UK temperature record under threat as heatwave continues

There are growing expectations that the next two days will see the UK break its record for the hottest temperature ever record.

As the weekend saw temperatures rise, weather experts have warned there is more to come with the UK’s highest ever temperature of 38.7°C  under real threat.

The Met Office forecast that parts of the country will see temperatures likely in excess of 35°C in some places.

The UK government has issued an Amber Extreme heat warning, which is an impact-based warning designed to highlight impacts to protect lives, property and infrastructure, for today and tomorrow.

“Temperatures are likely to peak in excess of 35°C in southern, central and eastern areas of England, and more widely around 32°C within the warning area,” it stated. “Tuesday currently looks to see the peak of this heat.

The record high temperature in the UK is 38.7°C, which was reached at Cambridge Botanic Garden on 25 July 2019.

The Met Office’s Tony Wardle said there are those who believe that figure will be broken by the end of tomorrow.

“Weather forecast models are run numerous times to help us quantify the likelihood of a particular event occurring and estimate the uncertainty which is always present in weather forecasting to some degree,” he explained. “For late this weekend and especially early this week, some runs of these models allow exceptionally high temperatures to develop, which is something we’ll keep monitoring closely and adding details in the coming days as confidence increases.

“Some models had been producing maximum temperatures in excess of 40°C in parts of the UK over the last weekend and beyond. These have highlighted the potential which exists in the developing weather situation, but it’s as yet uncertain if these values will materialise. Mid, to possibly locally high, 30s Celsius remains the most likely scenario.”

Dr Mark McCarthy head of the Met Office National Climate Information Centre added: “The highest temperatures experienced in the UK tend to occur when our weather is influenced by air masses from continental Europe or North Africa – as it was at the weekend – there is already a strongly-embedded warming due to climate change across the continent, that is increasing the likelihood of challenging the existing UK temperature record.”

Wardle said: “Maximum temperatures have been well above average almost everywhere in the UK last week, the exception perhaps being the Western and Northern Isles of Scotland. Following a return to nearer average, locally rather cool temperatures over the next few days, the hot weather looks likely to steadily ramp up once again this weekend, peaking early next week.

“Monday and Tuesday, peak maximum temperatures are likely be in excess of 35°C, especially across central, southern and eastern England, with a chance of some locations being even hotter. Elsewhere, maxima will generally range from high 20s to low 30s of Celsius. This, coupled with overnight minima not falling below 20°C in many locations, has considerable potential to cause widespread societal impacts, which is behind the issue of an Amber Extreme heat warning.”

Dr Agostinho Sousa, head of extreme events and health protection at UKHSA, said: “Heat-health alerts have now been issued to the majority of the country, with temperatures set to remain consistently high throughout the duration of this week.  “Most of us can enjoy the hot weather when it arrives, but it is important to keep yourself hydrated and to find shade where possible when UV rays are strongest, between 11am and 3pm.

“If you have vulnerable family, friends and neighbours, make sure they are aware of how they can keep themselves protected from the warm weather.’’

Peter Jenkins, director of campaigns, Water UK said: “Water companies are seeing substantial demand during this extremely hot weather. We can all help ensure there’s enough to go around by being mindful of the amount of water we use while ensuring we stay hydrated and safe.”

The record high temperature in the UK is 38.7°C, which was reached at Cambridge Botanic Garden on 25 July 2019.