Britain broke its record for the highest temperature ever recorded Tuesday during a heat wave that has burned parts of Europe. The country’s chief weather forecaster said such highs are now a fact of life in a nation unprepared for such extremes.
The ordinarily temperate country was the latest to be hit by extremely hot, dry weather, which has sparked wildfires from Portugal to the Balkans and resulted in hundreds of heat-related deaths. Images of flames rushing toward a French beach and Brits sweating — even by the water have heightened public concern about climate change.
The Met Office in the United Kingdom recorded a tentative temperature of 40.3 degrees Celsius (104.5 degrees Fahrenheit) at Coningsby in eastern England, breaking the previous record set just hours ago. Before Tuesday, the highest temperature recorded in the United Kingdom was 38.7 C (101.7 F), attained in 2019. By late afternoon, 29 locations in the United Kingdom had broken the record.
As the nation watched in horror and excitement, Met Office chief scientist Stephen Belcher declared that such temperatures in the UK were “virtually impossible” without human-caused climate change. He warned that without substantial action to reduce carbon emissions, “we could see temperatures like this every three years.”
The scorching heat has all impacted transport, health services, and education. The lack of air conditioning in many British houses, small businesses, and even government institutions, such as hospitals, emphasises how scorching it is in a place known for rain and moderate weather.
Authorities say that since Monday, the extreme heat had bent a significant motorway in eastern England, turning it into a “skatepark,” and damaged the runway at London’s Luton airport, forcing it to close for several hours. On Tuesday, major train stations were closed or almost empty because of cancelled or slow-moving trains due to worries of rail falling.
The first “red” heat warning for England was still in effect for a sizable chunk of the country on Tuesday, extending from London in the south to Manchester and Leeds in the north and warning that even fit people run the risk of passing away.
Climate scientists warn that extreme weather occurrences have increased due to global warming. According to research, the risk that temperatures in the United Kingdom would hit 40 C (104 F) is now ten times higher than it was in the pre-industrial period.