UK temperature tops 40 C for 1st time, as Heathrow passes 104 F

The U.K. also experienced its hottest night on record on Monday.

July 19, 2022, 1:33 PM

LONDON -- The U.K. on Tuesday posted its highest temperature on record, breaking 40 degrees Celsius for the first time, after government officials declared a national emergency and issued unprecedented health warnings.

"London Heathrow reported a temperature of 40.2°C at 12:50 today," the Met Office said.

The Met Office earlier on Tuesday had provisionally recorded a record-breaking temperature of 39.1 degrees Celsius (102.38 Fahrenheit) in the village of Charlwood, England.

At least 29 observation sites in England broke the country's previous all-time record of 38.7 degrees Celsius, according to the Met Office.

Scotland set a record for its hottest day ever as well, according to the Met Office, as it reached 34.8 degrees Celsius (94.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in Scottish Borders. That was nearly 2 degrees higher than the previous record of 32.9 degrees Celsius from Aug. 9, 2003.

Monday night saw the U.K. experience the hottest night on record, the Met Office said.

For the first time, the Met Office has issued a "Red warning" in response to the extraordinary heat.

The heat wave in Britain, which has been linked to climate change, follows a weekend of wildfires and soaring deadly temperatures in France, Portugal and Spain.

PHOTO: A man sits on a bench on the south bank of river Thames, in London, on July 18, 2022.
A man sits on a bench on the south bank of river Thames, in London, on July 18, 2022.
Alberto Pezzali/AP Photo

Thousands have been forced to flee wildfires in southern France and Spain, and more than 1,000 deaths have been linked to the heat wave in Portugal and Spain since earlier in July by the countries' respective health ministries. France could experience its hottest day on record on Monday, according to local media.

PHOTO: A firefighter creates a tactical fire in Louchats, France, as wildfires continue to spread in the Gironde region, on July 17, 2022.
A firefighter creates a tactical fire in Louchats, France, as wildfires continue to spread in the Gironde region, on July 17, 2022.
Sarah Meyssonnier/Reuters

The previous hottest day on record in the U.K. stood at 38.7 Celsius (101.6 Fahrenheit).

"Nights are also likely to be exceptionally warm, especially in urban areas," the Met Office's Chief Meteorologist Paul Gundersen said in a statement. "This is likely to lead to widespread impacts on people and infrastructure. Therefore, it is important people plan for the heat and consider changing their routines. This level of heat can have adverse health effects."

Government scientists have warned that the frequency, intensity and duration of similar heat waves will increase in the coming century as the world continues to experience the effects of climate change.

PHOTO: A cyclist rides through Richmond Park at sunrise during a heatwave in London, on July 18, 2022.
A cyclist rides through Richmond Park at sunrise during a heatwave in London, on July 18, 2022.
Hannah Mckay/Reuters

 "We hoped we wouldn't get to this situation but for the first time ever we are forecasting greater than 40°C in the U.K.," Dr. Nikos Christidis, a climate attribution scientist at the Met Office, said. "Climate change has already influenced the likelihood of temperature extremes in the U.K. The chances of seeing 40°C days in the UK could be as much as 10 times more likely in the current climate than under a natural climate unaffected by human influence."

Despite the heat, schools are expected to remain open. However, there are concerns that U.K. infrastructure is ill-equipped to deal with such weather events. While offices are generally equipped with air-conditioning, only a small number of homes have air-conditioning units.

PHOTO: Commuters wait for their train on a platform at West Norwood station in south London, on July 18, 2022, amid disruption warnings over extreme heat.
Commuters wait for their train on a platform at West Norwood station in south London, on July 18, 2022, amid disruption warnings over extreme heat.
Niklas Halle'n/AFP via Getty Images

One Met Office meteorologist, Steven Keates, warned that the heat was not something to celebrate.

"This is not just another heat wave," Keates told The Telegraph. "This is dangerous heat, because we're not used to it. It's simple --our infrastructure is not geared up for weather like this."

"Do as little as possible," he added. "Because heat is fatiguing and we are in slightly uncharted territory."

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