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News > World

Hottest Day in UK History Puts Pressure on Public Services

  • Fire induced by heat wave, London, U.K, July 19, 2022.

    Fire induced by heat wave, London, U.K, July 19, 2022. | Photo: Twitter/ @WorkPsychol

Published 19 July 2022

At midday on Tuesday, the mercury rose to 40.2 degrees Celsius at London Heathrow -- a new record, according to the Met Office.

The United Kingdom had its hottest day on record on Tuesday with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius in some places. The sweltering heat put the country's transport and medical services to a severe test.


Countries in Northern Hemisphere Swelter in Severe Heat

At midday on Tuesday, the mercury rose to 40.2 degrees Celsius at London Heathrow -- a new record, according to the Met Office, the country's national weather service. The previous record was 38.7 degrees Celsius recorded at Cambridge Botanic Garden in July 2019.

In Wales, Monday was declared the hottest day on record. At 4 p.m., the temperature reached 37.1 degrees Celsius in the village of Hawarden in northeast Wales, beating the previous highest temperature of 35.2 degrees recorded in August 1990.

In several places across the UK, the average daytime maximum temperatures remained above 25 degrees Celsius on Monday. The previous record, set in August 1990, was 23.9 degrees Celsius.


Network Rail, owner and manager of most of the country's railway infrastructure, has updated its travel advice for services heading north out of London from "weather warning red zone" to "do not travel."

The company said its hottest rail track recorded on Monday was 62 degrees Celsius in Suffolk County in eastern England. Temperatures on rails can rise to 20 degrees Celsius higher than air temperature, sometimes causing them to expand, bend and break. Several rail services had to be closed and a speed limit imposed.

In Cambridgeshire, a section of a major trunk road warped in the heat, local police said on Tuesday. "Unfortunately, the road surface isn't coping well in this heat," they said, adding that it is "potentially very dangerous."

At London Luton Airport, a base for airlines like EasyJet and Ryanair, flights were temporarily suspended on Monday afternoon to allow for a runway repair after high surface temperatures caused a "small section" of it to lift up.

Citing the "extreme temperatures," the UK's Royal Air Force said on Monday that instead of its Brize Norton air base in Oxfordshire, its aircraft were using alternative airfields.


Visits to the heat exhaustion section of the National Health Service (NHS) website have increased by 525 percent in the past week, NHS Digital SAID on Tuesday. There were 86,914 visits in 48 hours last weekend, an average of one visit every two seconds.

"The likelihood is that with climate change, these temperatures could become increasingly common and even an annual occurrence," Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, a membership body for organizations that commission and provide NHS services, said on Monday.

Ambulance calls have increased significantly and certain hospitals had to pause outpatient appointments to prioritize urgent care, Taylor said. "The next few days will stretch the health service to the maximum."

"Our buildings and estate are ill equipped to deal with these kinds of temperatures and a lack of capital investment in the NHS over the last ten years means we have very little resilience left to deal with crisis situations like this," the chief executive added.

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