UK breaks record for highest temperature as Europe sizzles

People escape the heatwave by taking a barbecue in a river near the village of Luss in Argyll and Bute on the west bank of Loch Lomond, Scotland, Monday July 18, 2022.
A member of the public walks a dog at Scammonden Reservoir in West Yorkshire, England, Monday, July 18, 2022 as reservoir levels dip dangerously low amid record high temperatures in the UK. Millions of people in Britain stayed home or sought shade Monday during the country's first-ever extreme heat warning, as hot, dry weather that has scorched mainland Europe for the past week moved north, disrupting travel, health care and schools.
Traffic crosses a bridge at Woodhead Resevoir in West Yorkshire, England, Monday, July 18, 2022 as water levels dip dangerously low amid record high temperatures in the UK. Millions of people in Britain stayed home or sought shade Monday during the country's first-ever extreme heat warning, as hot, dry weather that has scorched mainland Europe for the past week moved north, disrupting travel, health care and schools.
A British soldier, right, wearing a traditional bearskin hat, waits to be relieved from his stint as the guards are changed outside Buckingham Palace, during hot weather in London, Monday, July 18, 2022. The British government have issued their first-ever "red" warning for extreme heat. The alert covers large parts of England on Monday and Tuesday, when temperatures may reach 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) for the first time, posing a risk of serious illness and even death among healthy people, the U.K. Met Office, the country's weather service, said Friday. The British heat record is 38.7C (101.7F), set in 2019.
Some people cover their heads from the sun as they walk over the Millennium Bridge going over the River Thames, backdropped by the dome of St Paul's Cathedral, during hot weather in London, Monday, July 18, 2022. Britain's first-ever extreme heat warning is in effect for large parts of England as hot, dry weather that has scorched mainland Europe for the past week moves north, disrupting travel, health care and schools.
A member of F Company Scots Guards swelters in the heat during the Changing of the Guard ceremony on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace, central London, Tuesday July 19, 2022. Millions of people in Britain woke from the country’s warmest-ever night on Tuesday and braced for a day when temperatures could break records, as a heat wave scorching Europe walloped a country not built for such extremes
Britain_Heat_44140 A member of the Household Troop has a fan placed next to him at Horse Guards Parade in central London, Tuesday July 19, 2022. Millions of people in Britain woke from the country’s warmest-ever night on Tuesday and braced for a day when temperatures could break records, as a heat wave scorching Europe walloped a country not built for such extremes.
A man sits in a glas bowl in a fountain on the Southbank in London, Tuesday, July 19, 2022. Millions of people in Britain woke from the country's warmest-ever night on Tuesday and braced for a day when temperatures could break records, as a heat wave scorching Europe walloped a country not built for such extremes.
APTOPIX_Spain_Wildfire_96100 A resident looks as flames advance during a wildfire in Pumarejo de Tera in north western Spain, Monday, July 18, 2022. Firefighters battled wildfires raging out of control in Spain and France as Europe wilted under an unusually extreme heat wave that authorities in Madrid blamed for hundreds of deaths.
Firefighter try to extinguish flames as wildfire advance during a wildfire in Ferreras de Abajo in north western Spain, Monday, July 18, 2022. Firefighters battled wildfires raging out of control in Spain and France as Europe wilted under an unusually extreme heat wave that authorities in Madrid blamed for hundreds of deaths.
A sign a King's Cross railway station warns of train cancellations due to the heat in London, Tuesday, July 19, 2022. London's Kings Cross Station, one of the country's busiest rail hubs, was empty on Tuesday, with no trains on the busy east coast line connecting the capital to the north and Scotland. Millions of people in Britain woke from the country's warmest-ever night on Tuesday and braced for a day when temperatures could break records, as a heat wave scorching Europe walloped a country not built for such extremes.
Britain_Heat_02021 A railway worker hands out bottles of water to passengers at King's Cross railway station where there are train cancellations due to the heat in London, Tuesday, July 19, 2022. Millions of people in Britain woke from the country's warmest-ever night on Tuesday and braced for a day when temperatures could break records, as a heat wave scorching Europe walloped a country not built for such extremes.
A sign at Alexandra Palace train station saying no trains are running due to the hot weather, in London, Tuesday July 19, 2022. Millions of people in Britain woke from the country’s warmest-ever night on Tuesday and braced for a day when temperatures could break records, as a heat wave scorching Europe walloped a country not built for such extremes
France_Wildfires_14340 This photo provided by the fire brigade of the Gironde region (SDIS 33) shows a firefighter at work at a forest fire at La Test-de-Buch, southwestern France, late Monday, July 18, 2022. France scrambled more water-bombing planes and hundreds more firefighters to combat spreading wildfires that were being fed Monday by hot swirling winds from a searing heat wave broiling much of Europe.
France_Wildfires_19511 This photo provided by the fire brigade of the Gironde region (SDIS 33) shows firefighters unroll the fire hose at a forest fire at La Test-de-Buch, southwestern France, late Monday, July 18, 2022. France scrambled more water-bombing planes and hundreds more firefighters to combat spreading wildfires that were being fed Monday by hot swirling winds from a searing heat wave broiling much of Europe.
France_Wildfires_67030 Smoke laden with ashes coming from a giant wildfire consuming the thousand-year-old forest bordering the Dune du Pilat rises over the beach of Pilat sur Mer, southwestern France, Monday July 18, 2022. France scrambled more water-bombing planes and hundreds more firefighters to combat spreading wildfires that were being fed Monday by hot swirling winds from a searing heat wave broiling much of Europe.
France_Wildfires_38452 Swimmers walk on the Le Moulleau pier in Arcachon, southwestern France Monday July 18, 2022, as a large cloud of black smoke laden with ashes coming from a giant wildfire consuming the thousand-year-old forest bordering the Dune du Pilat fills the sky. France scrambled more water-bombing planes and hundreds more firefighters to combat spreading wildfires that were being fed Monday by hot swirling winds from a searing heat wave broiling much of Europe.
APTOPIX_Britain_Heat_61719 A man sunbathes backdropped by Tower Bridge in London, Tuesday July 19, 2022. Millions of people in Britain woke from the country's warmest-ever night and braced for a day when temperatures could break records. Britain is the latest to suffer a heat wave scorching Europe.
APTOPIX_France_Wildfires_89138 A couple stands on the Le Moulleau pier in Arcachon, southwestern France, late Monday July 18, 2022, as a large cloud of black smoke laden with ashes coming from a giant wildfire consuming the thousand-year-old forest bordering the Dune du Pilat fills the sky. France scrambled more water-bombing planes and hundreds more firefighters to combat spreading wildfires that were being fed Monday by hot swirling winds from a searing heat wave broiling much of Europe.
Britain_Heat_93437 A man refreshes his face at a fountain in Trafalgar Square in central London, Tuesday, July 19, 2022. Britain shattered its record for highest temperature ever registered Tuesday, with a provisional reading of 39.1 degrees Celsius (102.4 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the country's weather office — and the heat was only expected to rise.
Britain_Heat_81100 A man shields his eyes from the sun as he sunbathes backdropped by Tower Bridge in London, Tuesday July 19, 2022. Millions of people in Britain woke from the country's warmest-ever night and braced for a day when temperatures could break records. Britain is the latest to suffer a heat wave scorching Europe.
APTOPIX_Germany_Heat_68841 People paddles on the river Spree and pass the so called Badeschiff, Bathing Ship, pool in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, July 19, 2022. A heat wave with temeratures over 38 degrees celsius are expected for parts of Germany on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Netherlands_Heat_80165 As the Dutch capital baked in the heat, municipal workers sprayed water on bridges over the city's canals to prevent metal in the constructions expanding which can jam them shut blocking boat traffic, in Amsterdam, Tuesday, July 19, 2022.
APTOPIX_Britain_Heat_44422 A mother shelters her baby from the sun with an umbrella on Westminster Bridge in London, Tuesday, July 19, 2022. Britain shattered its record for highest temperature ever registered amid a heat wave that has seized swaths of Europe. The national weather forecaster predicted it would get hotter still Tuesday in a country ill prepared for such extremes.
Britain_Heat_60499 Members of the 'Australian cabaret and Circus troupe' cool down in a fountain on the Southbank in London, Tuesday, July 19, 2022. Britain shattered its record for highest temperature ever registered Tuesday, with a provisional reading of 39.1 degrees Celsius (102.4 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the country's weather office — and the heat was only expected to rise.
Spain_Wildfires_82924 A local resident fights a forest fire with a shovel during a wildfire in Tabara, north-west Spain, Tuesday, July 19, 2022. Firefighters battled wildfires raging out of control in Spain and France as Europe wilted under an unusually extreme heat wave that authorities in Madrid blamed for hundreds of deaths.
APTOPIX_France_Heat_64484 People cool down near the fountains of the Trocadero gardens in Paris as Europe is under an unusually extreme heat wave, Tuesday, July 19, 2022.
Greece_Wildfire_84990 A firefighter spays water in the mount of Penteli, on Tuesday, July 19, 2022. Fire Service officials said nine firefighting aircraft and four helicopters were deployed to try and stop the flames reaching inhabited areas on the slopes of Mount Penteli, some 25 kilometers (16 miles) northeast of the Athens.
Britain_Wildfires_17478 The scene of a blaze in the village of Wennington, east London, Tuesday, July 19, 2022. The typically temperate nation of England is the latest to be walloped by unusually hot, dry weather that has triggered wildfires from Portugal to the Balkans and led to hundreds of heat-related deaths.
Britain_Heat_62745 A swimmer in water in the Canary Wharf docklands in east London, Tuesday July 19, 2022. Britain shattered its record for highest temperature ever registered amid a heat wave that has seized swaths of Europe. The national weather forecaster predicted it would get hotter still Tuesday in a country ill prepared for such extremes.
Britain_Heat_00594 People crowd the beach in Brighton, England, Tuesday July 19, 2022. Britain shattered its record for highest temperature ever registered Tuesday, with a provisional reading of 39.1 degrees Celsius (102.4 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the country's weather office — and the heat was only expected to rise.
Chippy the chimpanzee enjoys an ice treat at Blair Drummond Safari and Adventure Park, near Stirling, England, Tuesday July 19, 2022. Millions of people in Britain woke from the country’s warmest-ever night on Tuesday and braced for a day when temperatures are forecast to hit 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), as a heat wave scorching Europe wallops a country more used to mild weather and rain.
Greece_Wildfires_27619 A firefighter sprays water in the Mount of Penteli, on Tuesday, July 19, 2022. Fire Service officials said nine firefighting aircraft and four helicopters were deployed to try and stop the flames reaching inhabited areas on the slopes of Mount Penteli, some 25 kilometers (16 miles) northeast of the Athens.
A man lays in the shade at a park in Wapping, east London, Tuesday July 19, 2022. Britain has recorded its warmest ever night, ahead of a day when temperatures are forecast to hit 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). The U.K.’s Met Office weather agency said provisional figures showed the temperature remained above 25 C (77 F) overnight in parts of the country for the first time.
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LONDON (AP) — Britain shattered its record for highest temperature ever registered Tuesday amid a heat wave that has seared swaths of Europe, as the U.K.’s national weather forecaster said such highs are now a fact of life in a country ill-prepared for such extremes.

The typically temperate nation was just the latest to be walloped by unusually hot, dry weather that has triggered wildfires from Portugal to the Balkans and led to hundreds of heat-related deaths. Images of flames racing toward a French beach and Britons sweltering — even at the seaside — have driven home concerns about climate change.

The U.K. Met Office weather agency registered a provisional reading of 40.3 degrees Celsius (104.5 degrees Fahrenheit) at Coningsby in eastern England — breaking the record set just hours earlier. Before Tuesday, the highest temperature recorded in Britain was 38.7 C (101.7 F), set in 2019. By later afternoon, 29 places in the UK had broken the record.

As the nation watched with a combination of horror and fascination, Met Office chief scientist Stephen Belcher said such temperatures in Britain were “virtually impossible” without human-driven climate change.

He warned that “we could see temperatures like this every three years” without serious action on carbon emissions.

The sweltering weather has disrupted travel, health care and schools. Many homes, small businesses and even public buildings, including hospitals, in Britain don’t have air conditioning, a reflection of how unusual such heat is in the country better known for rain and mild temperatures.

The intense heat since Monday has damaged the runway at London’s Luton airport, forcing it to shut for several hours, and warped a main road in eastern England, leaving it looking like a “skatepark,” police said. Major train stations were shut or near-empty Tuesday, as trains were canceled or ran at low speeds out of concern rails could buckle.

London faced what Mayor Sadiq Khan called a “huge surge” in fires because of the heat. The London Fire Brigade listed 10 major blazes it was fighting across the city Tuesday, half of them grass fires. Images showed several houses engulfed in flames as smoke billowed from burning fields in Wennington, a village on the eastern outskirts of London.

Sales of fans at one retailer, Asda, increased by 1,300%. Electric fans cooled the traditional mounted troops of the Household Cavalry as they stood guard in central London in heavy ceremonial uniforms. The length of the changing of the guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace was shortened. The capital’s Hyde Park, normally busy with walkers, was eerily quiet — except for the long lines to take a dip in the Serpentine lake.

“I’m going to my office because it is nice and cool,’’ said geologist Tom Elliott, 31, after taking a swim. “I’m cycling around instead of taking the Tube.’’

Ever the stalwart, Queen Elizabeth II carried on working. The 96-year-old monarch held a virtual audience with new U.S. ambassador Jane Hartley from the safety of Windsor Castle.

A huge chunk of England, from London in the south to Manchester and Leeds in the north, remained under the country’s first “red” warning for extreme heat Tuesday, meaning there is danger of death even for healthy people.

Such dangers could be seen in Britain and across Europe. At least six people were reported to have drowned while trying to cool off in rivers, lakes and reservoirs across the U.K. In Spain and neighboring Portugal, hundreds of heat-related deaths have been reported in the heat wave.

Climate experts warn that global warming has increased the frequency of extreme weather events, with studies showing that the likelihood of temperatures in the U.K. reaching 40 C (104 F) is now 10 times higher than in the pre-industrial era.

The head of the U.N. weather agency expressed hope that the heat gripping Europe would serve as a “wake-up call” for governments to do more on climate change. Other scientists used the milestone moment to underscore that it was time to act.

“While still rare, 40C is now a reality of British summers,” said Friederike Otto, Senior Lecturer in Climate Science at Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute for Climate Change. “Whether it will become a very common occurrence or remains relatively infrequent is in our hands and is determined by when and at what global mean temperature we reach net zero.”

Extreme heat broiled other parts of Europe, too. In Paris, the thermometer in the French capital’s oldest weather station – opened in 1873 – topped 40 C (104 F) for just the third time. The 40.5 C (104.9 F) measured there by weather service Meteo-France on Tuesday was the station’s second-highest reading ever, topped only by a blistering 42.6 C (108.7 F) in July 2019.

Drought and heat waves tied to climate change have also made wildfires more common and harder to fight.

In the Gironde region of southwestern France, ferocious wildfires continued to spread through tinder-dry pines forests, frustrating firefighting efforts by more than 2,000 firefighters and water-bombing planes.

Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from homes and summer vacation spots since the fires broke out July 12, Gironde authorities said.

A smaller third fire broke out late Monday in the Medoc wine region north of Bordeaux, further taxing resources. Five camping sites went up in flames in the Atlantic coast beach zone where blazes raged around the Arcachon maritime basin famous for its oysters and resorts.

In Greece, a large forest fire broke out northeast of Athens, fanned by high winds. Fire Service officials said nine firefighting aircraft and four helicopters were deployed to try to stop the flames from reaching inhabited areas on the slopes of Mount Penteli, some 25 kilometers (16 miles) northeast of the capital. Smoke from the fire blanketed part of the city’s skyline.

But weather forecasts offered some consolation, with temperatures expected to ease along the Atlantic seaboard Tuesday and the possibility of rains rolling in late in the day.

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Associated Press writers Sylvia Hui and Jo Kearney in London, John Leicester in Le Pecq, France, Mike Corder in The Hague, Netherlands, and Jamey Keaten in Geneva contributed to this story.

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Follow AP’s climate coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/climate-and-environment.

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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