Britain’s first-ever extreme heat warning is in effect for large parts of England as hot, dry weather that has scorched mainland Europe for the past week moves north.
The high heat is disrupting travel, health care and schools. London’s Kew Gardens hit 37.5 degrees Celsius (99.5 degrees Fahrenheit) on Monday, while Wales provisionally recorded its highest-ever temperature, recording 35.3 C (95.5 F) at Gogerddan on the west coast.
Britain's red heat alert will last through Tuesday, when temperatures may reach 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). That would exceed the highest temperature ever recorded in Britain, which is 38.7 C (101.7 F).
Train companies are urging customers not to travel unless absolutely necessary because the heat is likely to warp rails and disrupt power.
The red warning includes the London metro area.
“Nights are also likely to be exceptionally warm, especially in urban areas," said Met Office Chief Meteorologist Paul Gundersen. "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.”
Officials believe climate change could be playing a role in the heat.
“Climate change has already influenced the likelihood of temperature extremes in the UK," said Dr. Nikos Christidis, climate attribution scientist at the Met Office. "The chances of seeing 40°C 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 40°C 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.”