The U.K. has declared a national emergency as it braces for a heatwave after the United Kingdom’s National Severe Weather Warning Service issued its first ever “red” warning for extreme heat. Much of England is expected to experience record high heat of 104 degrees early next week.
British authorities are spreading the word on heat safety practices before the wave is expected to hit on Monday and Tuesday, such as maintaining hydration, keeping cool inside, staying out of the sun and following weather advisories closely. Environmental groups are gearing up to strengthen water conservation campaigns in response to increased water consumption and droughts in the U.K.
“Exceptional, perhaps record-breaking temperatures are likely early next week, quite widely across the red warning area on Monday, and focussed a little more east and north on Tuesday,” Chief Meteorologist, Paul Gundersen, said in a statement. “Nights are also likely to be exceptionally warm, especially in urban areas. 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.”
The Met Office defines a red heatwave as, “so severe and/or prolonged that its effects extend outside the health and social care system. At this level, illness and death may occur among the fit and healthy, and not just in high-risk groups.”
The colored warning system begins with the color green, which signals a minimum state of vigilance during the summer, yellow, the alert and readiness stage for potential heatwaves, amber, once heatwave temperatures have been reached and are predicted to continue, and then red, a national emergency. An amber warning had already been in place for July 17 through July 19 before being upgraded to red.
Heat is expected to return closer to normal levels in the U.K. by July 20, when a cold front passes through the country, however, scientists and environmentalists have concerns that the heat won’t be gone for long.
The British heatwave comes as blazing heat sweeps across Europe and wildfires burn large swaths of Portugal, Spain, Croatia and France. Officials reported that more than 1000 people have had to evacuate these regions, thousands of acres have burned down and drought risk is high.
“Climate change has already influenced the likelihood of temperature extremes in the U.K. The chances of seeing 40°C days in the U.K. could be as much as 10 times more likely in the current climate than under a natural climate unaffected by human influence,” Dr. Nikos Christidis, a climate attribution scientist at the Met Office, said in a report.
The European Union released a statement that climate change is behind the rising temperatures and dangerous heat, after nine hikers were killed in Marmolada, Italy from a glacier collapse. The Union predicts concern about further natural disasters and dire heat all summer.
“Statistics show that since 2017, we have the most intense, intense forest fires ever seen in Europe. And that we unfortunately expect the 2022 forest fire season could follow this trend,” EU Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič told legislators. “The tragic event in Marmolada is just the latest example of disasters linked to warmer temperatures and thus to climate change.”
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