Britain was in for its hottest day on record on Monday, with temperatures forecast to reach 40C for the first time, forcing train companies to cancel services and heath officials to put more ambulances on standby.
Much of Europe is brewing in a heat wave that has pushed temperatures into the mid-40s in some regions, with wildfires raging in tinder-dry countryside in Portugal, Spain and France.
Britain’s government on Monday and Tuesday launched a “national emergency” alert at the Cambridge University Botanical Gardens forecast to exceed the 38.7C (102 Fahrenheit) recorded in 2019.
“We are going to have a tough time in the coming 48 hours,” Kit Malthhouse, the minister in charge of coordinating the government, told the BBC.
London’s Underground metro network imposed temporary speed restrictions on the network for Monday and Tuesday, meaning it will run fewer services with travel taking longer than usual. It urged passengers to travel only when necessary.
The national rail network also urged passengers to stay at home, and said some services – including an important route between northeastern England and London – would not run during parts of Tuesday.
Network Rail’s Jake Kelly said he expects normal operations to resume on Wednesday, when temperatures are forecast to drop, but will depend on “weather damage to infrastructure over the next few days”.
Some schools were scheduled to close earlier than usual on Monday.
The Health Protection Agency (UKHSA) raised the summer health warning for England to Level 4 for Monday and Tuesday.
The UK Meteorological Office defines a Level 4 alert as a national emergency, and is used when a heat wave is “so severe and/or prolonged that its effects extend beyond the health and social care system.” At this stage, illness and death can occur among fit and healthy people, not just in high-risk groups.”
The Met Office said “substantial” changes to working practices and daily routines would be needed and that there was a high risk of heat-sensitive systems and equipment failing, potentially causing local disruption of electricity, water or mobile phone services. damage may occur.
Malhouse said the government was prepared for bad weather and would like to learn from it.
He told BBC radio: “We definitely need to adapt to the way buildings are built, the way we work and look at some of our infrastructure, which seems to be an increasing frequency of such incidents.” It happens.”