The Met Office has issued the first-ever Red Extreme Heat warning for exceptional heat in the UK, forecasting that next week temperatures could reach 40°C (104 Fahrenheit).
The national severe weather warning covers Monday and Tuesday (18th and 19th July) for parts of central, northern, eastern and southeastern England.
Exceptional heat is expected to affect a large part of England early next week, with temperatures likely in the high 30s C in some places and perhaps even reaching 40°C.
An Amber Extreme heat warning has been in place for much of England and Wales for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday (17th – 19th July) since earlier this week. Today the amber areas are also being extended to cover Cornwall, west Wales and parts of southern Scotland.
“Currently there is a 50% chance we could see temperatures top 40°C and 80% we will see a new maximum temperature reached,” Met Office Chief Meteorologist Paul Gundersen said.
Gundersen said nights are also likely to be “exceptionally warm, especially in urban areas” and 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,” he said.
The step up in warning level to red is running parallel to an increase in the current Heat Health Warning to Level 4 for England by the UK Health Security Agency.
Temperatures are expected to start to return closer to normal for the time of year from the middle of next week onwards as cooler air pushes across the country from the west.
Dr. Nikos Christidis, climate scientist at the Met Office, said a recent study found that the likelihood of extremely hot days in the UK has been increasing and will continue to do so during the course of the century, with the most extreme temperatures expected to be observed in the southeast of England.
“Climate change has already influenced the likelihood of temperature extremes in the UK. 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. The likelihood of exceeding 40°C anywhere in the UK in a given year has also been rapidly increasing, and, even with current pledges on emissions reductions, such extremes could be taking place every 15 years in the climate of 2100,” Christidis said.
A recent Met Office study found that summers which see days above 40°C somewhere in the UK have a return time of 100-300 years at present, even with current pledges on emissions reductions this can decrease to 15 years by 2100.
Extreme heat events do occur within natural climate variation due to changes in global weather patterns. However, the increase in the frequency, duration and intensity of these events over recent decades is “clearly linked to the observed warming of the planet and can be attributed to human activity,” according to the Met Office.
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