Britain On Course For Hottest Day On Record

LONDON – With temperatures expected to reach 40C for the first time on Monday, Britain was on track to experience its warmest day on record. Train companies were forced to suspend service, schools were forced to dismiss early, and governments urged people to stay inside.

In certain areas of Europe, the mid-40s Celsius mark has been reached, and flames are blazing over the tinder-dry countryside of Portugal, Spain, and France.

As temperatures were expected to rise on Monday and Tuesday past the 38.7C mark set in 2019 at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden, the British government declared a “national emergency.”

“We’ve got a difficult 48 hours coming,” Kit Malthouse, a minister in charge of government coordination, told BBC radio.

London’s metro network imposed temporary speed restrictions for Monday and Tuesday, meaning it would run a reduced service with journeys taking longer than normal. It urged commuters to only travel if essential.

The national rail network also urged passengers to stay at home and said some services – including a key route between northeastern England and London – would not run during parts of Tuesday.

Jake Kelly from Network Rail said he hoped normal operations would resume on Wednesday, when temperatures are forecast to fall, but that would depend on “the damage that the weather does to the infrastructure over the next couple of days”.

Britain on High Alert

The government urged schools to stay open but many were due to close earlier than usual, normal uniform demands were ditched and end-of-term sports days were cancelled. Some schools were shut, resorting to lockdown-style online lessons.

And at least one major zoo, at Chester, said it would close for two days, while London Zoo and Whipsnade Zoo said many animals would be able to retreat to “cool zones” and some exhibits might be closed.

Some factories also brought their opening hours forward, to prevent workers on the hottest jobs, such as welding, from falling ill.

The Health Security Agency (UKHSA) raised the heat health warning to Level 4 for England for Monday and Tuesday.

Britain’s Meteorological Office defines a Level 4 alert as a national emergency, to be used when a heatwave “is so severe and/or prolonged that its effects extend outside the health and social care system. At this level, illness and death may occur among the fit and healthy, and not just in high-risk groups”.

The Met Office said “substantial” changes in working practices and daily routines would be required, and there was a high risk of failure of heat-sensitive systems and equipment, potentially leading to localised loss of power, water or mobile phone services.

Malthouse said the government was prepared for the extreme weather and would seek to learn lessons from it.

“We definitely need to adapt the way we build buildings, the way we operate and look at some of our infrastructure in the light of what seems to be an increasing frequency of these kinds of events,” he said. – Reuters

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