UK heatwave: Hottest day on record likely with highs of up to 42C

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    A high of 38.1C was reached in Suffolk on Monday, just short of the UK record of 38.7C set in 2019. Wales recorded its hottest day on record with 37.1C.

    The Met Office has issued a red extreme heat warning covering much of central, northern, and south-east England.

    At least four people are believed to have drowned after attempting to escape the heat in rivers and lakes.

    Network Rail has issued a “do not travel” warning for Tuesday affecting services travelling through the “red zone” of the Met Office’s weather warning.

    The extreme warning, indicating a threat to life, is in place in an area stretching between London, Manchester and York.

    Peterborough, Caernarfon and Swindon are among the areas projected to reach 32C by 10:00 BST, according to the Met Office forecast.

    By 16:00, Lincoln, Cambridge and Huntingdon could see 40C – areas in the A1/M1 corridor may surpass this.

    No Thameslink or Great Northern services are scheduled to run north from London all day and there will be no services from London King’s Cross or on the East Coast mainline.

    There will also be only limited services from London Euston, London Marylebone and on the East Midlands Railway.

    The East Midlands Railway is only running very limited services between Derby, Nottingham, Luton, Bedford and London, which will stop altogether during the hottest part of the day, from lunch time to 19:00.

    Rail services on Monday evening were heavily impacted by the extreme heat, Network Rail said, with buckled rails reported and overhead wire systems failing. A new record rail temperature of 62C was recorded in Suffolk.

    Jake Kelly, the group director for system operation at Network Rail, said it took “the difficult and regrettable” decision to close the East Coast Mainline and the Midland Mainline due to record temperatures.

    Mr Kelly told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We don’t take decisions like this lightly. Our engineers work very hard assessing the capability of the infrastructure facing that record heat, and we decided that we had no choice but to close it.”

    There have also been warnings of pressure on hospitals and ambulance services as temperatures are set to peak on Tuesday afternoon.

    Following the government’s latest emergency Cobra meeting, Health Secretary Steve Barclay said more call handlers had been put in place and additional funding made available for ambulance and 111 services.

    London Ambulance Service said it fielded 6,600 calls on Monday related to the heatwave, experiencing a peak of 300 calls at 23:00.

    Brian Jordan, Director of 999 Operations at London Ambulance Service, said he was “very pleased” that the number of callers fell short of the 8,000 expected.

    “Yesterday was still a busy and long day, and I cannot emphasise enough that people need to follow the same advice as Monday and avoid exposure to the sun,” he told the Today programme.

    “Early indications show a slight increase in fainting due to heat exposure. We could see this rise in even higher temperatures today.”

    He added that the service has “been working really closely” with hospitals to ensure waits are not longer than normal.

    Monday saw a number of schools close despite government advice against doing so, although one teaching union said the majority of schools had remained open.

    Water companies in southern and eastern England have warned increased demand is leading to low pressure – and even interrupted supply – for some households.

    Heatwaves are becoming more likely and more extreme because of human-induced climate change.

    The world has already warmed by about 1.1C since the industrial era began, and temperatures will keep rising unless governments around the world make steep cuts to emissions.

    Meanwhile, farmers warned the UK is not equipped to deal with water shortages caused by the changing climate.

    Minette Batters, the president of the National Farmers’ Union, said the unprecedented temperatures are “really highlighting issues with water security.”

    “It’s not a full-blown drought yet, but we really need to be focusing on what needs to be done before it gets worse,” she said.

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