Monday, 2 Oct 2023

Brace for hottest day ever with temperatures smashing records and going over 40C

Britain is expected to swelter today as the mercury is set to exceed 40°C for the first time on record.

It comes as the nation is gripped by travel chaos, with airports suspending flights yesterday as the blistering sun led to runways ‘melting’.

Forecasters are urging people to stay in the shade during the hottest hours of today – 11am to 4pm – and to drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Meanwhile travellers are being advised to avoid any non-essential journeys, as plenty of delays, cancellations, last-minute changes and road closures are expected.

Yesterday temperatures peaked at 38.1°C in Santon Downham, Suffolk, making it the hottest day of the year and the third hottest day on record.

It didn’t quite beat the records of 38.7°C in Cambridge in 2019 and 38.5°C in Faversham, Kent, in August 2003.

But the record is expected to be broken today, with possible highs of 41°C in some places, making the country hotter than Jamaica, the Maldives and Barbados.

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Met Office forecaster Rachel Ayers said: ‘The temperature will be very hot throughout the day, before rising as high as 40°C, maybe even 41°C in isolated spots across England during the afternoon.

‘This will make it the hottest day on record and the first time we have seen temperatures as high as 40°C.’

If you had trouble sleeping last night, you won’t be alone, as last night was expected to be the warmest on record.

Temperatures were hovering around the low 20s in some places, and this cumulative effect has been adding to the heatwave currently sweeping Europe.

Most routes across England and Wales will be affected by the hot weather today, according to National Rail, with customers told only to travel if ‘absolutely necessary’.

Network Rail said: ‘There will be delays, cancellations and last-minute changes to train services due to the unprecedented record heat on those days.’

Ms Ayers added: ‘There are likely to be delays on roads, with road closures, as well as possible delays and cancellations to trains and maybe issues with air travel.

‘This could pose a significant health risk to those stuck on services or roads during the heat.’

There will be no Thameslink or Great Northern trains running in any location north of London, from London Blackfriars via St Pancras, or from London King’s Cross or London Moorgate on Tuesday.

Merseyrail said the number of trains running and journey times will be ‘seriously affected’, with some routes closed completely.

LNER will run no trains from south of York and south of Leeds to London King’s Cross.

Southern, South Eastern, South Western Railway and Great Western Railway are among the dozens of train companies running significantly reduced services across the country.

Transport for London (TfL) said London’s rail network would also be running a reduced service on Tuesday due to safety restrictions put into place to deal with the heat.

Elsewhere, council gritters were on stand-by to spread light dustings of sand on melting roads.

The RAC anticipated that the number of vehicle breakdowns on Monday and Tuesday could be up to a fifth higher than normal.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has a high pollution alert in place in the eastern parts of England and the East Midlands, meaning EU ozone pollution thresholds have been exceeded.

Emergency services and the Government have reiterated urgent warnings about the dangers of trying to keep cool after several tragedies in waterways and reservoirs during the heatwave.

It comes as a missing 14-year-old boy is believed to have drowned yesterday afternoon after getting into difficulty in the Thames in Richmond, southwest London.

The teenager was seen entering the water at Tagg’s Island in Hampton and was presumed dead after a search was carried out.

The family of 13-year-old Robert Hattersley said they were ‘absolutely devastated’ after he died swimming in the River Tyne in Northumberland on Sunday.

Emergency services also confirmed the deaths of a 16-year-old boy in Salford Quays, Greater Manchester, a 16-year-old boy in Bray Lake near Maidenhead, Berkshire, and a 50-year-old man in a reservoir near Leeds in similar circumstances.

There have been warnings of pressures on hospitals from the extreme temperatures, and concerns ambulance services would face rising numbers of calls as the heat peaks on Tuesday afternoon.

The UK Health Security Agency has issued a level 4 heat-health alert – described as an ’emergency’.

It is also the first time parts of the UK are under a red extreme heat warning issued by the Met Office.

Britons have been urged to stay inside during the hottest period of the day, between 11am and 4pm, and wear sun cream, a hat, stay in the shade and keep hydrated with water.

People have also been asked to avoid using barbecues or leaving litter that could spark fires in the countryside.

Zoos and wildlife parks were closed to protect animals, staff and visitors, while water companies have urged people to ‘carefully consider’ their usage after experiencing ‘unprecedented peak demand’.

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