Britain swells on its hottest day ever when temperatures reach 40 degrees

Britain swells on its hottest day ever when temperatures reach 40 degrees

  • The temperature reaches a record 40C across the country
  • Train services canceled due to the heat
  • Heatwave calls focus on promises of climate change

LONDON, July 19 (Reuters) – Britain recorded its hottest day ever on Tuesday, with temperatures above 40C (104F) as a heat wave that gripped Europe intensified, forcing train tracks to tense up and set fire to a number of fires across London .

Met Office said a new preliminary record temperature of 40.3 C (104.5 F) was recorded in Coningsby, in central England, with 34 locations across the country experiencing temperatures in excess of the previous highest temperature of 38.7 C (101.7 F) registered in 2019.

Stephen Belcher at the Met Office said he had not expected to see such temperatures in the UK in his career.

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“Research conducted here at the Met Office has shown that it is virtually impossible for the UK to experience 40C in an undisturbed climate, but climate change driven by greenhouse gases has made these extreme temperatures possible,” he said.

Train services on major routes from London up the east and west coasts of the country were canceled, power companies reported mass disruptions and normally busy city centers seemed quiet. Network Rail tweeted a series of photos showing large turns and cracks in the rail.

The London Fire Brigade declared a major incident and urged people to stop grilling, as hundreds of firefighters battled fires across the capital.

To the east, a large fire engulfed homes in the village of Wennington, with flames raging over about 40 acres of nearby peak-dry fields. Elsewhere, large grasslands around the capital caught fire and billowed smoke over main roads and nearby areas.

London’s ambulance service said they had had 400 calls per hour due to the extreme heat.

“We are seeing an increase in the number of patients experiencing heat exposure, difficulty breathing, dizziness and fainting,” said Peter Rhodes, assistant director of ambulance operations.

The UK, which may struggle to maintain important transport services in extreme heat or snow, had been put in a national state of emergency due to the unprecedented temperatures.

“My thanks go to all the firefighters and frontline services who work incredibly hard to keep us safe on this burning day,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Twitter.


Transport Minister Grant Shapps said there had been a significant amount of travel disruption.

“Infrastructure, much of which was built from Victorian times, was simply not built to withstand this type of temperature,” he said.

Operator Network Rail advised passengers to travel only if absolutely necessary.

“Extreme heat: All services stopped. Didn’t get to the station,” Avanti West Coast, which runs services from London to cities such as Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow, said on Twitter.

Climate scientists said the once unimaginable temperature in London is likely to become more common in the years to come.

Sony Kapoor, a climate and macroeconomics professor at the European University Institute, said he had long believed that people underestimated the physical consequences of modern-day climate change. “But even I never thought we would see 40 degrees Celsius in London in 2022,” he said.

The arrival of a burning heat wave that first triggered forest fires across Europe before arriving in the UK has turned the spotlight on “net zero” promises given by the candidates running to replace Boris Johnson as prime minister.

After Johnson championed the transition to net zero status when Britain hosted the UN COP26 climate summit in 2021, some of the candidates to replace him have seemed more lukewarm and considered other challenges the country faces as its priority.

After Tuesday’s heat, the Met Office said that the temperature would fall on Wednesday, but it warned that there could be heavy thunderstorms.

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Additional reporting by Gloria Dickie; Written by Kate Holton, William James and Michael Holden; Edited by Angus MacSwan, Catherine Evans, Raissa Kasolowsky and Jonathan Oatis

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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