Britain could have its hottest day on record today as Saharan air sweeps over the country, bringing the first official heatwave in a year and temperatures above 100F (38C) for the second time in a week.
The mercury is expected to hit at least 99F (37C) in London and the South East today, with a chance that last Friday’s 100F (37.8C) recorded at London Heathrow Airport – the UK’s third-hottest day ever – could be broken.
Temperatures could even climb above the all-time UK record of 101.7F (38.7C), which was set last July. But unlike last Friday, when cloud and drizzle followed, this time the heatwave is here to stay until at least Tuesday.
Further north and west, it is still due to reach 82F (28C) today, with fine weather expected into next week and continuing through the first half of August, albeit with a risk of downpours and thunderstorms.
With daily highs in the South poised to remain above 30C (86F) until Tuesday, forecasters say it is the first official heatwave – lasting at least three days – since July 2019, when the UK record temperature was set in Cambridge.
It comes as:
- The Met Office issued a level-three heat health alert warning Britons to look out for the elderly and vulnerable;
- There are fears tourists flocking to coasts will ignore social distancing rules and cram on to packed seafronts;
- Parts of southern England will be hotter than the Caribbean, with highs of 91F (33C) expected in Jamaica;
- Britain has never recorded two days with temperatures over 99F (37C) in the same year since records began;
- The RNLI has urged families heading to the beach today and this weekend to be aware of potential dangers.
Families head to the beach at Bournemouth in Dorset this morning at the start of a very hot day for southern England
A group of people play on the beach at Bournemouth in Dorset this morning as they get in before the crowds arrive
Families head down to Bournemouth beach while others go for a run along the Dorset coast this morning
A group set up an area to sit on Bournemouth beach in Dorset this morning as temperatures soar across southern England
Met Office meteorologist Grahame Madge said: ‘Whether we will see the hottest day of the year is on a knife edge. However, this will be a longer spell of warm weather compared with what we had last week.
‘Meteorologically, it will be a heatwave. There is a strong signal of a thundery breakdown at some stage next week but that’s not likely before early on Tuesday.’
Top temperatures since UK records began in 1659
- July 25, 2019 – 101.7F (38.7C) – Cambridge
- August 10, 2003 – 101.3F (38.5C) – Faversham, Kent
- July 31, 2020 – 100F (37.8C) – London Heathrow
- August 3, 1990 – 98.8F (37.1C) – Cheltenham
- July 1, 2015 – 98.1F (36.7C) – London Heathrow
Mr Madge said that while the warmest weather is expected in the South East today and tomorrow, the hottest areas over the latter half of the weekend could be Hampshire, Dorset and Somerset.
Temperatures are expected to fall back towards the mid-70Fs (mid-20Cs) in the North and Wales.
The very hot conditions, which have been caused by Atlantic air warming up over France before being drawn north, have led to health warnings.
Britain has never recorded two days with temperatures over 99F (37C) in the same year since records began.
Parts of the South of England are even expected to be hotter than the Caribbean, with highs of 91F (33C) in Jamaica and 84F (29C) Barbados.
The Met Office has also issued a level-three heat health alert which warns Britons to look out for the elderly, vulnerable and young children.
There are also fears tourists flocking to coastal hotspots will ignore social distancing rules and cram on to packed seafronts in scenes similar to last weekend – risking further spread of coronavirus.
The Met Office warned people in South East England to close curtains on rooms facing the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler, drink plenty of fluids, avoid excess alcohol, dress appropriately and ‘slow down when it is hot’.
Temperatures are expected to hit 97F (36C) to 100F (38C) in the South East today, with minimum highs of 72F (22C) tonight
Two women go jogging on a bright sunny morning through Wimbledon Common in South West London today
Three people exercise in the shade on a sunny morning at Wimbledon Common in South West London today
It comes as the staycation boom continues, with Britons flocking to seasides across the UK and Halfords reporting a sales surge in camping equipment since lockdown was lifted on July 4 – with gas stoves up 300 per cent, cool boxes up 180 per cent, airbeds up 130 per cent, roofboxes up 165 per cent and camping chairs up 120 per cent.
Plea to beachgoers as Britain braces for another rush to the coast
The RNLI has urged families heading to the beach this week to be aware of potential dangers as the UK braces itself for a potential heatwave.
Last Friday, on the hottest day of the year so far, The Coastguard reported its busiest day for more than four years as it dealt with more than 300 incidents.
Ahead of this week’s sunny spell, Gareth Morrison, RNLI head of water safety, said: ‘Our coastline is a fantastic place to spend time together as a family, especially when the sun is out and it’s hot.
‘But there are also plenty of potential dangers, especially for those who aren’t fully aware of their surroundings and may be visiting a particular beach for the first time.
‘We are advising everyone planning a visit to a beach or the coast to follow (the) beach safety advice.’
The mercury hit 86.2F (30.1C) at Wisley in Surrey yesterday – the UK high for the day – before London has temperatures of 100F (38C) today, 93F (34C) tomorrow and 90F (32C) on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
But the RNLI has warned of ‘plenty of potential dangers’ amid an expected rush to the beaches during the UK’s staycation surge which has been boosted by foreign holidays being in doubt due to coronavirus restrictions.
The heat is from southerly winds moving from Europe and parts of northern Africa and is expected to stay around well into next week, although it may then be replaced by thunderstorms by next Wednesday.
The heatwave threshold is three days over 82F (28C) in London and 77F (25C) in most other parts of the UK.
Today will peak in the 90-100Fs (high-30Cs) around East Anglia, Kent and London, while up to 84F (29C) is expected in Manchester and Liverpool. The heat could generate showers but these will be light and fleeting.
A Met Office spokesman said: ‘It is the result of southerly winds moving from Europe and parts of northern Africa, which will push the temperatures up.
‘It’s pretty unusual to get two successive events like this within a week of each other with such high temperatures.’
However, there was concern about the impact of the warm spell on vulnerable groups.
A level three heat health alert came into force from yesterday covering all of Southern England, London and East Anglia, valid until Tuesday.
The alert, issued by the Met Office in conjunction with Public Health England, advises precautions for elderly people, young children and babies and those with underlying health conditions.
The sun rises over Birmingham this morning on another scorching hot day for parts of Britain
Paddle boarders go out at sunrise this morning off Cullercoats Bay in North Tyneside today
It states: ‘Close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors.
Britons are warned to avoid visiting any venues breaking lockdown rules
People have been warned to avoid any venues breaking lockdown rules ahead of a weekend that will see temperatures soar in Britain.
After additional lockdown laws were introduced in Manchester among other northern locations on Wednesday, Sacha Lord, night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, chastised venues that had reportedly broken the rules.
‘Over the past week, I have heard of numerous pubs, bars and restaurants who have been squeezing customers in, flouting social distancing rules, ignoring contact tracing and actively persuading mixed groups not to cancel bookings,’ he said.
‘These venues clearly have a disregard for the safety of both their customers and their staff, and I support our Mayor Andy Burnham and Greater Manchester Police in taking action over repeat breaches in these venues.
‘It’s also crucial that the general public takes responsibility too. We must work together to show venues that we will not stand for those who break the rules. If you feel uncomfortable, or that an establishment does not have the right procedures in place, then I urge you to take your booking elsewhere.’
Mr Lord’s words of warning come after an outbreak at a bar in Aberdeen was confirmed to have led to dozens of positive tests.
New lockdown measures came into force at 5pm on Wednesday, forcing all pubs, bars and restaurants in the Aberdeen City Council area to again close their doors.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council meanwhile sent teams to visit three pubs as well as a city centre venue on Monday after reports of overcrowding in bars, a lack of social distancing and packed queues.
‘Drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol, dress appropriately for the weather and slow down when it is hot.’
Public Health England also advised people to stay cool indoors by closing curtains that face the sun and ensuring pets or children are not kept in vehicles.
Ishani Kar-Purkayastha, consultant in public health at Public Health England, said: ‘This summer, many of us are spending more time at home due to Covid-19. A lot of homes can overheat, so it’s important we continue to check on older people and those with underlying health conditions, particularly if they’re living alone and may be socially isolated.’
Elderly people are among the most vulnerable to hot weather, with advice telling them to contact neighbours if they are living alone, to try to stay indoors during the afternoon and to carry a bottle of water when out.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: ‘We want older people to continue to enjoy the warm weather but, if it becomes uncomfortably hot, we advise some sensible precautions, particularly for anyone who has breathing problems or a heart condition.
‘It’s a good idea to remain indoors during the worst of the heat during the day. It’s also advised to wear thin, light clothing, drink plenty of fluids and to eat normally, but perhaps more cold food than usual, particularly salads and fruit which contain a lot of water and help us stay hydrated.
‘We know that extreme heat can aggravate lung and heart conditions so our advice is to take care and if you are breathless, even after you have rested, to seek medical advice.’
Motorists looking to travel to seaside locations have been urged to ensure cooling systems are filled to the correct level, to look at the coolant date and to not overload their vehicle with luggage.
Breakdown experts Green Flag has predicted just under 127,000 breakdowns to occur between Friday and Wednesday, which translates to 15 breakdowns every minute.
In its longer-range forecast, the Met Office predicts a ‘good deal of fine and dry weather’ across the UK until mid-August – albeit with a risk of heavy showers and thunderstorms.
For the end of August and beginning of September, fine and dry weather is likely to continue in the South, where there could be some further ‘very warm spells’.
In Wales and northern England, there are likely to be ‘periods of dry and settled weather interspersed with occasional bouts of wetter and windy weather’.
The Met Office has issued a level three heat health alert which warns Britons to look out for the elderly and young children
The heatwave comes after some areas of northern England and Wales had very wet weather earlier this week bringing flooding.
Fears for thousands of holidays on the continent as travel experts warn France ‘is highly likely’ to be added to the 14-day quarantine list following a dramatic rise in coronavirus infections
Thousands of holidays could be at risk as France is ‘highly likely’ to be added to the 14-day quarantine list following a dramatic rise in coronavirus infections, according to travel experts.
Tourists returning to the UK could soon be facing a 14 days in self-isolation amid speculation that France will be added to the Foreign Office’s quarantine list.
Tourists wearing masks visit Saint-Malo in France on Tuesday
The number of daily coronavirus cases in the country has soared in recent days, with 1,695 new infections being recorded just yesterday, as it battles a second wave of Covid-19.
It is thought that if the decision goes ahead holidaymakers may be forced to cancel their trips in order to avoid the two-week quarantine on their return.
Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: ‘Unless France takes further significant steps to reduce its case numbers, then it’s highly likely to be added later next week as the increase must be causing worries in Westminster.
‘There are several hundred thousand British tourists in France at the moment so the government must give plenty of warning if it does change its advice later next week.’
Meanwhile, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced yesterday evening that the Bahamas, Andorra and Belgium will be taken off the UK’s quarantine-exemption list.
On Tuesday, 54.5mm (2.15in) was recorded at Hazelrigg in Lancahire. It led to flooding in Lancaster on Wednesday, where 50 people had to be evacuated from their homes and firefighters had to pump water from roads and farmland.
In Pentre, a village in Rhondda, South Wales, homes were also flooded on Wednesday for the fourth time this year after heavy rain.
Local councils have made a plea for extra government funding to help improve safety at beaches to reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading among visitors.
The Local Government Association said the ‘rush to the sun’ following easing of lockdown restrictions in recent weeks has become a serious challenge for councils responsible for beach safety.
It wants extra funding for ‘beach patrols, additional toilets and prominent signage’.
Council bosses are also urging people to ‘think carefully before travelling to beaches and to get in the habit of checking they are open and safe to visit’.
Earlier in the summer, Government ministers warned beaches may have to close if crowds of visitors were unable to follow rules on social distancing.
Richard Kemp, vice chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: ‘People will understandably want to enjoy the sunshine.
‘However, when large numbers of people head to the coast and tourist spots there is inevitably a risk of overcrowding and an increase in the rate at which COVID-19 could be transmitted.
‘Lives depend on all of us taking personal responsibility for our actions to avoid a resurgence of this deadly virus that puts further lives at risk.’
It comes after a YouGov poll found 28 per cent of Britons plan to take a holiday in the UK this year – the equivalent of 19million people – while only 9 per cent will go abroad and a further 49 per cent do not intend on holidaying.
And the warm weather will concern local authorities in areas such as Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Sussex which can expect another huge influx of holidaymakers as people in the UK shun foreign trips to go on staycations.
Beleaguered Cornish residents reported over the weekend how the popular county had turned into ‘Benidorm on steroids’ as floods of visitors left them too scared to leave their homes.
Meanwhile Thanet District Council in Kent begged people to avoid four of the area’s beaches – including the popular Margate’s Main Sands – due to the number of visitors.
And a drunken fight broke out on the seafront in Brighton last Saturday night as two women went toe-to-toe and others cheered and ignored social distancing.
Over the weekend, street marshals were deployed in Cornwall as tourists poured down narrow streets and flouted social-distancing rules – despite clear warning signs in place.
Cornwall Council slammed the ‘ignorant’ visitors who descended on beauty spots without their face masks, as Britons elsewhere appeared to ignore social distancing rules while gathering at bars.