UK weather: Health alert issued as 38C heatwave begins

7 August 2020, 09:28

By Ewan Somerville

Swathes of Britain will bask in a stunning August heatwave as temperatures top 38C this weekend, forecasters say. 

Glorious sunshine is expected to last until Tuesday, with the mercury consistently climbing to the mid-30s in south east England and potentially hitting record levels today. 

Elsewhere in the country can expect to enjoy temperatures “widely reaching above 30 Celsius” on Friday, Saturday and Sunday - with only minimal cloud cover masking the rays. 

It will bring joy to thousands of families on a “staycation” getaway in light of ongoing quarantine rules for trips to the Continent. 

The Met Office has issued an amber heat health warning, the second-highest available, as it warned people to drink plenty of fluids, avoid excessive quantities of alcohol, and look out for eachother, especially high-risk groups. 

Met Office chief meteorologist, Dan Suri, said: “Although much of the UK can expect a spell of warm and sunny weather lasting into early next week, it’s going to turn very hot for parts of England and Wales with temperatures widely reaching above 30 Celsius on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Met Office heatwave criteria will be reached over East Anglia and southeast England."

READ MORE: Staycation surge leaves Britons scrambling for UK holiday spots

Southend beach on the hottest day of the year and third hottest on record, 31 July
Southend beach on the hottest day of the year and third hottest on record, 31 July. Picture: PA
Bathers enjoyed Worthing beach on Thursday
Bathers enjoyed Worthing beach on Thursday. Picture: PA

Forecasters said they have more than 90 per cent confidence that Met Office heatwave criteria - three days of above-average sunshine - will be hit in southern England. 

“Friday is likely to be the hottest day with temperatures of 36 to 37 Celsius in parts of east and southeast England," Mr Suri said. "It’s possible temperatures could reach similar levels on Saturday, before falling slightly on Sunday. 

“There’s also a small chance temperatures could reach close to 38 Celsius in one or two spots in the southeast on Friday, but this will partly depend on the chance of cloud spreading in from the southwest during the afternoon.

“Along with hot weather by day, it will stay warm and humid overnight with temperatures remaining in the high teens and low 20s Celsius.”

Members of the public took a dip at Runswick Bay, North Yorkshire, on 6 August
Members of the public took a dip at Runswick Bay, North Yorkshire, on 6 August. Picture: PA

Met Office deputy chief meteorologist, Chris Bulmer, added: “The hot airmass will remain over much of England and Wales until early next week, so we’ll continue to see maximum temperatures in the low to mid-30s Celsius as the heatwaves continues.” 

After some showery rain for parts of Northern Ireland and western Scotland on Friday, northern parts of the UK will still see a spell of warm and settled weather lasting into early next week, with temperatures in the mid-20s. 

The RNLI rescue charity urged families to be aware of the “plenty of potential dangers” if they are heading to the coast.

Ishani Kar-Purkayastha, consultant at Public Health England, said: “Many of us welcome warmer weather, but some people may find it more difficult to cope. People recovering from COVID-19 at home, those who are self-isolating, older people and people with underlying health conditions are all more vulnerable during hot weather.”

Police ensured large groups were following social distancing in Southend this week
Police ensured large groups were following social distancing in Southend this week. Picture: PA

He added: “If you need to provide direct care to someone at risk from hot weather, follow government guidance on how to do this safely. The most important advice is to ensure they stay hydrated, keep cool and know how to keep their homes cool.”

Last week, on 31 July, the UK recorded the hottest day of the year so far and the third-warmest on record, with the mercury rising to 37.8C (100.04F) at Heathrow airport. 

The coastguard reported its busiest day for more than four years as it dealt with more than 300 incidents. The current hottest August day on record is 38.5 Celsius, reached in Faversham on August 10th 2003.  

The current record maximum temperature for the UK is 38.7 Celsius, reached in Cambridge Botanic Garden on 25 July 2019.