Heatwave: UK’s highest temperature could be broken twice in next two days, Met Office says

The UK’s highest temperature record could be broken twice in the next two days, according to the Met Office.

Extreme temperatures of 37C and 38C are forecast in parts of England on Monday, and highs of around 40C could be recorded on Tuesday, the Met Office said.

“There’s a chance that we might break the record which is 38.7C today and then potentially again tomorrow,” Nicola Maxey, a spokesperson for the Met Office told The Independent.

The previous record of 38.7C was measured at Cambridge Botanic Garden on 25 July 2019.

The Met Office issued the UK’s first “red extreme” heat alert on Friday while the government declared a national heatwave emergency for the first time, saying even fit and healthy people were at risk of death from blistering temperatures.

Climate scientists have repeatedly warned that heatwaves are becoming more frequent, longer and hotter due to the human-caused climate crisis.

Commuters travel on the London Underground during a heatwave in London on Monday. (REUTERS)
Commuters travel on the London Underground during a heatwave in London on Monday. (REUTERS)

Greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, have increased global average temperatures by more than 1C since the latter half of the 19th century - known as pre-industrial times.

On Monday, the highest temperatures are forecast to hit parts of the east midlands and east Wales, while on Tuesday the highest temperatures are predicted from the Vale of York, torwards Lincoln, through to London.

“That’s quite a large swathe of the country that might see some of those higher temperatures and are at risk of going over into the 40C,” Ms Maxey said. “One of the unusual things about this heat is not only that it’s the first time we’ve forecast 40C but that it’s quite a large area of the country that is at risk of seeing these higher temperatures.”

The reason temperatures could peak on Monday and Tuesday is because high pressure has built up heat across the country in recent days, and there’s been an influx of heat from the continent since Sunday, explained Ms Maxey.

Temperatures are likely to be higher in urban areas compared to rural settings, and Ms Maxey warned that the highest temperature recorded wasn’t necessarily the upper limit of what people will experience across the country.

There are strict rules around where Met Office observation sites are placed, including ensuring there’s vegetation around them and buildings aren’t too close to ensure it records the temperature and not heat bouncing off a nearby building, for example, so the Met Office has data to compare over the years, explained Ms Maxey.

“Urban areas will be seeing the highest temperatures,” said Ms Maxey. “If you’re stuck in your car it’s going to be an awful lot hotter.”

The chief executive of the Met Office, Penelope Endersby, told BBC’s Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday it was possible temperatures on Tuesday could surpass 40C.

“Forty-one isn’t off the cards,” she told the show. “We’ve even got some 43s in the model but we’re hoping it won’t be as high as that.”

Temperatures are set to cool off on Wednesday, accompanied by thundery rain in places.