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Record-breaking heat in the UK today

A man giving water to a queen's guard in record-breaking heat.
Amid record-breaking heat, a member of the Queen’s Guard is given water outside Buckingham Palace. Photo: John Sibley/Reuters via The Guardian.

Hottest day on record

Record-breaking heat was reported in the UK today (July 18, 2022). According to the Met Office – the national meteorological service for the UK – temperatures climbed above 40°C (104°F) for the first time ever.

The previous heat record for the UK, of 38.7°C (101.7°F), was set in 2019. That record was first broken this morning at 10:40 a.m. local time in Surrey, with a reading of 39.1°C (102.4 °F). Surrey’s record was surpassed about two hours later, when a temperature of 40.2°C (104.4°F) was recorded at 12:50 pm local time at London’s Heathrow airport. But forecaster say temperatures are still climbing is some places.

Scotland also recorded its highest ever temperature, according to provisional Met Office figures, reaching 34.8°C (94.6° F) in Charterhall in the Scottish Borders.

Britons coping with record-breaking heat

Britons aren’t used to this kind of heat. Few homes – about 5% – have air-conditioning. Of special concern are the elderly, among the most at risk for health complications from the heat. Many residential nursing homes are located in older buildings without air conditioning.

On Monday, to cope with the heat wave, the government urged people to work from home. Many schools closed. Doctors’ offices were shut, and train service was limited for fear the tracks would buckle. The British Museum first closed off its upper galleries, then later closed the entire museum.

The Guardian reported today that 14,500 homes and businesses in the UK are without power, after the sizzling temperatures caused transformers and other equipment to overheat.

And frighteningly, fires have been breaking over London. The Guardian reported:

Firefighters have described blazes tearing through homes and buildings in London as “absolute hell” with residents evacuated, people taken to hospital and a major incident declared.

Met Office forecasters expect temperatures will start to return closer to normal for the time of year later this week, with cooler air pushing across the country from the west.

Meanwhile, here in the U.S. a heat dome has been building over large parts of the West, including EarthSky’s hometown of Austin, Texas. As of today, the National Weather Service says that dangerous heat will continue over a large portion of the U.S. this week, with now more than 100 million people under excessive heat advisories and warnings.

Bottom line: Record-breaking heat was reported in the UK today (July 19, 2022) According to the Met Office, temperatures climbed above 40°C (104°F) at for the first time ever.

Via the UK Met Office: Record breaking temperatures for the UK

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