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Britain on track for hottest day on record

Britain on track for hottest day on record
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LONDON, July 18 (Reuters) – Britain was on course for its hottest day on record on Monday, with temperatures that would reach 40C for the first time, forcing train companies to suspend services and some schools to close close while ministers urged the public to stay home.

Much of Europe is burning in a heatwave that has pushed temperatures to the mid-40s Celsius (over 110 Fahrenheit) in some regions, with wildfires raging across the tinder-dry landscape of Portugal, Spain and France. Continue reading

The UK government declared a “national emergency” as temperatures on Monday and Tuesday were expected to surpass the 38.7C (102F) recorded in 2019 at the University of Cambridge Botanic Gardens.

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Readings of almost 35C were recorded around midday in southern England.

“We have a difficult 48 hours ahead of us,” Kit Malthouse, a minister in charge of government coordination, told BBC radio. He will later chair a meeting of the government’s emergency committee.

The national rail network urged passengers not to travel unless necessary and said some services – including a key route between north-east England and London – would not operate during parts of Tuesday.

The London Underground network imposed temporary speed restrictions, meaning it would operate a reduced service, with journeys taking longer than normal. She urged commuters to stay home.

Network Rail’s Jake Kelly said he hoped normal services would resume on Wednesday when temperatures were expected to drop, but that would depend on “the damage the weather is doing to infrastructure over the next few days”.

HIGH ALERT LEVEL

The government has urged schools to remain open, but many are expected to close earlier than usual, normal uniform demands have been dropped and end-of-school sports days have been cancelled. Some schools have been closed and resorted to lockdown-style online teaching.

The public has been warned not to swim in open water to cool off. Police in north-east England said on Monday they had recovered a body believed to be that of a 13-year-old boy who got into trouble in a river.

At least one major zoo in Chester said it would close for two days, while London Zoo and Whipsnade Zoo said many animals could retire to “cool zones” and some exhibits may be closed.

Some factories have also brought their hours forward to prevent workers in the hottest jobs, like welding, from getting sick.

The Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has raised the heat health warning for England to Level 4 for Monday and Tuesday for the first time ever.

The British Meteorological Office defines a Level 4 alert as a national emergency to be used when a heatwave is “so severe and/or prolonged that its impacts go beyond the health and welfare systems. At this stage, disease and death can occur fit and healthy, and not just in at-risk groups.”

The Met Office said “significant” changes in work practices and daily routines would be required, and there was a high risk of failure of heat-sensitive systems and equipment, potentially leading to a local blackout of electricity, water or cellphone service.

Malthouse said the government is prepared for the extreme weather and will try to learn lessons from it.

“We definitely need to adapt the way we build buildings, the way we work and look at some of our infrastructure in light of what seems to be increasing the frequency of these types of events,” he said.

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reporting by Kate Holton and Michael Holden; Edited by William Schomberg and Alex Richardson

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Policy.

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