The capital’s temperature could soar to its highest level ever recorded during the next two days as a new week begins with a national emergency declared, a red “extreme heat” warning issued for the first time, Transport for London advising passengers to travel only if essential and forecasters anticipating that the heat in the city could touch 40 degrees centigrade.
Sadiq Khan has underlined that the rising heatwave presents what City Hall calls “a serious risk to life” even among the fit and healthy, and health and emergency services are braced for a surge in demand.
The Mayor on Friday convened a meeting of an advisory group of officials from the National Health Service, the London Ambulance Service, the Metropolitan Police, the London Fire Brigade, London Councils and TfL to discuss plans to deal with the weather’s effects. The ambulance service has already described itself as being under “extreme pressure“.
Khan has also issued a “high” air pollution alert for today following Imperial College experts anticipating high levels of ozone forming from the interaction of strong sunshine and airborne pollutants.
The heatwave will be a further big test to the city’s resilience arrangements following the sustained Covid pandemic and amid a recent rise in cases of the virus, though these are still well below the levels seen in the spring. Many people are expected to work for home and some schools may be closed today and tomorrow.
The highest temperature recorded by the Met Office in Greater London is 38.1 degrees, as measured by its monitoring station at Kew on 1o August 2003. On the same day, the Heathrow station recorded 37.9 degrees, Enfield 37.8, Northolt 37.7, St James’s 37.6, Greenwich Observatory 37.5 and Northwood 37.0 (pages four and five).
The most noted national heatwave of the post-war era was in 1976, when temperatures recorded at Heathrow topped 30 degrees for 16 days in a row during June and July and the country suffered a severe drought.
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