LONDON: As the heatwave sweeping Europe reached its peak on Tuesday, Britain saw its warmest day on record, with temperatures reaching above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), causing railway lines to break and fueling a rash of fires throughout London.
The Met Office said that the temperature at Coningsby, central England, reached a new preliminary record of 40.3C (104.5F), with 34 sites throughout the UK experiencing temperatures above the previous high of 38.7C (101.7F) recorded in 2019.
Met Office meteorologist Stephen Belcher said he had never seen Britain experienced such high temperatures in his professional life. “Research undertaken here at the Met Office has proved that the UK can’t experience 40C in an undisrupted environment,” he said, adding that climate change fueled by greenhouse gases have made such severe temperatures conceivable.
Trains were not running on the main lines from London along the east and west coasts, power providers reported widespread blackouts, and the typically bustling city centers seemed deserted. On Twitter, Network Train posted many images of severely curved rail lines.
Hundreds of firemen fought fires around the capital, prompting the London Fire Brigade to declare a major incident and warn people to cease having barbecues.
Homes in the eastern town of Wennington burned in a massive blaze that also scorched about 40 hectares (100 acres) of parched, nearby fields. Large grassy areas outside of the capital city caught fire, sending clouds of smoke over adjacent highways and other key thoroughfares.
The London Ambulance Service reported receiving 400 calls per hour due to the high temperatures.
Peter Rhodes, the deputy director of ambulance operations, stated, “We are noticing an increase in the number of patients reporting heat exposure, breathing difficulty, dizziness, and fainting.”
Key transportation systems in Britain, which often struggle to operate in excessive heat or snow, had been declared an emergency due to the abnormally high temperatures. Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, took to Twitter to express his gratitude to the emergency personnel working to keep the country safe on such a hot day.