European heat wave: UK breaks records

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Britain hit a new record for the highest temperature ever registered on Tuesday amid a sweltering European heat wave.

According to the country’s weather office, the nation hit a provisional reading of 40.2 degrees Celsius (104.4 degrees Fahrenheit) at London Heathrow Airport.

“For the first time ever, 40 Celsius has provisionally been exceeded in the UK. London Heathrow reported a temperature of 40.2 degrees Celsius at 12:50 today,” the office tweeted.

Forecasters cautioned that temperatures were still expected to rise.

The record was also broken earlier in the day in Charlwood, England, with a provisional temperature of 102.4 F.

Until Tuesday, the previous record of 101.7 F was set in 2019

In addition, the U.K.’s Met Office also reported that provisional figures showed the temperature remained above 77 F overnight in parts of the country for the first time.

At least five people were reported to have drowned in the U.K. – attempting to cool off rivers, lakes and reservoirs.

The conditions have impacted travel, health care and education, and much of England remained under the country’s first warning of “extreme” heat.

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The runway at London’s Luton Airport was forced to close due to heat damage. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Britain’s infrastructure “just wasn’t built to withstand this type of temperature – and it will be many years before [the country] can replace infrastructure with the kind of infrastructure that could.”

Outside the U.K., arid and hot weather has sparked wildfires and led to hundreds of heat-related deaths.

A wildfire in France – which is suspected to have been deliberate – and another accidental fire southwest of Bordeaux have spread over 70 square miles, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee their homes.

A July European Commission’s Joint Research Centre report published Monday found that 44% of the European Union and U.K. are exposed to warning drought levels, with 9% exposed to alert drought levels.

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