For the first time, the highest-level heat emergency has been put in place in England as record temperatures are forecast to put people at risk of heat-related illness and death, even among healthy people.
Some schools will close amid the potential 40C heatwave as health chiefs said the pressure on the NHS would be “extreme” with a severe shortage of beds, while passengers on many rail routes were urged not to travel.
Forecasters are giving an 80 per cent chance that the UK’s record high of 38.7C will be broken on Monday or Tuesday, with the UKHSA issuing a level four heat alert.
At level four – “a national emergency” – the UKHSA warns that “illness and death can occur among healthy and fit people, not just high-risk groups, and a multi-sectoral response will be needed at national and regional levels”. Risks listed below the warning level include melting roads and deformation of railways. A level four warning covering the whole of England will remain in place throughout Monday and Tuesday, UKSHA said.
Dr Nikos Christidis, climate attribution scientist at the Met Office, said: “We had hoped we wouldn’t get to this, but for the first time in history we are forecasting temperatures above 40C in the UK.”
He added: “Climate change has already affected the likelihood of extreme temperatures in the UK. In the current climate, the UK could be 10 times more likely to experience temperatures of around 40 degrees Celsius than under a natural, unmanipulated climate.’
It comes as the Met Office separately issued its first ‘red warning’ for extreme heat – meaning it is ‘very likely there will be a risk to life’ – covering large parts of England, including London, Birmingham and Manchester.
The Met Office says there is a 50 per cent chance the mercury could reach 40C in England on Monday or Tuesday. The current UK record was set at Cambridge Botanic Gardens on 25 July 2019.
Cabinet minister Keith Malthouse chaired a Cobra emergency committee meeting to discuss the heatwave on Thursday and will hold another Cobra ministerial meeting on Saturday.
Downing Street said officials would continue to meet over the weekend and that “the Prime Minister is aware of all the latest information”.
Labor accused ministers of being “asleep at the wheel” by demanding guidance on “safe indoor working temperatures”.
Deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “Ministers have gone missing when we need a real plan that properly communicates how essential services will be delivered and how people will be kept safe.”
As the country braces for heatwaves, some schools will be closed on Monday and Tuesday. Alan Rowe, headteacher of Dr Chaloner’s High School in Buckinghamshire, wrote to parents on Friday saying: “Due to the deteriorating weather forecast and the red alert (which was amber this morning), we have decided to close the school on Monday and Tuesday for reasons of labor protection”.
Teachers on both days will determine cover work and activities, Mr. Roe added, but there will be no live lessons.
In Hampshire, Costello School wrote to parents saying that following “extreme temperatures forecast for Monday and Tuesday next week, we have taken the difficult decision to close the school for those days”. Altwood Church of England School in Maidenhead has announced it will be closed on Monday and Tuesday due to the “severe heat”, as has Three Rivers Academy in Surrey.
A Department for Education spokesman said “school leaders have a responsibility to manage their own local circumstances, but we are not advising schools to close”. They added: “There are clear government guidelines available online to help school staff look after children in hot weather, including using ventilation, keeping children hydrated and avoiding vigorous physical activity for students.”
The UKHSA level four warning is being issued for the first time since the introduction of the ‘Heatwave Plan for England’ in 2004. In a section detailing the expected risks and response measures during a Level 4 heat wave, the document says: “Road surfaces are susceptible to melting under extreme or prolonged temperatures; however, since the surface temperature may be independent of the air temperature, melting is more likely to occur as a result of direct sunlight.”
It added: “The rail network will be susceptible to warping or warping of rails in extreme or prolonged temperatures, and this will vary according to specific local factors, including local geography and the state of track maintenance.”
Separately, Network Rail has warned train passengers to travel only if necessary, and plans to introduce speed limits on rail lines. Jake Kelly, group director of system operators at Network Rail, said: “Rail passengers in England and Wales should only travel if necessary on Monday and Tuesday as there will be delays and cancellations due to the unprecedented heatwave we are expecting.”
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “With soaring temperatures and a level four heat warning, the pressure on the NHS will be extreme over the coming days with severe bed shortages, emergency services severely stretched and several health care systems across the country are forced to report critical incidents.
“The Met Bureau has issued a red alert early next week and the NHS will be working very closely with other public services, including local authorities and the police, to do everything possible to prepare for a surge in demand for heat-related admissions. »
The Met’s chief meteorologist Paul Gundersen said: “Exceptional, possibly record-breaking temperatures are likely to occur early next week, quite widely across the red warning area on Monday and slightly further east and north on Tuesday. There is currently a 50 per cent chance we could see temperatures above 40C and an 80 per cent chance of a new maximum temperature being reached.
“Nights can also be exceptionally warm, especially in cities. This can lead to widespread impacts on people and infrastructure. Therefore, it is important for people to plan for the heat and change their daily routine. This temperature can have negative health consequences.”
While England will see the hottest temperatures, other parts of the UK are expecting potentially record-breaking temperatures. This was reported by meteorologist Stephen Keats The Independent: “I would say the hottest day for Wales, probably for most of Wales… would be Monday. I think 35[C] possibly very close to Wales’ all-time record of 35.2 [C] so the record is in jeopardy.
“I think the hottest day for Northern Ireland will be Monday… the 30th[C] I’d say Northern Ireland isn’t quite as hot, but still… hot enough to be honest.
“And then, for Scotland, the hottest weather is likely to be on Tuesday, particularly in the south of the country where 32, 33[C] possibly so it would also challenge Scotland’s all-time record of 32.9[C].”
The weather affected sporting events, with five races canceled on Monday and Tuesday.
A government spokesman said: “Ministers and officials are working across government with administrations and our partners to assess and mitigate the effects of the heatwave and we are already taking all the necessary measures to protect the public. Effectively, contingency measures will be taken immediately if and when needed, be it supporting the NHS or rail services.
“We urge everyone to continue to take precautions so they can stay cool and support vulnerable family, friends and neighbors who may find it harder to cope.”
Millions brace for record heat amid state of emergency
Source link Millions brace for record heat amid state of emergency