U.K. Braces for Heatwave as National Emergency Is Declared

The U.K. has declared a national emergency as it braces for a heatwave after the United Kingdom’s National Severe Weather Warning Service issued its first ever “red” warning for extreme heat. The heat will be record breaking in England, with temperatures of up to 104 degrees by next week.

British authorities have started to spread the word about heat safety techniques before the waves hit Monday and Tuesday. They include keeping hydrated, being cool, being out of direct sunlight, staying out from the sun and paying attention to weather warnings. In response to the U.K.’s increased water use and severe droughts, environmental groups have begun to increase water conservation efforts.

“Exceptional, perhaps record-breaking temperatures are likely early next week, quite widely across the red warning area on Monday, and focussed a little more east and north on Tuesday,” Chief Meteorologist, Paul Gundersen, said in a statement. “Nights are also likely to be exceptionally warm, especially in urban areas. It is possible for this to have a wide impact on infrastructure and people. People should plan accordingly and think about changing their lifestyles to cope with the heat. This level of heat can have adverse health effects.”

The Met Office defines a red heatwave as, “so severe and/or prolonged that its effects extend outside the health and social care system. At this level, illness and death may occur among the fit and healthy, and not just in high-risk groups.”

Beginning with the color amber, which indicates a minimal level of vigilance, is followed by yellow and the readiness and alert stage for possible heatwaves. The red warning sign signifies a national emergency. A red alert was created for the period July 17-19, after which an amber warning was in effect.

Heat is expected to return closer to normal levels in the U.K. by July 20, when a cold front passes through the country, however, scientists and environmentalists have concerns that the heat won’t be gone for long.

As blazing heat sweeps Europe, wildfires blaze large areas of Portugal, Spain and Croatia, triggering the British heatwave. Officials report that over 1000 people had to be evacuated from these areas, and thousands of acres were destroyed. The risk for drought is also high.

“Climate change has already influenced the likelihood of temperature extremes in the U.K. The chances of seeing 40°C days in the U.K. could be as much as 10 times more likely in the current climate than under a natural climate unaffected by human influence,” Dr. Nikos Christidis, a climate attribution scientist at the Met Office, said in a report.

Following the deaths of nine hikers in Marmolada from a glacier melt, the European Union has released a statement saying that climate change caused rising temperatures. According to the Union, there will be more natural disasters this summer and extreme heat.

“Statistics show that since 2017, we have the most intense, intense forest fires ever seen in Europe. And that we unfortunately expect the 2022 forest fire season could follow this trend,” EU Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič told legislators. “The tragic event in Marmolada is just the latest example of disasters linked to warmer temperatures and thus to climate change.”


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