Britain sets new record — 104 degrees — as heat wave bakes Europe

People in Whitstable, Kent, try to enjoy the beach as Britain records its highest ever temperature on Tuesday -- 104 degrees Fehrenheit, recorded at Heathrow airport in London. Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI

July 19 (UPI) — Britain on Tuesday set a record high for hottest temperature ever recorded in the country — at least 104 degrees Fahrenheit — and forecasters said it would only get worse throughout the day.

The country’s weather office reported the record high temperature at London Heathrow Airport. Earlier Tuesday, Charlwood — about 25 miles southwest of downtown London — first broke the record with 102.3 degrees.

“If confirmed, this will be the highest temperature ever recorded in the U.K.,” the Met Office said in a tweet. “Temperatures are likely to rise further through today.”

Before Tuesday, the previous national record temperature for Britain was 101.6 degrees in 2019.

The record or near-record heat in Britain followed high temperatures after dark Wednesday and before dawn Tuesday. But it’s not just Britain.

A summer scorcher across Europe is holding its grip, with other nations bracing for record temperatures. In some places, like Paris, the mercury was forecast to reach nearly 110 degrees on Tuesday.

Some relief may be on the way in Britain, however, as parts of the country are expected to see thunderstorms later on Tuesday.

Hundreds of people have died during the European heat wave, which has also seen abnormal heat in Spain, the Netherlands and Germany.

Scotland was also expected to see another hot day on Tuesday and possibly break a heat record that has stood for nearly 20 years. Ireland on Monday saw its hottest temperature since 1887.

Some areas, including northern Italy, were also stricken by drought, adding to the unrelenting misery.

Elsewhere in Britain, utility services like water and electricity were strained by increased demand and public transit ground to a halt as steel tracks buckled and wiring systems failed. The heat led Network Rail to temporarily shutdown the East Coast Mainline and the Midland Mainline.

“We don’t take decisions like this lightly,” Jake Kelly, group director for system operation at Network Rail, said, according to BBC News. “Our engineers work very hard assessing the capability of the infrastructure facing that record heat, and we decided that we had no choice but to close it.”

Emergency services also felt the strain of the heat wave with London Ambulance Service fielding close to 7,000 emergency calls on Monday and numerous schools also closed for the day. A runway at Luton Airport near London sustained surface damage due to the excessive heat.

The historic heat in Europe is coinciding with several wildfires in Spain, Portugal, Greece and France. The Gironde blaze in southwest France has prompted authorities to evacuate tens of thousands of people.

“It never stops,” David Brunner, one of 1,500 firefighters battling the blaze, said, according to The Guardian. “In 30 years of firefighting, I have never seen a fire like this.”


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