Thursday has been confirmed the hottest day of the year so far, topping yesterday’s height by 1.1C.
Friday is expected to be hotter still with 34C forecast in the southeast and temperatures pushing up to 30C across much of England and Wales. A third day of temperatures above regional thresholds would mean the UK was experiencing a heatwave.
Health officials and experts have warned that the heat poses a danger to at-risk groups including the elderly and those with chronic health conditions including diabetes and Parkinson’s.
Dr Radhika Khosla of the University of Oxford, said: “The health implications of rising temperatures in the UK are serious.
“Important physiological changes occur in response to high temperatures including changes in our circulatory, nervous and respiratory systems.
“When these adaptive measures are not enough, the risk of cardiopulmonary and cardiovascular problems increases among older adults, young children, people with chronic conditions, athletes and outdoor workers.”
Several heat health alerts covering much of England have been issued for Friday by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
London, East of England and the southeast are under Level 3 alerts, meaning local health services are expected to take action to protect at-risk groups.
Level 2 alerts remain in place for the east Midlands and southwest. The highest level of alert is 4 and would only be triggered if a heatwave threatens a national emergency whereby fit and healthy people are at risk of illness and death.
Many experts are worried the current warm spell is a sign of Britain’s perilous future under the effects of climate change.
Dr Mark McCarthy, head of the Met Office National Climate Information Centre, said: “Reaching 34C during June is a rare, but not unprecedented, event in the historical climate records for the UK.
“But if it should happen this week it would be notable that it would have occurred on three days during the last six Junes.”
Dr Edward Gryspeerdt, a research associate at Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute, told The Independent: “Climate change has increased the average temperature of UK summers, and it is also increasing the likelihood of experiencing more extreme temperatures during hot spells and heatwaves.”
He warned against linking all heatwave incidents to the climate crisis without looking at broader patterns in the temperature records.
“However, we know that heatwaves become hotter and much more likely as the world warms. Global land temperatures have increased by over 1C since the industrial revolution – a heatwave like the one in 2018 is now more than 30 times more likely than it would have been naturally,” he said.
Countries all over the world are experiencing a very warm start to June, with dangerous impacts. Both Spain and France have seen wildfires in recent days and the around one-third of US residents have been warned against going outdoors due to extreme heat and humidity.