A woman puts sunscreen onto a man’s back at the West Reservoir in London, Britain, on Sunday. Britain set a new national record temperature on Tuesday — more than 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Photo by Tolga Akmen/EPA-EFE
July 19 (BP) — Britain on Tuesday set a record high for hottest temperature ever recorded in the country — over 102 degrees Fahrenheit — and forecasters said it would only get worse throughout the day and possibly later.
The country’s weather office reported the record high temperature — 102.3 degrees — in Charlwood, which is located about 25 miles southwest of downtown London.
“If confirmed this will be the highest temperature ever recorded in the U.K.,” the Met Office said in a tweet Tuesday. “Temperatures are likely to rise further through today.”
The previous national record temperature for Britain was 101.6 degrees, set 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 so far during the European heat wave, which has also seen abnormal heat in countries like 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 and a runway at Luton Airport near London sustained surface damage due to the excessive heat.
The historic heat in Europe is coinciding with a number of wildfires in Spain, Portugal, Greece and France. The Gironde blaze in southwest France, for example, 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.”