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UK to swelter in 34C temperatures as warm spell turns to heatwave

UK to swelter in 34C temperatures as warm spell turns to heatwave
Health agency warns weather poses threat to vulnerable people

The UK is set to swelter as temperatures climb up to 34C today, officially marking the first heatwave of the year as an early warm spell continues.

London, the southeast and possibly some parts of East Anglia are expected to be hottest, while most of England and Wales will see temperatures from 27-30C – hotter than parts of Jamaica and the Maldives.

Though Scotland will be cooler, southeastern parts of the country could see highs of 20C.

Health officials and experts have warned that vulnerable people such as the elderly and chronically ill are at risk in the hottest areas. Meanwhile, public transport operators have reminded people to take a bottle of water when travelling on Britain’s road and rail networks.

The UK Health Security Agency and the Met Office have issued a Level 3 heat health alert for London, the southeast and the East of England while a Level 2 alert remains in place for much of the rest of southern England and parts of the Midlands.

Dr Vikki Thompson, climate scientist at the University of Bristol Cabot Institute for the Environment, said: “Heatwaves are one of the most deadly natural hazards, in the UK 3,000 deaths were linked to heatwaves in 2021.

“The health issues related to heat include direct effects, such as heat stroke and cardiovascular failure, and indirect effects including poorer mental health and an increase in accidents such as car crashes and drownings.”

<p>Sunbathers applying sunscreen on Towan beach in Newquay, Cornwall on Thursday</p>

Sunbathers applying sunscreen on Towan beach in Newquay, Cornwall on Thursday

Friday is forecast to be the hottest day of the year so far, the third consecutive day to reach the highest temperature yet recorded in 2022.

Meteorologists said this week’s weather is hotter than usual for June, though similar temperatures have been reached around this time in recent years.

Alex Burkill from the Met Office told The Independent: “It is going to be very hot on Friday and exceptionally hot for this time of year.

<p>People sunbathe as they enjoy the hot weather on Bridlington beach on the Yorkshire coast</p>

People sunbathe as they enjoy the hot weather on Bridlington beach on the Yorkshire coast

“If you go back to the 60s we only have three instances where temperatures have exceeded 34C in June: 76, 2019 and 2017.

“So although we’ve had a few instances recently if you look back further it’s a much more rare event.”

Britain’s highest recorded June temperature was 35.6C at Southampton Mayflower Park in June 1976 and forecasters do not expect that high to be surpassed this week.

Many scientists fear the recent heat will be more common at this time of year in future due to climate change. Though they warn the country has not yet learned to deal with sustained high temperatures.

<p>A woman walks trough Kings Meadow, Cambridge in full bloom on Thursday</p>

A woman walks trough Kings Meadow, Cambridge in full bloom on Thursday

Prof Hannah Cloke, of the University of Reading, said: “Despite the official warnings, some people still underestimate the effects of heat and don’t change their plans to take it into account.

“We need to consider how people react to the current warnings, and continue to improve them. A warning system that people ignore is next to useless.

“Thousands of people already die due to excess heat in the UK, and climate change will only make heatwaves more frequent and more extreme in the future. Let’s not wait for people to die before we take heatwaves seriously.”