UK hits all-time temperature record — Analysis
The temperature on Tuesday has breached 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in Britain for the first time on record; the historic day is marked by growing numbers of casualties, a “huge surge” in fires and travel chaos.
Officially, it was the warmest night (with mercury reaching 25.8C), but the day that followed was the hottest: 12.50 PM the Met office measured 40.2C at Heathrow Airport.
The unprecedented heat wave, which has already been treated as a national emergency, on Tuesday led to a sharp increase in numbers of fire incidents in the country’s capital, with some of them described as “Important.”
“London Fire Brigade just declared a major emergency in the wake of a surge in capital fires today. London Fire Brigade is currently under tremendous pressure,” mayor Sadiq Khan wroteFollow us on Twitter.
Numerous people have been affected by heat-related negligence, even though the National Health Service warns about inevitable heat-related deaths.
Five people, mostly teenagers, have died in open water since Saturday.
Transport chaos was caused by high temperatures. Both railway operators and motoring group RAC called on passengers and motorists to avoid traveling unless it is “Absolutely necessary.” For those who still decide to travel, warnings have been issued. The RAC stated that they expect a 20% rise in breakdowns.
Network Rail has introduced speed limitations, saying that due to temporary speed limits the journeys will take significantly longer, with a “Probability high” of cancellations, delays and last-minute alterations.
In fact, train traffic on many routes was suspended on Tuesday.
Network Rail announced its heat wave record in addition to the many travel warnings posted Monday and Tuesday.
“Our hottest rail recorded yesterday was 62°C, in Suffolk! Rail temperature can be about 20°C higher than air temperature, causing it to expand, bend and break,” it said.
Not only are iron rails at risk from extreme temperatures, but also other structures. It is possible to see the Hammersmith Bridge’s 135-year old chains wrapped in silver insulation foil, which should prevent overheating. In summer, the chains must be kept below 13C. Safety engineers will close the bridge to pedestrians and cyclists if any reach 18C. It was closed for motor traffic until recent repairs.
Nearly all of Europe suffers from heat waves. Spain and Portugal have reported over 1,000 deaths due to extreme temperatures in the past week. Temperatures are forecast to decrease in the UK and France on Wednesday, according to both neighboring France as well.
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