The Met Office has issued its first-ever extreme heat warning for the UK, with temperatures possibly reaching 33 degrees Celsius in western areas there.
“Many areas will continue to reach heatwave thresholds but the amber extreme heat warning focuses on western areas, where the most unusually high temperatures are likely to persist,” said the Met Office’s chief operational meteorologist, Steven Ramsdale.
An amber warning is the second-highest level under the Met Office’s new extreme heat warning service launched in June. It said temperatures in most areas covered by the warning would be in the high 20s and low 30s.
A note accompanying the alert warned of health effects on vulnerable people as well as heat exhaustion and sunburn for the wider population.
“I wrote to the prime minister last year and again at the start of this summer to warn that the country was not properly prepared for the growing risks from hot weather and needed a national heat risk strategy. We know that heatwaves are becoming more intense and frequent because of climate change,” said Bob Ward of the LSE’s Grantham research institute on climate change and the environment.
“We are now facing conditions that are similar to the period of hot weather that occurred in August 2020, resulting in more than 1,700 deaths across England.”
He said elderly people and those with respiratory illnesses were most vulnerable but deaths could be avoided with a national plan to manage the increasing heat.
The Met Office also said the likelihood that people would flock to coasts, rivers and lakes amid the weather would increase water safety concerns. At least six people died in water safety incidents over the weekend, leading to calls from emergency services warning people against swimming in open water.
The Met Office also said there could be an increased risk of wildfires as well as damage to heat-sensitive equipment and potential power cuts.