Londoners are being warned of the dangers of going outdoors on Monday as an “unprecedented” heatwave could hit a record-breaking 41C in the capital.
Firefighters have stretched their resources to tackle more than 800 grass fires in the capital in recent weeks as schools plan to cancel outdoor play and PE lessons and the AA warns of melting roads.
Meteorologists are warning Brits of one of the most significant heatwaves in western Europe in over 200 years as the heat that has sparked vast wildfires ravaging France, Spain and Portugal moves north.
Parts of west London including Richmond and Kew will feel the full force of the heatwave now set to hit 41C both next Monday and Tuesday, according to BBC Weather –which would smash the UK record of 38.7C.
Temperatures are also expected to top 40C at Heathrow airport and Hayes.
The Met Office issued their first ever red extreme heat warning with a “threat to life” with their forecasters predicting the weather to hit 35C on Monday and 37C on Tuesday in the capital.
UK Weather: Summer Heatwave 2022
AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Tyler Roys said the severity of the heat could rival the 2003 heatwave when over 30,000 people lost their lives, both directly and indirectly, adding this could be one of the worst heatwaves in Europe since 1757.
BBC weather presenters warned the heatwave was “not normal” whilst Met Office chief executive Penny Endersby made a dramatic intervention on video warning Brits are “not adapted to what is coming”.
Our @metoffice forecasters have issued the first ever Red Extreme heat warning for unprecedented heat across parts of the UK on Monday and Tuesday.
Please take this warning seriously and take steps to keep you and those around you safe. #heatwave pic.twitter.com/vjMUsvYtbP
— @MetOfficeCE (@metofficece) July 15, 2022
Ms Endersby said: “The extreme heat we’re forecasting right now is absolutely unprecedented.
“We’ve seen when climate change has driven such unprecedented severe weather events all around the world it can be difficult for people to make the best decisions in these situations because nothing in their life experience has led them to know what to expect. Here in the UK we’re used to treating a hot spell as a chance to go and play in the sun.
“This is not that sort of weather.
“Our lifestyles and our infrastructure are not adapted to what is coming. Please treat the warnings we are putting out as seriously as you would a red or amber warning from us for wind or snow and follow the advice. Stay out of the sun, keep your home cool, think about adjusting your plans.”
BBC forecaster Matt Taylor hit out at what he called the “it’s summer brigade” downplaying the threat of the heatwave.
He wrote on Twitter: “40C is NOT normal for the UK 25C by night is NOT normal UK infrastructure’s not built for it.
“Heatwaves are among the most dangerous of natural hazards.
“Heat records are becoming more frequent.
“7 out of 10 hottest UK days have been since 2003.”
A London Fire Brigade spokesman said firefighters have attended more than 800 grass and open land fires in London in the last six weeks.
The source of the exceptionally warm air is Africa’s Sahara Desert with heat projected to expand farther north and east each day, reaching Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany and the UK later this weekend.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The Met Office has now issued a red warning for extreme heat on Monday and Tuesday. This is potentially dangerous and a very serious consequence of climate change.
“This warning is not limited to the most vulnerable and means that substantial changes in all our daily routines will be required, and there is likely to be an impact on travel.
“All of the capital’s key agencies and emergency services are working closely together to ensure London is prepared for the extreme heat that is forecast and will continue to provide advice for Londoners ahead of Monday.
“I urge Londoners to be very careful and to look after each other in the coming days.”