People use the fountain at London’s Trafalgar Square to beat the heat. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
The UK has provisionally recorded its highest ever temperature on Tuesday: 102.4 °F (40.2 °C).
It was the first time the UK recorded a temperature over 102 °F (40 °C) per the Met Office, the official weather organization in Britain.
The reading was taken around London’s Heathrow Airport just before 1pm local time. Temperatures were forecast to rise further still through Tuesday afternoon.
The previous record was 101.6 °F (38.7 °C), from 2019. It was beaten Tuesday by a slew of readings in southern England over the 100-degree mark.
🌡️ For the first time ever, 40 Celsius has provisionally been exceeded in the UK
London Heathrow reported a temperature of 40.2°C at 12:50 today
— Met Office (@metoffice) July 19, 2022
The record came on the second day of extreme heat and followed the hottest-ever night in Britain.
The UK’s Met Office said Monday night was the hottest ever night recorded in the UK. It cited a minimum temperature of 78.4 °F (25.8 °C) in Kenly on the outskirts of London, though warned the reading may later be revised.
“This unprecedented red warning for extreme heat is a wake-up call about the climate emergency,” Prof Hannah Cloke, natural hazards researcher at the University of Reading, said in a Monday statement to the UK’s Science Media Center.
“Even as a climate scientist who studies this stuff, this is scary. This feels real,” she said.
The current heat wave was caused by hot air heading north from Africa, where it broke a slew of local heat records in European countries like France and Spain, and sparked a wave of devastating wildfires.
Zamora, Spain, registered a record 107.2 °F (41.8 °C) on Thursday, while two weather stations in Nîmes, France, recorded 104 °F (40 °C), the highest record for the city in July, per The Washington Post.
On Monday, Ireland measured 91.4 °F (33 °C) in Dublin, the highest since an 1887 record of 91.94 °F (33.3 °C).
According to the Carlos III Institute, there were 510 heat-related deaths in Spain from July 10 to July 16. There were 659 heat-related deaths recorded in Portugal over the week of July 11, per Reuters.
At least 16,000 people were evacuated in Gironde, France, because of large wildfires that have burnt over 32,000 acres of land, per the region’s press office.
The UK is not built for extreme heat, George Havenith, Professor of Environmental Physiology and Ergonomics of Loughborough University, recently told Insider.
“The heat could be extremely damaging in countries that have not been historically hit by high temperatures.”
“People here are not really trained to deal with the heat as somebody from a Southern country would.”
The heat wave “is another clear indicator that emissions of greenhouse gases by human activity are causing weather extremes that impact our living conditions,” Steven Pawson, chief of the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a press release.