, when its body temperature hit 41C.

The three-year-old dog, named Trojan, was rushed to Blue Cross vets in Victoria after he started fitting – despite his owner having left him in a relatively cool spot with plenty of water.

The sweltering pooch was placed on an ice-cold mat and given a saline drip to bring his temperature down. 

Vets are now urging pet owners to keep pets inside over the next few days as the record-breaking heatwave is set to last until Tuesday.

Laura Vico, Blue Cross Senior Veterinary Surgeon said: ‘It was touch and go for Trojan, we desperately needed to cool him down as quickly and as safely as possible.

‘He was panting heavily and shaking uncontrollably so we had to really act fast.

‘Trojan was put on an IV drip of saline, placed on a cold mat, had cooling spray to his ears and paws and given oxygen through a mask.

‘He was also given medication to control the seizures.

‘Over the next few hours his temperature began to drop, but he remained under the care of the vet team at Blue Cross animal hospital in Victoria overnight for monitoring.

‘By the morning Trojan was much brighter and walking about so he was well enough to go home, as long as he was kept cool indoors and allowed plenty of rest.’

Relieved owner Marcus said: ‘Despite just sitting in the shade and with plenty of water I was shocked that Trojan overheated to such dangerous levels.

‘He seemed content and was drinking the water but after a while I noticed he was acting strangely so took him home.

‘At home he got worse, he lay down and started shaking so I called Blue Cross for help.

The RSPCA warned snakes are more likely to make a break for it when the weather warms up, after a shocked resident of Stoke-on-Trent came face to face with a fork-tongued viper in their wheelie bin earlier this month

The RSPCA warned snakes are more likely to make a break for it when the weather warms up, after a shocked resident of Stoke-on-Trent came face to face with a fork-tongued viper in their wheelie bin earlier this month

‘I want to warn dog owners of the dangers in this hot weather, especially for flat faced dogs like Trojan.’

Signs of heatstroke include dogs panting excessively, dribbling or collapsing with a seizure.

The animal charity is also warning owners to keep pets away from open windows and balconies after a spate of accidents.

Seven-month-old puppy Bonnie suffered a smashed thigh after plunging 20ft from a first floor balcony when she chased a squirrel.

 

Why IS it going to be so hot? An ‘Azores High’ pressure system that is unusually far north, mixed with desert air blown up from the Sahara and heatwave-intensifying climate change will see Britons bake in 106F heat next week

  • UK may endure its hottest day ever next week with the country set to bake in 106F (41C) heat
  • Experts from the Met Office have revealed why Britain is in the midst of such a sweltering heatwave
  • They say it is partly down to winds blowing hot air up from north Africa and the Sahara
  • However, it is also due to climate change and the ‘Azores High’ system creeping farther north

By Sam Tonkin For MailOnline 

Britons are set to bake in 106F (41C) heat next week — but just why is the country in the midst of such a sweltering heatwave?

Experts say it is due to a number of factors, including winds blowing hot air up from north Africa and the Sahara, the ‘Azores High’ subtropical pressure system creeping farther north, and the ongoing impacts of climate change.

It could culminate in the UK’s hottest day in history on Monday, with the country put on a ‘national emergency’ footing amid fears even healthy people could die.

Part of the problem is that a pressure system called the Azores High, which usually sits off Spain, has grown larger and is being pushed northwards.

This has brought scorching temperatures to the UK, France and the Iberian peninsula.

The high pressure near the southern half of Britain, which has been responsible for this week’s warm weather, is also continuing to dominate overhead.

When this develops it triggers heatwaves, which can also bring so-called ‘tropical nights’ — when night-time temperatures fail to drop below 68F (20C).

These heatwaves are becoming more likely and more intense because of climate change. 

Meanwhile, winds are expected to turn southerly from today, bringing hot air up from north Africa and the Sahara and allowing the UK to tap into some of the 113F (45C) heat from Spain and France.

Professor Hannah Cloke, natural hazards researcher at the University of Reading, said: ‘We have had heatwaves in the UK before, but the intensity of heat that has been forecast, which will either break UK records or at least get very close, is enough to kill people and animals, damage property, and hobble the economy.’

Why is it so hot? Experts say it is due to a number of factors, including winds blowing hot air up from north Africa and the Sahara, the 'Azores High' subtropical pressure system creeping farther north, and the ongoing impacts of climate change. Sunbathers are pictured on Bournemouth beach in Dorset this morning as they enjoy the continuing hot weather

Why is it so hot? Experts say it is due to a number of factors, including winds blowing hot air up from north Africa and the Sahara, the ‘Azores High’ subtropical pressure system creeping farther north, and the ongoing impacts of climate change. Sunbathers are pictured on Bournemouth beach in Dorset this morning as they enjoy the continuing hot weather

Next week: The Met Office has issued this forecast map to accompany the extreme heat warning next Monday and Tuesday

Next week: The Met Office has issued this forecast map to accompany the extreme heat warning next Monday and Tuesday

The Azores High usually sits to the south but is currently directly over the UK and Ireland, stretching from the Azores Islands

The Azores High usually sits to the south but is currently directly over the UK and Ireland, stretching from the Azores Islands 

WHAT ARE THE MAIN AIR MASSES SWIRLING ABOVE BRITAIN?

There are five main air masses above Britain, along with a sixth one that is a variation of one of them.

The UK is more likely to get maritime air masses because our weather primarily comes from the west. The reason for this is because of the direction the Earth spins, leading us to experience prevailing westerly winds.

Although Britain does get air masses arriving from the east, too, they’re not as common, forecasters say. 

Polar Maritime

Arriving from Greenland and the Arctic Sea, it brings wet and cold air that leads to chilly and showery weather. 

Arctic Maritime

As its name suggests, this air mass comes from the Arctic. It brings with it wet and cold air that causes snowfall in the winter.

Polar Continental

When the Beast from the East struck Britain in 2018, the bone-chilling air was Polar Continental and came from Siberia. It brings hot air in the summer and cold in the winter, leading to dry summers and snowy winters.

Tropical Continental

Everybody’s favourite summer air mass, the Tropical Continental is what gives us heatwaves and bags of sunshine. The air is hot and dry and comes from North Africa. 

Tropical Maritime

Arriving from the Atlantic Ocean, this warm and moist air brings cloud, rain and mild temperatures to the UK. 

Returning Polar Maritime

The returning Polar Maritime is a variation of the Polar Maritime. 

However, it takes the air first southwards over the north Atlantic, then north-eastwards across the UK.

During its passage south, the air becomes unstable and moist but on moving north-east it passes over cooler water, making it more stable.

It brings largely dry weather and cloud. 

This Tropical Continental air mass is one of five that battle for supremacy over Britain and is what gives us heatwaves and bags of sunshine.

Dr Mark McCarthy, head of the Met Office National Climate Information Centre, said: ‘The highest temperatures experienced in the UK tend to occur when our weather is influenced by air masses from continental Europe or North Africa — as it will be at the weekend.

‘There is already a strongly-embedded warming due to climate change across the continent, that is increasing the likelihood of challenging the existing UK temperature record.’

The ‘Azores High’, which is undergoing ‘unprecedented’ changes, is also a big contributor to the current hot weather in Britain. 

A new study suggests the atmospheric high-pressure system is being driven by climate change and already causing droughts in parts of Portugal and Spain. 

The Azores High rotates clockwise over parts of the North Atlantic and has a major effect on weather and long-term climate trends in western Europe.

Researchers say this system ‘has changed dramatically in the past century and that these changes in North Atlantic climate are unprecedented within the past millennium’. 

Using climate model simulations over the last 1,200 years, experts from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution found that the Azores High started to grow to cover a greater area around 200 years ago, as human greenhouse gas pollution began to increase.

It expanded even more dramatically in the 20th century, in step with global warming.

Now the high pressure system, which is usually above the Atlantic and about 1,000 miles from mainland Portugal, has grown larger and pushed farther north, bringing high temperatures to the UK.

‘We anticipate that the area of high pressure over the Azores will increasingly extend towards the southwest of the UK,’ Daniel Rudman, of the Met Office, has said. 

‘This will lead to a good deal of warmer and mostly dry weather, especially across the south, although it may also bring cloud and rain into the northwest at times.’

Meanwhile, long July days and short nights also mean that strong sunshine builds up high temperatures. 

Britain has been slowly getting hotter since the 19th Century, with the 10 hottest years since 1884 all having occurred since 2002. 

In the past three decades alone, the UK has become 1.62F (0.9C) warmer. 

‘We hoped we wouldn’t get to this situation but for the first time ever we are forecasting greater than 40C in the UK,’ said Met Office scientist Dr Nikos Christidis.

‘In a recent study we found that the likelihood of extremely hot days in the UK has been increasing and will continue to do so during the course of the century, with the most extreme temperatures expected to be observed in the southeast of England.

‘Climate change has already influenced the likelihood of temperature extremes in the UK.’ 

As the Azores High has expanded, winters in the western Mediterranean have become drier. This graph shows the number of winters with extremely large Azores Highs in a 100 year window

As the Azores High has expanded, winters in the western Mediterranean have become drier. This graph shows the number of winters with extremely large Azores Highs in a 100 year window

The UK had its ninth hottest summer on record last year and the hottest since 2018, with an average temperature of 15.28°C (59.5°F). The graphic above shows which areas of Britain had higher than average summer temperatures compared to the average from 1981-2010

The UK had its ninth hottest summer on record last year and the hottest since 2018, with an average temperature of 15.28°C (59.5°F). The graphic above shows which areas of Britain had higher than average summer temperatures compared to the average from 1981-2010

Which weather will we get? There are five main air masses that battle it out above Britain. They include the Polar Maritime, Arctic Maritime, Polar Continental, Tropical Continental and Tropical Maritime. A sixth air mass, known as the returning Polar Maritime, also affects the UK

Which weather will we get? There are five main air masses that battle it out above Britain. They include the Polar Maritime, Arctic Maritime, Polar Continental, Tropical Continental and Tropical Maritime. A sixth air mass, known as the returning Polar Maritime, also affects the UK

He added: ‘The chances of seeing 40C days in the UK could be as much as 10 times more likely in the current climate than under a natural climate unaffected by human influence.

‘The likelihood of exceeding 40C anywhere in the UK in a given year has also been rapidly increasing, and, even with current pledges on emissions reductions, such extremes could be taking place every 15 years in the climate of 2100.’

Extreme heat events do occur in natural climate variation due to changes in global weather patterns, the Met Office said.

But it added that the increase in the frequency, duration, and intensity of these events over recent decades is clearly linked to the observed warming of the planet and can be attributed to human activity.

The chances of seeing 106F (40C) days in the UK could be as much as 10 times more likely in the current climate than under a natural climate unaffected by human influence, experts say.  

Professor Cloke described the red warning for extreme heat as a ‘wake-up call’ about the climate emergency.  

‘Even as a climate scientist who studies this stuff, this is scary. This feels real. At the start of the week I was worried about my goldfish getting too hot. Now I’m worried about the survival of my family and my neighbours,’ she said.

Why IS the British weather so changeable? UK is ‘unique’ because FIVE air masses battle for supremacy above it, bringing an extraordinary mix of atmospheric conditions that lead to sun one minute and rain the next

Warm and sunny one minute, rain the next, sometimes the British weather can be so wildly changeable it’s difficult to keep up. 

But just why is it so variable and prone to change from day to day? Or even, much to the frustration of those who have forgotten a coat, hour by hour?

And has climate change affected it? 

MailOnline spoke to several meteorologists about what makes the UK’s weather so ‘unique’, as one put it, and whether any other country in the world compares. 

At the heart of it are five main air masses that each have similar temperature and moisture properties. They battle for supremacy above Britain and can spark an extraordinary mix of atmospheric conditions when they clash. 

‘The UK doesn’t have its own weather,’ said Met Office forecaster Aidan McGivern, ‘it borrows it from elsewhere.’

‘That is what the air masses are — large bodies of air that come from other places.’ 

This graphic shows the amount of rain areas of Britain had this summer as a percentage of the average from 1981-2010

Southern areas also had less sunshine this summer, while northern parts including Scotland had more

These graphics show the amount of rain and duration of sunshine areas of Britain had last summer as a percentage of the average from 1981-2010. Northern, central and western parts of the UK had less rainfall compared to the average, while some of the south had more. Southern areas also had less sunshine, while northern parts including Scotland had more

WHAT IS THE JET STREAM AND HOW DOES THAT AFFECT BRITAIN’S WEATHER? 

The jet stream is a fast moving strip of air high up in the atmosphere that’s responsible for steering weather systems towards the UK from the Atlantic.  

It has a warm side to the south and a cold side to the north and can have a major impact on what kind of weather we experience.

In a typical British summer, when temperatures are warmer and drier, the jet stream is to the north of the UK, where it pulls up hot air across the country.

However, in the winter it sits further south and brings wet and windier weather because low pressure areas come closer to the UK.

The jet stream, which sits at about 30,000ft, can also change shape, going from flat to amplified, and it’s the latter that can lead to huge thunderstorms developing very quickly.

Professor Liz Bentley, CEO of the Royal Meteorological Society, said: ‘When two air masses are next to each other that is when we get dramatic weather conditions.

‘Air masses are dependent on wind direction; if coming from the continent they are continental, from the north they are polar, from the ocean it’s maritime and from the south they’re tropical.’  

They include the Polar Maritime, Arctic Maritime, Polar Continental, Tropical Continental and Tropical Maritime. A sixth air mass, known as the returning Polar Maritime, is also seen above Britain and is a variation of the Polar Maritime.

Each air mass brings a different type of weather, but as they meet and battle it out, it’s the one that wins which dictates if we get warm sunshine, freezing rain or a spectacular thunderstorm.

‘We mainly get the maritime air, either Tropical Maritime, Polar Maritime or returning Polar Maritime, because of how the Earth spins, leading to prevailing westerly winds for the UK,’ Mr McGivern said.

Professor Bentley added: ‘Although all the air masses have a role to play, the prevailing wind direction for us is westerly so we tend to see more coming from the Atlantic.

‘The time of year doesn’t affect which air mass wins, but when one does, it depends what season we’re in as to what weather we get.

‘In the winter, air from the continent is very cold. That’s why we had the Beast from the East in 2018 — because freezing air was coming from Siberia.

‘However, in the summer, when the Tropical Continental air mass is more common, the air is warm because it’s coming from a very hot continent, so you’re likely to get heatwaves.’  

Although it might not always seem it, heatwaves in Britain are actually becoming much more common.

‘We are seeing climate change in the UK,’ said Professor Bentley. ‘There has been an increase in temperatures — the average monthly temperature has increased by 1°C (1.8°F) in the last 30 years. 

‘Temperature records are being broken more regularly and we’re also more likely to see heatwaves that last longer and are more intense.’

So is the British weather only going to get more unpredictable?

‘It’s becoming more volatile, more intense,’ said Professor Bentley. ‘It’s a much more volatile situation than three or four decades ago.

‘Sometimes we even get two or three seasons in one day. 

The graphic above shows how the jet stream works and where it's located between seasons

The graphic above shows how the jet stream works and where it’s located between seasons

‘We’ve also seen increases in rainfall, particularly intense rainfall that can lead to flash floods, which is another effect of climate change in the UK.

‘And the Met Office has said in a report that we are likely to see 40°C (104°F) recorded in the UK within the next decade.’

Some of the cold and dreary weather can often be brought by the Polar Maritime, but it is not just about the air masses — the jet stream at 30,000ft also plays its part. 

This is a fast moving strip of air high up in the atmosphere that’s responsible for steering weather systems towards the UK from the Atlantic.

It has a warm side to the south and a cold side to the north. In a typical British summer, when temperatures are warmer and drier, the jet stream is to the north of the UK, where it pulls up hot air across the country.

However, in the winter it sits further south and brings wet and windier weather because low pressure areas come closer to the UK.

The jet stream can also change shape, going from flat to amplified, and it’s the latter that can lead to huge thunderstorms developing very quickly.

Think it’s hot now? How Britain roasted in TEN-WEEK heatwave during summer of ’76: Temperatures hit 36C, criminal trials came to a halt, towns were plagued by swarms of insects and water was rationed as country faced worst drought in 250 years (but it wasn’t as hot as the 41C expected next week) 

  • In the summer of 1976, there were 15 consecutive days that saw temperatures of 89.6F (32C) in the UK
  • Overall, there were ten weeks of blazing heat that saw widespread drought and mass standpipe use 
  • The murder trial of the notorious ‘Black Panther’ had to be paused after woman in public gallery collapsed
  • The heat also caused ladybird invasion with numbers so high they were often unavoidably crushed underfoot 

By Harry Howard, History Correspondent for MailOnline

Wildfires have raged, speed restrictions have been imposed on some railway lines and hospitals have already declared ‘critical incidents’.

The hot weather in Britain this summer is set to peak next week, when the mercury could top 39C (102F) in London.

The current non-stop sunshine has evoked memories of the summer of 1976, when there were 15 consecutive days that saw temperatures of 89.6F (32C) somewhere in the UK. 

Overall, there were ten weeks of blazing heat that saw widespread drought, mass standpipe use, and even the pausing of the murder trial of the notorious ‘Black Panther’, after a woman suffering from ‘heat exhaustion’ collapsed.

During a First Division football match between Manchester City and Aston Villa, City player collectively lost four stone in weight, prompting the team’s captain to call for an end to ‘summer soccer’.

At that year’s Wimbledon tennis championships, umpires were allowed to remove their jackets for the first time in living memory, whilst major roads were littered with broken-down cars that had overheated. 

The extreme weather also caused an increase in the number of 999 callouts to domestic disturbances, as tempers buckled due to the heat. 

The current non-stop sunshine has evoked memories of the summer of 1976, when there were 15 consecutive days that saw temperatures of 89.6F (32C) somewhere in the UK. Above: Bikini-clad women are seen enjoying the hot weather in 1976

The current non-stop sunshine has evoked memories of the summer of 1976, when there were 15 consecutive days that saw temperatures of 89.6F (32C) somewhere in the UK. Above: Bikini-clad women are seen enjoying the hot weather in 1976

Overall, there were ten weeks of blazing heat that saw widespread drought and mass standpipe use. Above: Residents collect water from a standpipe in Northam, Devon

Overall, there were ten weeks of blazing heat that saw widespread drought and mass standpipe use. Above: Residents collect water from a standpipe in Northam, Devon

A public information notice warning about the drought, erected by the road in the Bridport area of Dorset. The drought was worsened by the fact that there had been a lack of rainfall the previous summer

A public information notice warning about the drought, erected by the road in the Bridport area of Dorset. The drought was worsened by the fact that there had been a lack of rainfall the previous summer

The summer of 1976 was caused in part by very hot air that had originated in the Mediterranean. The warm weather and lack of rain began on June 23 and did not abate for more than a month. 

The highest temperature recorded in the summer was on July 3, when the mercury hit 96.6F (35.9C) in Cheltenham. The average maximum daily temperature was 67.8F (19.9C). 

Photographs from the period show the impact that the heat had. 

In one, residents were seen queuing with buckets to get water from stand pipes in Devon.

In another a model was photographed sunning herself on the dried-up basin of Pitsford reservoir.

Another showed some of the thousands of people who flocked to Brighton beach in East Sussex to sunbathe. 

Like with this year’s heat, the weather caused wildfires around the country, including in Epping Forest in Essex and Bellerby Moor in North Yorkshire. 

Back then, knowledge about the dangers posed by the sun’s rays to people’s skin was not as extensive as it is now. It meant Britons took fewer precautions to protect themselves. 

The Daily Mail's coverage of the extreme heat in 1976 mentioned how cars were overheating and there was little sign of an abating of temperatures

The Daily Mail’s coverage of the extreme heat in 1976 mentioned how cars were overheating and there was little sign of an abating of temperatures

At the Wimbledon championships, where Bjorn Borg would go on to win the first of his five titles and a young Sue Barker made it to the quarter-finals, 400 people were treated for ‘exposure to the sun’ in a single day. 

The conditions were what prompted officials to relax the strict dress code for umpires for the first time since the tournament began nearly 100 years earlier. 

The trial of kidnapper Donald Nielson, who was nicknamed the Black Panther and was accused of murdering a 17-year-old woman, had to be suspended at Oxford Crown Court when a woman in the public gallery fainted

The trial of kidnapper Donald Nielson, who was nicknamed the Black Panther and was accused of murdering a 17-year-old woman, had to be suspended at Oxford Crown Court when a woman in the public gallery fainted

In the House of Commons, bar staff walked out in protest when officials refused to allow a similar relaxation in costume rules that would have allowed them to remove their traditional green jackets. 

Above them, the Big Ben clock on what is now named the Elizabeth Tower suffered what was its only major breakdown due to metal fatigue caused by the heat. It took three weeks for the clock to be fixed.

Elsewhere, dozens of people desperately dived into the water of Trafalgar Square’s fountains in an attempt to cool off.  

As well as the weight loss seen in the football match between Manchester City and Aston Villa, the Metropolitan Police dealt with 600 more daily calls to domestic disturbances than normal.

As the drought worsened, a strict hosepipe ban was imposed in most places and residents were encouraged to alert the authorities if their neighbours used any water unnecessarily. 

Showers instead of baths were encouraged, with the latter only allowed if there was no more than 5inches of water in the tub.  

The drought was worsened by the fact that there had been a lack of rainfall the previous summer, meaning reservoirs and rivers were already low. 

The lack of water prompted fires to break out. As well as blazes in Essex and Yorkshire, 300 residents in an old people’s home in the New Forest had to be evacuated when a wild fire took hold nearby.

Farmers struggled too as thousands of acres of crops failed, prompting concerns that there would be huge increases in the price of food. 

Street traders in London’s Hyde Park were slammed for charging the grossly inflated price of 40p for a bottle of Coca-Cola, even though they were costing 22p in the Dorchester Hotel across the road. 

A model is photographed sunning herself on the dried-up basin of Pitsford reservoir in Northamptonshire during the 1976 heatwave

A model is photographed sunning herself on the dried-up basin of Pitsford reservoir in Northamptonshire during the 1976 heatwave

In similar scenes, sunseekers stripped down to their swimwear in 1976 to make the most of the blazing heat

In similar scenes, sunseekers stripped down to their swimwear in 1976 to make the most of the blazing heat

Firefighters putting out a forest fire in Epping Forest, near London, on July 6, 1976. Britain’s worst drought for 250 years led to frequent outbreaks of fire around the country

At the Wimbledon championships, where Bjorn Borg (above) would go on to win the first of his five titles and a young Sue Barker made it to the quarter-finals, 400 people were treated for 'exposure to the sun' in a single day

At the Wimbledon championships, where Bjorn Borg (above) would go on to win the first of his five titles and a young Sue Barker made it to the quarter-finals, 400 people were treated for ‘exposure to the sun’ in a single day

Employees back in 1976 took their work outdoors and swapped the office desk for a fountain in a bid to avoid overheating

Employees back in 1976 took their work outdoors and swapped the office desk for a fountain in a bid to avoid overheating

The searingly hot weather, from mid-June to the end of August was more prolonged than any within living memory

The searingly hot weather, from mid-June to the end of August was more prolonged than any within living memory

Sunbathers packed Brighton beach in East Sussex in 1976 as they desperately tried to cool off in scorching temperatures which lasted for weeks

Sunbathers packed Brighton beach in East Sussex in 1976 as they desperately tried to cool off in scorching temperatures which lasted for weeks

Children are seen playing in the Trafalgar Square fountain to try to cool down during the 1976 heatwave

Children are seen playing in the Trafalgar Square fountain to try to cool down during the 1976 heatwave

Two young women are seen cooling off with the help of an outdoor shower as temperatures soared during the ten-week heatwave

Two young women are seen cooling off with the help of an outdoor shower as temperatures soared during the ten-week heatwave

C Pillbeam, of the Metropolitan Water Board, turns down the water pressure at a turncock outside St Paul's Cathedral, London on August 18, 1976. The mains water pressure was reduced by a quarter to conserve water supplies

C Pillbeam, of the Metropolitan Water Board, turns down the water pressure at a turncock outside St Paul’s Cathedral, London on August 18, 1976. The mains water pressure was reduced by a quarter to conserve water supplies

The weather also caused problems for couples, prompting a newspaper to give them advice on how to keep cool in the bedroom.

The drought became so severe that the then Labour government, led by James Callaghan, considered getting water by tanker from Norway. 

Legislation – the Drought Act of 1976 – was passed in rapid time to both impose a nationwide hosepipe ban and to grant the government emergency powers that allowed them to reduce or turn off water supplies to industry. 

The then sports minister, Dennis Howell, was made the new minister for drought.  

In Wales, the mains water supply was switched off for up to 17 hours a day. 

Each standpipe – an outdoor tap installed on streets – that people had to use was shared between 20 homes. 

By late August, there were only 90 days’ of water supply left in London. In Leeds, the figure was 80. 

It prompted t-shirt manufacturers to start selling clothes bearing the slogan: ‘Save Water – Bath With A Friend’. 

Thanks to the dry reservoirs and sections of rivers, fish died in their thousands, whilst birds died of botulism – a disease caused by stagnant, de-oxygenated water. 

The heat also caused an invasion of ladybirds, with their numbers so high that they were often unavoidably crushed underfoot.  

The heat on stricken trains on the London Underground became so severe that people took to smashing train windows.  

The trial of kidnapper Donald Nielson, who was nicknamed the Black Panther and was accused of murdering a 17-year-old woman, had to be suspended at Oxford Crown Court when a woman in the public gallery feinted. 

However, a week after Mr Howell’s appointment in late August as minister for drought, the rain finally arrived and the hottest and driest days of Britain’s most famous summer were finally at an end.  It had been the worst drought in England in 250 years. 

The hot weather of the past few weeks has prompted many Britons to draw on their memories of the summer of 1976. 

On Twitter, one wrote: ‘I’m a survivor of the summer of 1976. What a time to be alive. It was amazing. I was 15 and the No government as I remember instructed me in how to behave.’ 

Another said: ‘I have no idea how so many of us got through summer of 1976, unscathed. We didn’t have social media to try to frighten the life out of us.’

A third wrote: ‘A few hot days in July and they’re trying to pretend this weather is somehow unusual. Anyone else remember the summer of 1976, when we had comparable temperatures to now, except it went on for more than two months rather than the usual week or two? This is *not* an emergency!’ 

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