Ian Payne 4am - 7am
Britain's 'hottest day ever' kicks in with temperatures set to soar to 43C tomorrow
18 July 2022, 01:22 | Updated: 18 July 2022, 12:18
Britain's first ever red alert warning for the heatwave kicked in today as forecasters warned it is set to get even hotter tomorrow and is set to reach 43C
Listen to this article
As temperatures across the country soared higher than the Sahara, sweltering Brits were urged to "stay indoors, do as little as possible and avoid public transport.
Frustrated travellers are already reporting delays this morning - with several London Underground lines experiencing severe delays while some hospitals have cancelled appointments and schools closed.
Water companies have warned urgent action is needed to conserve supplies in parts of the UK.
And emergency services have urged people to be cautious when cooling off after the death toll from the heatwave rose to seven including three people who drowned.
Earlier the Met Office has issued its first ever red alert for extreme weather for Monday and Tuesday, with London expected to reach temperatures upwards of 40C.
In the capital, there is no service on the Hammersmith and City line, the Overground is suspended between Romford and Upminster and Willesden Junction and Richmond, and the Metropolitan line is suspended between Baker Street and Aldgate, all due to heat related speed restrictions.
There are severe delays across the Bakerloo, Central, District, Jubilee and Metropolitan lines, and minor delays on the Elizabeth line.
More than a dozen train companies are urging Brits not to travel as the red extreme heat warning comes into force, while schools up and down the country have taken the decision to close.
Network Rail will close the East Coast Main Line between noon and 8pm on Tuesday for all locations between London King's Cross and York and Leeds, with passengers warned not to travel.
Meanwhile, motorists have been warned they could find themselves halted by melting roads.
#Heatwave2022 continues with a a very warm start Monday, temperatures rising rapidly under strong sunshine throughout the morning, reaching into the mid to high thirties for many.— Met Office (@metoffice) July 17, 2022
Stay #WeatherAware ⚠️ pic.twitter.com/9r9rRvONoD
Met Office chief executive Penny Endersby warned of “absolutely unprecedented” conditions, with a national emergency having also been declared by the UK Health Security Agency ahead of the heatwave.
The hottest temperature currently recorded in the UK is 38.7C, at Cambridge Botanic Gardens on July 25, 2019. Before that, it was 38.5C, in Faversham, Kent in 2003.
Kit Malthouse, who chaired a Cobra meeting on the heatwave, told LBC this morning: “We are urging people to be sensible… and keep as cool as they possibly can, and keep a look out for young children and elderly vulnerable people.
“We are asking people to be aware there’s likely to be disruption on the transport network.
“Given there is likely to be significant disruption… if they are able to and it works for them they should think about working from home.”
Minister says work from home if you can due to the heatwave
He said Europe’s rail network was better equipped to deal with the extreme heat.
“We’ve never had it here in this country and we just need to see how the system operates.
“Their systems are built to deal with that kind of temperature. There are tolerances built into equipment when it’s put in place.
“The system may well cope.”
Minister Kit Malthouse says UK rail network not designed for 40C heat
He said the UK’s “fast trains put heavy pressure on the rails” and suggested trains in places like Italy might not run quite so fast on the tracks.
A total of 21 rail operators - ranging from Transport for Wales and Gatwick Express to the Transpennine Express and Southern - said they will be running a slower service on Monday and Tuesday after National Rail implemented speed restrictions across its network. Cancellations are also in place.
Those who have to travel are being encouraged to check their journeys on the National Rail website before setting off and taking water with them to stay hydrated.
Sam MacDougall, operations director for Network Rail said: "Closing the line to traffic is always a last resort but it is the right thing to do to keep people safe on Tuesday given the unprecedented heatwave forecast.
"The forecast temperatures are well above those which our infrastructure is designed for, and safety must come first."
Similar advice has been issued for those travelling on the Tube, with commuters reminded to stay hydrated.
Transport for London tweeted: "Only travel if essential due to very high temperatures being forecast."
Probably no 'off the shelf plan' for extreme heat
The AA also issued a stark warning, saying roads could melt and tyres may burst.
Edmund King, AA president, added that the extreme temperatures could be dangerous if motorists break down or get stuck in congestion.
"Ensure you have enough fuel or electric charge to keep your air-conditioning running," he said.
"The heatwave could cause considerable problems for many older vehicles without air-conditioning or recent servicing, with both the car and occupants over-heating. Driving outside the hottest part of the day is advisable.
"Carry plenty of water - at least one litre per person travelling.
"Keeping yourself and other occupants hydrated can help lower body temperatures in hot weather. If the worst should happen, you can keep yourself and those with you topped up with cool water while waiting for help to arrive."
Meanwhile, several schools in several counties, including Nottinghamshire and Hampshire, have made the decision to close on Monday and Tuesday.
None have been formally ordered to shut but they are being told they must take steps to keep pupils safe.
One college in Bromley, London, told parents they have "taken the unprecedented decision to close the school and ask students and staff to work remotely".
Dr Challonher’s High School in Buckinghamshire told parents on Friday that they were closing for health and safety reasons.
And headteachers at Hartford Manor Primary in Cheshire, told the BBC they would scrap uniform policy on Monday and Tuesday to help keep children cool.
Camilla Tominey calls for a 'sense of perspective' on the heatwave.
The record breaking heat will surpass that of popular holiday destinations such as the Bahamas, Jamaica, Greece and the Sahara.
Other areas of England will also experience hotter weather, with the Midlands predicted to see highs of 37C, East Anglia with 36C and the North West and North East with 33C.
In preparation for the soaring temperatures, two emergency Cobra meetings were held over the weekend - the PM being notably absent.
Brits were later urged to take three steps to ensure they can stay safe in the challenging conditions: Drink plenty of water, seek shade and cover up.
Nick Ferrari confronts Minister on Boris missing Cobra
Additional contingency support for ambulance services, such as more call handlers and extra working hours, have also been put in place for Monday and Tuesday.
It comes after the chairman of the NHS Confederation said hospitals were going to be "really, really pushed" over the next few days.
Britons are being urged to stay inside during the hottest points of the day, between 11am and 4pm, and wear sun cream, a hat, stay in the shade and keep hydrated with water.
Emergency services have also urged people to be cautious when cooling off after the body of a boy was recovered in Salford Quays, Greater Manchester, in the early hours of Sunday morning.