The deadly heat wave that has been roasting Europe is reaching historic levels across Britain, with schools and transportation services alike disrupted by the soaring temps.
A new all-time record high was set in the United Kingdom Tuesday, and temperatures were forecast to soar higher as the day went on as an epic heat wave continued to roast much of Europe.
The U.K. Met office said Tuesday that the highest temperature ever recorded in the U.K. was observed in In the English capital. London’s Heathrow Airport reported a temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40.2 Celcius) shortly before 1 p.m. local time Tuesday. Temperatures in London typically climb to around 70 F (21 C) during the middle of July.
Not only was the reading of 104 F (40.2 C) a new all-time record in the U.K., but officials said it was also the first time in recorded history that the country had eclipsed 40 degrees Celcius.
The temperature at Heathrow eclipsed the previous all-time record that had been set earlier Tuesday in the village of Charlwood, England, located in the southeastern part of the country. The temperature, which still had to be confirmed, reached 102.4 degrees Fahrenheit (39.1 degrees Celcius). The previous all-time record in the U.K. prior to Tuesday was established three years ago when a temperature of 102 F (38.7 C) was recorded in Cambridge Botanic Garden on July 25, 2019.
Several towns and cities in France have recorded their highest-ever temperatures as nearly 2,000 firefighters continued to battle huge blazes in the south-west and a searing heatwave gripping much of western Europe moved north and east.
Nantes, near the Atlantic coast, recorded 42C on Monday, beating a previous high of 40.3C set in 1949, while Brest, in Brittany, hit 39.9C, more than four degrees higher than its 2002 record of 35.1C.
Night-time temperature records were also set, including at La Hague in Normandy where 32.8C was recorded at 3am on Tuesday. Officials said France’s entire west coast, from Landes in the south to Finistère in the north, was affected.
Records were expected to be smashed again on Tuesday, meteorologists said, as the mass of hot air, the second to engulf large parts of the continent in recent weeks, moved north and east into eastern France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.
The Dutch KNMI weather service said temperatures could top 38C on Tuesday, issuing a code orange extreme weather warning of risk to life in the centre and south of the country, while officials in Belgium warned of 40C-plus temperatures.
Climate experts described the record as a harbinger of rising risks to lives and livelihoods for at least the next 30 years. “It’s going to get worse over the next few years,” said Nigel Arnell, a professor of climate system science at the University of Reading who called for urgent updates to the UK’s emergency plans so they are ready for next year. “Similar events in the future will last longer and cover larger areas.”