The UK has experienced one of its hottest ever days, putting pressure on transport and health services, with the Met Office warning of worse to come.
The mercury hit 38.1C in Santon Downham, Suffolk, making it the hottest day of the year and the third hottest day on record, after 38.7C in Cambridge in 2019 and 38.5C in Faversham, Kent, in August 2003.
The current UK temperature record looks almost certain to fall on Tuesday, when temperatures could reach a “crazy” 41C in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, and hit 40C in London.
Adjustments were made to the ancient tradition of Swan Upping – the annual census of the swan population along the River Thames – to help the cygnets in the extreme heat.
The Queen’s Swan Marker, David Barber, accompanied by his team of Swan Uppers, took to the water in traditional rowing skiffs at Sunbury Lock Cut in Middlesex on Monday as the five-day count and check got under way despite the heatwave.
Mr Barber told the PA news agency the baby swans were not taken ashore to be weighed and measured, and were checked in the boats instead and promptly returned to the river to keep them cool.
Northern Ireland has recorded its hottest day of the year. The Met Office said that by 5pm, a temperature of 30.9C had been recorded in Derrylin in Co Fermanagh and 30.6C in Armagh.
The highest temperature ever recorded in Northern Ireland was 31.3C (88.3F) in Castlederg in County Tyrone last July.
Rainforest plants housed in Kew Gardens could be scorched as temperatures soar close to 40C, one of its executives has said.
Richard Barley, director of gardens, said the Palm House was kept cooler than the outside temperature but “leaf scorch” was still a risk.
A British ice cream cone manufacturer has had to lay on extra deliveries to deal with demand, as the popularity of the frozen treat soars in the extremely high temperatures.
Antonelli, producer of the only waffle cones to be made in the UK as well as ice-cream ingredients and decorations, said smaller, independent ice cream parlours have been asking for last-minute deliveries as they struggle to cope with demand.
Flights have been disrupted at London Luton Airport due to a “surface defect” on the runway.
A statement from the airport said: “Following today’s high temperatures, a surface defect was identified on the runway.
“Engineers were called immediately to site and repair works are currently in progress to resume operations as soon as possible.
“We would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused.”
People are being warned not to exercise over the coming days, with scientists saying that everyone faces risks from extreme heat.
Dr Eunice Lo, climate scientist at the University of Bristol Cabot Institute for the Environment, said: “Everyone is at risk and we do need to be aware and take precautions and definitely not view these as normal summer days or something to go out and have fun in.”
Mike Tipton, professor of human and applied physiology at the University of Portsmouth, said a person can go from emitting as much heat as a 90-watt lightbulb when at rest, to emitting as much heat as a two-kilowatt fire when exercising.
He added: “We produce a lot of heat when we exercise. And we’re now at a temperature where … actually people will warm up just doing their day-to-day activities in the house, or outside, and cooking, that sort of thing.
“And so fitter people undoubtedly do better in the heat, but we still see fit people who suffer from heat exhaustion in particular. So the recommendation would be just for the next couple of days, when we’re now in unprecedented temperatures, is just to stop exercising.”
Video: London park scorches in heatwave
Northern Ireland has recorded its hottest day of the year, with temperatures soaring above 30C in some areas.
The Met Office said that by 4pm a temperature of 30.5C had been recorded in Armagh, and 30.4C in Derrylin in Co Fermanagh.
The highest temperature ever recorded in Northern Ireland was 31.3C (88.3F) in Castlederg in Co Tyrone last July.
The highest temperature on record in Wales has now risen to 37.1C in Hawarden, Flintshire, provisional Met Office figures show.
In Buckinghamshire, more than 50 schools have closed, while four schools announced closures across West Berkshire, and 17 full or partial closures were announced in Cambridgeshire.
More than 30 schools have closed across Oxfordshire, with many planning to remain closed until Wednesday, although some say they will wait to review the situation before deciding to close on Tuesday.
United Utilities, a water provider in the north-west of England, said it is “working flat out to feed (water) into the pipe network as fast as it is being used”.
It expects to supply around 230 million extra litres of water on Monday – which is normally enough to supply both Liverpool and Manchester combined.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said the emergency services are already starting to see an increased volume of calls.
Following a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee, he said: “We’re seeing an increase in calls and the extra resource we have put in place is to manage that.
“But there’s also a time lag in the data because the highest point of the expected heatwave is actually going to be tomorrow afternoon.
“So that’s the point of maximum concern, but we’re seeing an increase in calls. That’s why we put more call handlers in place. It’s why we put additional funding in – an extra £150 million for the ambulance service, a further £50 million for 111, and indeed other support such as £30 million for auxiliary ambulances. So extra resource has been put in place.
“The contingency plans, that are well established, have been activated. And we’re meeting regularly with NHS leaders, with ambulance chief executives, to closely monitor the impacts, and particularly the handover times, so we can mitigate those with the increased pressure they’re facing.”
By 3pm, the highest recorded temperature was 37.5C (99.5F) at Kew Gardens in west London, according to the Met Office.
Cavendish in Suffolk had reached 37.4C (99.3F), Santon Downham, also in Suffolk, was 37.2C (98.9F) and Wisley, Surrey, saw temperatures of 37.2C.
Wales has provisionally recorded its hottest day on record, according to the Met Office.
The temperature reached 35.3C in Gogerddan, near Aberystwyth, on the coast of mid-west Wales, on Monday.
It is thought to have broken the previous record of 35.2C in Hawarden, Flintshire, on August 2 1990.
The temperature needs to be verified before the record can be confirmed.
Hawarden experienced highs of 33C over the weekend, and BBC Wales’s senior meteorologist Derek Brockway predicted the mercury there could hit 36C or 37C, possibly breaking today’s record.
The extreme heatwave affecting all parts of the UK has prompted a rare amber weather warning to be issued by the Met Office across Wales.
Video: Red extreme heat warning in place as temperatures soar
Zoos across the UK have taken extra precautions to keep their animals cool amid the soaring temperatures, with some offering icy treats and others shutting their gates to the public.
Colchester Zoo in Essex offered its residents frozen bottles of water, ice enrichment, and sprinklers, while at Bristol Zoo, squirrel monkeys, kea parrots and red pandas were given ice lollies filled with vegetables, leaves or mealworms, while the seals tucked into frozen fish in ice blocks as they frolicked in their pool.
Animals at ZSL London Zoo were also given “healthy ice pops” made from “frozen sugar-free iced tea, filled with nuts and seeds”.
Chester Zoo said it will be closed on Monday and Tuesday, tweeting: “Due to the extreme heat forecast… we will be closed for the safety of our staff, visitors, animals and plants.”
Andrew Tucker, water demand reduction manager for Thames Water, said the heatwave has led to demand being “at near record level”.
He said while Thames Water is not currently considering any water restrictions, that could change if there is little rainfall in the coming months.
Water-saving tips include not letting the taps run when brushing your teeth or washing dishes, only using the dishwasher when full, swapping the garden hose for watering cans instead, letting the lawn go brown, reusing paddling pool water and not washing your car.
Council gritters are on standby 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.
Spokesman Rod Dennis said the increase in callouts will “put pressure on all breakdown services” as he advised drivers to carry an “emergency kit” such as water, non-perishable food, sun protection and any medication required.
Network Rail said the number of passengers using major stations across Britain on Monday was around 20% down on a week ago.
Train speed restrictions imposed to reduce the chances of tracks buckling in the heatwave caused delays and cancellations.
Many operators are running a heavily reduced timetable on Monday and Tuesday, including Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, Great Northern and Thameslink.
LNER will run no trains from south of York and south of Leeds to London King’s Cross on Tuesday.
MPs will not be required to wear jackets in the Commons chamber for the rest of the week due to soaring temperatures, the Speaker has said.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle said the chamber is kept at a “constantly comfortable temperature” but acknowledged MPs have to move around the parliamentary estate.
He said: “Therefore while the heat remains at this exceptional level and for the remainder of this week, I’m content for members not to wear jackets and ties in the chamber if they so choose.”
Edinburgh was the hottest place in Scotland on Monday morning, with a temperature of 27.3C recorded at Gogarburn and 25.7C at the Botanic gardens, the Met Office said.
In Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, the temperature was 27.2C, with Aviemore reaching 26.2C.
A 16-year-old boy has died after getting into difficulty in Bray Lake, near Maidenhead, Berkshire.
Thames Valley Police said officers were called at 11.45am on Monday and a body was located at just after 1.30pm, when the boy was pronounced deceased at the scene.
Wales has provisionally recorded its hottest day on record, with the temperature reaching 35.3C in Gogerddan, near Aberystwyth, the Met Office said.
📈 It's provisionally the hottest day on record in Wales
🌡️ Gogerddan has reached 35.3°C so far today, exceeding the previous record high of 35.2°C, recorded at Hawarden Bridge, Flintshire on 2nd August 1990 #Heatwave2022#heatwave pic.twitter.com/jDhqhOFSVJ
— Met Office (@metoffice) July 18, 2022
The extreme heat has resulted in “unprecedented peak demand” for water in recent days, Water UK said.
The industry body, which has members across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, said the “most intense demand” is across the south of England but that “pretty much all companies are seeing elevated demand at the moment”.
A Water UK spokesperson said: “Water companies are seeing unprecedented peak demand for water during this extreme hot weather event.
“We are urging everyone to carefully consider the amount of water they are using at this time.
“All water companies have been contacting their customers directly with information and advice to help them reduce their water usage.”
Transport for London (TfL) said around 1.06 million entries and exits were made by London Underground passengers on Monday up to 10am, down 18% compared with the same period last Monday.
Some 1.07 million bus journeys were made up to 10am, a 10% decrease week on week.
TfL said: “Ridership on Monday is typically lower than other days of the week on public transport and is therefore likely to be a good indication of where people are working from home.
“Typically, TfL also sees a small reduction in ridership at this time of year as schools enter their last week of term and people begin to go on holiday.
“However, the recent high temperatures have led to more of a reduction than would have been expected before our travel advice was issued to only make essential journeys during this extreme hot weather.”
Ambulance trusts across the country are braced for a rise in 999 calls as the heatwave leads to a surge in demand for NHS services.
Miriam Deakin, interim deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, said the entire health service is under pressure as temperatures rise, with some operating theatres getting too hot, leading to surgery being cancelled.
Brian Jordan, director of 999 operations at London Ambulance Service, urged people to only dial 999 in an emergency as he told the BBC a busy day would see 5,500 emergency calls to the service but he was anticipating up to 8,000 calls on Monday.
In the sporting arena, teams have made adjustments due to the heatwave.
In football, England have changed the timing of their training sessions ahead of their Euro 2022 quarter-final.
The start time for the Lionesses’ sessions on Monday and Tuesday at their tournament base in Teddington, south-west London, has been brought forward to 10.30am, around an hour earlier than originally scheduled.
The team are preparing to play against Spain in the quarter-finals at Brighton’s Amex Stadium on Wednesday evening.
🌡 Due to the extreme hot weather conditions forecast for day one of the Cheltenham Cricket Festival tomorrow, the end of play has been moved forward by 90 minutes to 4:30pm.
Please click below to find out the details in full ⤵#GoGlos 💛🖤
— Gloucestershire Cricket🏏 (@Gloscricket) July 18, 2022
In cricket, day one of Gloucestershire’s County Championship clash with Hampshire on Tuesday will finish early due to the soaring temperatures.
Gloucestershire said on Twitter the match will still start at 11am, but play will stop at 4.30pm “in line with advice from the ECB to alter the hours of play”.
Pet-safe sun cream, fresh water, damp towels and homemade cat-friendly ice lollies are among the tips for keeping your animals safe in the heat.
– Animals should never be left in cars, conservatories, outbuildings or caravans on a warm day, even for a short while, the RSPCA said.
If it is just 22C (71.6F) outside, temperatures can quickly rise to 47C (116.6F) in these environments.
– The RSPCA said you can use a pet-safe sun cream on exposed parts of your pet’s skin, make sure they have shade, ensure they have constant access to fresh water, put ice cubes in their water bowl and give them damp towels to lie on.
– Battersea Dogs & Cats Home advises against walking your dog in hot weather as dogs are less able to cope than humans in the heat.
It suggests a gentle walk very early or late in the evening, when the temperature has significantly reduced.
– You should look out for signs of heatstroke as dogs suffer with heatstroke when they overheat. Battersea Dogs & Cats Home said it is important to know how to avoid it and be aware of the signs as it requires urgent veterinary treatment.
Signs of heatstroke include heavy panting, lethargy, confusion or loss of co-ordination, drooling or foaming at the mouth, vomiting or diarrhoea, shaking or weakness, and seizures.
– Battersea said pet ice lollies are not only a delicious way to help your pet in the heat but a nutritious snack too.
As a treat for your cat, the animal rescue centre suggests freezing the water from a can of tuna along with a few tuna flakes for them to lick.
– It can be painful for your pet to walk on surfaces that heat up in the sun, and they can even sustain burns in extreme heat.
Battersea Dogs & Cats Home said if it feels too hot for you to touch, then the chances are your pet is thinking the same.
Sir Keir Starmer accused the Government of being “checked out” and failing to do “the basics” to prepare the nation for the heatwave.
The Labour leader told reporters: “We need a national resilience strategy and the Government consulted about this.
“That consultation closed down 10 months ago, but it hasn’t been implemented, so there’s real question marks about why the Government hasn’t done the basics.
“And I think for many people today it’s going to be a real struggle today and tomorrow in the heat and they’re seeing a Prime Minister who’s basically checked out, so he’s not really doing anything.
“You’ve got a Cabinet that is completely distracted with the circus of a leadership race.
“So the basics need to be done, that strategy needs to be put into place … and have an across all systems approach.”
By 12pm, the top recorded temperature was 34.8C (94.6F) in Charlwood in Surrey, according to the Met Office.
Heathrow had reached 34.5C (94.1F), Kew Gardens was 34.4C (93.9F) and St James’s Park in London saw temperatures of 34.3C (93.7F).
The level of road congestion at 9am today was lower in most UK cities than at the same time last week, according to figures published by location technology firm TomTom
In Birmingham, congestion levels fell from 46% on July 11 to 43% today, while in Glasgow they fell from 17% to 12%, in London they fell from 53% to 42% and in Manchester they fell from 45% to 37%.
The figures reflect the proportion of additional time required for journeys compared with free-flow conditions.
⚠️ Parts of England are forecast very high temperatures today.
☀️ Avoid spending extended periods of time in the sun 💧 Stay hydrated 🌡️ Be aware of symptoms of heat exhaustion 🧓🏻 Look out for neighbours & those who may be vulnerable
— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) July 18, 2022
A 13-year-old boy has died after going missing in a river as emergency services appealed for people to stay out of dangerous waterways and reservoirs.
The death of the teenager at Ovingham, Northumberland, is one of a number of water-related incidents during the sunny weather, including the deaths of a 16-year-old boy in Salford Quays, Greater Manchester, and a 50-year-old man in a reservoir near Leeds.
Northumbria Police said a body was found after an extensive search for the missing boy in Ovingham, which started shortly before 4.15pm on Sunday.
Downing Street said a “range of measures” were in place to cope with the impact of the heat.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “In the NHS, for example, we are increasing ambulance control room staff and on NHS 111. There are specialist teams from Network Rail and Transport for London monitoring the impact of higher temperatures so they can keep services running.”
The Department for Transport is in touch with port operators, highways agencies and the police to “check their contingency plans”.
Nigel Arnell, professor of climate system science at the University of Reading, told a Science and Media Centre briefing that all evidence from the climate models and projections suggests heatwaves are going to get worse and more frequent.
He said: “The way we’re dealing with heatwaves at the moment essentially is to implement our emergency plans, which may or may not be very effective – we won’t know until Tuesday afternoon.
“We really need to up the game in terms of adaptation and resilience in the UK and in other countries.
“And there are a number of things that we can do based on what we’ve learned over the last few years of working on this.
“One is that we need to make sure that all the new infrastructure that we’re currently building, the 40 new hospitals and so on, are designed to cope with the extremes that we’re definitely going to see.”
He added that as well as improving infrastructure for the future, upgrades to existing infrastructure need to be done with future temperatures in mind.
Staying in the shade and wearing sun cream are some of the steps you can take to keep safe in the heat.
More schools are closing because of the extreme weather.
Braidwood School in Birmingham said it will remain closed until Wednesday because of the heat, while 53 schools in Buckinghamshire have closed and reverted to remote learning.
North Wootton Academy and South Wootton Junior and Infant School in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, are closed because of low water supply amid the heat.
Network Rail warned that journey times could more than double for train passengers as speed restrictions are imposed.
The chances of services returning to normal by midweek will also depend on any “damage that the weather does to the infrastructure” over the course of Monday and Tuesday, travellers have been told.
Speed restrictions have been imposed on trains amid fears of rails buckling in the heat.
Kevin Groves, chief spokesman for Network Rail, said trips which typically take two hours could take “more than four hours” as emergency measures have been brought in to prevent trains derailing.
Britons prepare for the heatwave ahead of surging temperatures
Met Office spokeswoman Nicola Maxey said there would be “exceptional heat” on Monday and Tuesday, with Tuesday seeing the peak of the heat in central and eastern England.
Temperatures on Monday were likely to peak around 37-38C, with the hottest weather seen in places within an area from the East Midlands to east Wales.
On Tuesday quite a large area of central and eastern England, from the Vale of York down towards London, are at risk of seeing temperatures above 38C or possibly 40C, she said.
The temperature has already exceeded 30C (86F) in one part of the South East.
The village of Wisley in Surrey recorded 30.2C at 10am, the Met Office said.
Writtle in Essex has reached 29.8C, Manston in Kent has recorded 29.5C and Heathrow has seen temperatures reach 29.4C.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said technological advances were required to tackle the damage being done to the planet.
Speaking at Farnborough Air Show, Mr Johnson said: “On this scorching day, with the thermometer about to blow and temperatures here apparently higher than the Sahara, there is the next great technological challenge, which is how to send a plane across the Atlantic without burning thousands of tons of kerosene and adding to the carbon tea cosy that is heating our planet to destruction.
“We know that we must fix it. We know that time is running out.
“That’s why one of the first things I initiated three years ago was a project called Jet Zero, which I think many of you are participating in, thanks very much for what you are doing.
“A zero-carbon flight.”
Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster temporarily closed due to the hot weather, with the animals doing their best to stay cool.
At the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, west London, the temperatures inside the greenhouses are cooler than outside during the heatwave.
On hot, dry days the evaporative cooling effect created by misting the plants in glasshouses can be sufficient to cool the house slightly below external temperatures.
These beachgoers avoided the heat by heading out early.