The UK is bracing itself for the hottest day of the year, with some regions already experiencing a heatwave. On Tuesday, areas including West Yorkshire, Cornwall, Devon, and Wales surpassed the heatwave threshold, although temperatures didn’t quite reach June’s high of 32.2°C (90°F).
The Met Office has raised heat-health alerts to amber for much of England, with only the North East remaining under a yellow alert. This poses a risk to people of all ages and puts added pressure on the NHS.
Met Office meteorologist Amy Bokota revealed that 13 weather stations have officially confirmed a heatwave, and more may join the list in the days ahead. She anticipates temperatures of 32°C on Wednesday, possibly soaring to 33°C on Thursday.
Furthermore, some southern areas will continue to experience 32°C temperatures until Sunday. The criteria for a heatwave involve recording a period of at least three consecutive days with daily maximum temperatures meeting the heatwave threshold, which ranges from 25°C to 28°C across the UK.
Wales will also experience hot conditions, and parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland might witness unseasonably high temperatures.
The amber warning now covers English regions such as London, the South East, the South West, the East and West Midlands, the East, North West, and Yorkshire and Humber. All of these regions were initially issued a yellow warning on Monday, which has since been upgraded.
The North East remains the only region with a yellow alert, signalling that the elderly and individuals with pre-existing health conditions should take extra precautions. Officials, however, believe the NHS in the area won’t face significant strain.
On Monday, temperatures reached 30°C in southern England and southeast Wales, according to the Met Office. This hot weather follows a relatively cool and wet summer across much of the UK. While July was wetter and cooler than average, June was the hottest on record.
The warm conditions continue into Tuesday, with expected highs of 31°C near London. Some parts of southern and western England may see temperatures remain above 20°C overnight into Wednesday.
The Met Office spokesperson Oli Claydon predicts sunny and cloudless skies throughout the week, with temperatures potentially reaching 31 or 32°C by Wednesday and Thursday. These high temperatures will be widespread, with central and southeast England experiencing the most intense heat.
Claydon also warns that Wednesday night could be exceptionally warm, with temperatures possibly not dropping below 20°C, creating a “tropical night.” A similar situation might occur on Thursday.
The Met Office attributes the current weather patterns to tropical storms in the western Atlantic and deep low-pressure systems, which have intensified the jet stream over the Atlantic Ocean. This has led to high-pressure systems dominating the UK.
Friday could see temperatures again hitting 31°C, although there may be more cloud cover and chances of rain in the far north-west of Scotland. The weekend’s conditions could change, but as of now, there are no indications of another strong heatwave.
Average temperatures are expected to return by the middle of the following week. It’s worth noting that heatwaves are becoming more frequent and extreme due to climate change, with the UK even experiencing temperatures exceeding 40°C for the first time last year.
Scientists have attributed this extreme heat to climate change, emphasising its significant impact on weather patterns. Additionally, the Met Office has identified “Saharan dust” as the reason behind the picturesque sunsets observed across the UK, with this phenomenon expected to continue for the rest of the week.