The UK recorded a temperature of over 40C (104F) for the first time as heatwaves continued to engulf several parts of the nation.
Temperatures hit 40.2C at London Heathrow at 12.50 local time, breaking a record registered just two hours earlier, the MET said. The UK had previously recorded the highest temperature at 38.7 C (101.7 F) in 2019. The new record was set in Charlwood, England.
The heatwave has disrupted travel, health care and schools in the country, which wasn’t fully prepared for such an extreme rise in temperature. On Tuesday, London in the South and Manchester and Leeds in the North remained under the “extreme” heat warning. The “extreme” warning means there is threat to life.
The BBC reported that emergency services are experiencing a rise in 999 calls. The Met Office issued a red extreme heat warning covering much of central, northern, and south-east England.
“For meteorologists, exceeding records by a margin of two or three degrees is a staggering thought, when historically records were only broken by fractions of a degree,” BBC Weather’s Simon King said.
According to provisional figures, UK experienced the warmest night on record from Monday into Tuesday.
Rail services on Monday were heavily impacted due to the heat, Network Rail said. Jake Kelly, the group director for system operation at Network Rail, said it had taken “the difficult and regrettable” decision to close the East Coast Mainline and the Midland Mainline.
Kelly told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We don’t take decisions like this lightly. Our engineers work very hard assessing the capability of the infrastructure facing that record heat, and we decided that we had no choice but to close it.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the it was difficult for the UK’s rail network to cope with the high temperature.
“The simple answer is no, the network cannot cope with the heat right now,” he told BBC Breakfast. “In 40C heat, tracks can reach 50C, 60C, and even 70C, and there’s a severe danger of tracks buckling and a terrible derailing.”
“We are building new specifications, creating overhead lines that can withstand higher temperatures. But with the best will in the world, this is infrastructure which has taken decades to build, with some of our railways stretching back 200 years,” he added.