UK authorities declared an ‘extreme heat emergency’ for most of the UK on Monday (18/7), with temperatures expected to exceed 40 degrees Celsius. It is the first time a heat emergency has been implemented in UK history. The January 4 alert, issued by the Health Safety Agency (UKSHA) for Monday and Tuesday, was defined for the first time as a “national heat emergency”.
The British Meteorological Service’s weather office said Tuesday’s severe heat was “unprecedented”. “The temperature will be very hot throughout the day, before rising to 40°C, possibly even 41°C in remote parts of the UK in the afternoon,” said Rachel Ayers of the MET Office.
Much of the UK, from London in the south to Manchester and Leeds in the north, is under the country’s first ‘extreme’ heat warning, meaning there is a risk to health and even death for people at high risk.
Hot, dry weather has gripped southern Europe since last week, sparking bushfires in Spain, Portugal and France, before moving north.
Public transport disrupted
Record temperatures have also disrupted public transport, health services and schools. British authorities have deployed more ambulances and medical personnel for fear of the health impact. The MET Office warns that high temperatures pose serious risks, including serious illness and death, even in healthy people.
He also said there was a high risk of disruption to electricity, water and cell phone services. The national rail network asks customers to use its services only when absolutely necessary. Severe delays are expected on some transmission lines due to twisted railway tracks and power supply disruptions. Several public transport services, including the main route between the North East of England and London, were partially suspended on Tuesday (19/7).
The London Underground network has reduced service on Mondays and Tuesdays, urging passengers to travel only when absolutely necessary. Luton Airport, near London, had to suspend flight arrivals and departures after high temperatures caused flaws in the runway surface.
While some schools will be closed, others are preparing to build paddling pools and water jets to refresh school children. To avoid the emergence of an emergency in the health sector, some medical procedures have also been canceled.
Europe in the middle of a heat wave
The heat wave that swept through much of southwestern Europe sparked wildfires in Portugal, Spain, France and Germany.
The German weather service said temperatures would rise to 40°C and hit the western part of Germany the hardest. On Monday (18/7), around 115 firefighters had to be deployed following a forest fire in a popular tourist destination in eastern Germany, which spread rapidly over an area of 2,500 m2 .
In France, more than 16,000 people, including residents and tourists, have been evacuated due to wildfires destroying dry forests in the southwest. French authorities responded to the fires by setting up seven emergency shelters for refugees. They announced evacuation plans for more towns at risk of fires.
Spain has managed to contain the fires that have burned around 2,000 hectares of forest and land in Andalusia, regional authorities report. “The 3,000 residents who were evacuated from the southern coastal city of Malaga have been allowed to return to their homes,” regional chief Juan Manuel Moreno said.
Forest fires in Portugal have killed two people and injured around 60 others. Between 12,000 and 15,000 hectares of land burned, as the country was hit by record high temperatures of 47 degrees Celsius. Although heat levels have eased slightly, most regions remain wary of the possibility of continued wildfires.
The Italian meteorological office predicts temperatures above 40°C in some areas in the coming days. Switzerland was also affected by the heat wave. Operators of the Beznau nuclear power plant said they had to reduce production to avoid the plant overheating, as they depend on the Aare River for water cooling, as water temperatures also rise .
hp/as (rtr, afp, dpa, ap)
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