UK records hottest day of the year so far as heatwave triggers thunderstorms

·3-min read

Britain recorded its hottest day of the year so far on Tuesday, the Met Office said, as the country swelters in a heatwave that has caused up to eight deaths and triggered heavy thunderstorms.

The temperature reached 32.2C (89.96F) at Heathrow airport in west London on Tuesday afternoon, beating the earlier record set in the same place on Sunday.

It comes amid an amber extreme heat warning which is set to last until Friday, with the mercury expected to climb as high as 33C in parts of the country.

As thunderstorms and torrential rain rumbled across southern England, forecasters warn of water spray, sudden flooding and lightning strikes, which could lead to power cuts, damage to buildings and delays to public transport.

The confirmed death toll from the country’s warm weather surge rose to eight after it was confirmed that a drowned swimmer’s body washed up at a Wakefield nature park. Since the start of the weekend seven others drowned or suffered a heart attack or “heat stroke”.

Heavy rain in Billericay, Essex (PA)
Heavy rain in Billericay, Essex (PA)

Tuesday night’s thunderstorms could echo the flooding witnessed last week in London and the southeast, which affected several Underground stations.

Dan Stroud, a Met Office forecaster, told the PA news agency: “We have issued some new amber thunderstorm warnings for parts of southeast London, down to parts of Essex and Kent.

“There is also one in place for areas surrounding Cambridgeshire.

“We’re seeing some fairly heavy showers developing during the afternoon along with reports of lightning and hail.

“There will be some intense spells of heavy rainfall as the afternoon develops and some slow-moving downpours, some places will see it, others won’t at all.

“There may be some localised flooding issues as a fair amount of rain will fall – meaning possible delays to public transport, power cuts and potentially surface flooding.”

Mr Stroud said the recent spell of hot weather has drawn in moist air to eastern parts of the country, which is causing the downpours.

Beachgoers sit under umbrellas in Bournemouth (PA)
Beachgoers sit under umbrellas in Bournemouth (PA)

He said as much as 40 to 60mm of rain could fall in one hour, with some areas seeing a “substantial” amount.

Commuters may be the worst affected by the downpours, with South Western Railway reporting a track circuit failure at London Waterloo.

The Environment Agency has issued 16 flood alerts for Tuesday – meaning flooding is possible – in parts of London, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

Mr Stroud added: “If you get heavy rain you’ll certainly know about it, but the rest of the country is continuing to bask in dry skies and warm temperatures.

“We’re seeing the warmest temperatures in southwestern areas and parts of Wales.”

The Met Office has issued an amber extreme heat warning for parts of Wales, all of southwest England and parts of southern and central England over the next few days.

Public Health England has extended its heat-health warning, which warns people to take measures to stay cool and look out for vulnerable people, until Friday.

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