UK records hottest day of the year with high temperatures forecast for Friday

Britain is expected to be hotter than parts of Jamaica and the Maldives

People relax in the sun of the bank the River Thames, with the The City of London financial district in the distance, in London, Britain, June 16, 2022. Reuters
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The hottest day of the year in the UK was recorded on Thursday as the country basked in temperatures of more than 29°C.

Thursday's highest temperature of 29.5°C was recorded at Northolt in West London, passing the year's high of 28.2°C recorded at Kew Gardens on Wednesday.

London and some spots in East Anglia are expected to reach a sweltering 34°C on Friday, the Met Office said.

Away from the capital and the south-east, most of England and Wales is expected to hit between 27°C and 30°C — hotter than parts of Jamaica and the Maldives.

But experts, some of whom attribute the heat to climate change, have warned people of the dangers with the hot weather.

“The health implications of rising temperatures in the UK are serious," said Dr Radhika Khosla, of the University of Oxford.

“Important physiological changes occur in response to high temperatures, including changes in our circulatory, nervous and respiratory systems.

“When these adaptive measures are not enough, the risk of cardiopulmonary and cardiovascular problems increases among older adults, young children, people with chronic conditions, athletes and outdoor workers.

“Severe heat disrupts sleep, impairs cognitive performance and is associated with increased risk of suicide or hospital admission for mental illness.”

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The UK Health Security Agency and the Met Office have issued a Level 3 heat-health alert for London, and the east and south-east of England.

It follows the Level 2 alert issued on Tuesday and confirms that the Met Office’s threshold temperatures for an alert will be reached in three regions from Friday.

A Level 2 alert remains in place for the East Midlands and the south-west.

“Heatwaves are one of the most deadly natural hazards," said Dr Vikki Thompson, climate scientist at the University of Bristol Cabot Institute for the Environment, in the UK.

"Three thousand deaths were linked to heatwaves in 2021.

“The health issues related to heat include direct effects, such as heatstroke and cardiovascular failure, and indirect effects, including poorer mental health and an increase in accidents such as car crashes and drownings.”

Dr Mark McCarthy, head of the Met Office National Climate Information Centre, said: “Reaching 34°C during June is a rare, but not unprecedented event in the historical climate records for the UK.

“But if it should happen this week it would be notable that it would have occurred on three days during the last six Junes.”

Two men sleep at the base of Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square during hot weather in London on Thursday. AP

“Despite the official warnings, some people still underestimate the effects of heat and don’t change their plans to take it into account," said Prof Hannah Cloke, of the University of Reading.

“We need to consider how people react to the current warnings and continue to improve them. A warning system that people ignore is next to useless.

“Thousands of people already die due to excess heat in the UK, and climate change will only make heatwaves more frequent and more extreme in the future.

"Let’s not wait for people to die before we take heatwaves seriously.”

Britain’s highest recorded June UK temperature was 35.6°C at Southampton Mayflower Park in June 1976, and forecasters do not expect that to be passed this week.

Updated: June 17, 2022, 5:55 AM