Orange warning: Extreme heat forecast for UK and Western Europe


The UK is bracing for sweltering temperatures late this weekend into early next week, with widespread highs of 90-95 degrees (32-35 degrees Celsius) and a few highs of up to 100 (38 degrees Celsius ). The UK Met Office has issued extreme heat alerts – or amber warnings – for much of England and parts of Wales, where temperatures could approach unprecedented highs.

Extreme heat has already spread to Portugal, Spain and France, where highs have reached triple digits, and the worst is yet to come. Heat index values, which take humidity into account, could exceed 115 degrees (46 degrees Celsius).

The amber warning includes London, which is bracing for temperatures above 90 degrees (32 degrees Celsius) by Monday. Although it might not feel hot by US standards, Met Office forecaster Craig Snell said it was around 18 degrees (10 degrees Celsius) warmer than London’s average high temperature in mid-July.

“We have a big pool of hot air across Spain and Portugal at the moment. As we go into Sunday a door will open and it will head into the UK giving a boost to the UK already hot,” Snell said.

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The highest recorded temperature for the UK is 101.7 degrees (38.7 Celsius), which was set in Cambridge in 2019. Snell said there was a 30 per cent chance this record would be broken .

It is the second case of excessive heat in Western Europe in recent weeks, as human-induced climate change fuels higher temperatures.

Portugal, Spain and France

Portugal, Spain and France are facing a prolonged episode of unusually high temperatures, which began earlier this week.

In France, the heat will last until Tuesday. Thirty-one departments across the country are on some form of heat alert, and the government is reactivating a hotline for residents with questions or concerns about the heat.

“The thermometer is soaring this afternoon,” wrote Météo-France, the national equivalent of the National Weather Service, in an online forecast discussion on Tuesday. “It displays 23 to 28 degrees [73 to 82 Fahrenheit] on the Channel coast, but everywhere else the highs are generally between 32 and 36 degrees [89.6 to 96.8 Fahrenheit]with locally up to 37/38 degrees [99 to 100 Fahrenheit] in the South-West and in the heart of the Rhone Valley. The heat wave will last several days in the south of the country.

In the Rhone Valley, temperatures over the next few days could reach 104 degrees (40 degrees Celsius). In Paris, highs could well hit the 90s early next week, while the average high is closer to 77 (25 degrees Celsius). Forecasts from a high of 100 degrees (38 Celsius) on Tuesday.

The island of Yeu off the west coast of France on Monday equaled a record for the hottest temperature on record, having reached 95.4 degrees (35.2 degrees Celsius).

Sixteen of Portugal’s 18 districts are subject to high-level red heat alerts; the other two are under yellow or orange alert. Santarém, the capital of the district of the same name, is expected to reach 113 degrees (45 degrees Celsius) on Wednesday. The hottest temperature ever recorded in the country was 117.3 degrees Fahrenheit in Amareleja on August 1, 2003.

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In Spain, an “extreme risk” of heat justified the issuance of a red alert on Wednesday for Campiña Sevillana and Vegas de Guadiana, where maximum temperatures are expected to peak at 44 degrees Celsius (111 Fahrenheit). Spain has 50 provinces; the rest are mostly under “significant” orange heat alerts and lesser yellow alerts.

In Madrid, the maximum is expected to hover near record highs or around 105 degrees (41 degrees Celsius) throughout the weekend.

It will take until late at the weekend or early next week for the heat to reach the UK

“From Sunday, but more likely Monday, maximum high temperatures could exceed 35°C [95 Fahrenheit], probably central and south-eastern England. Elsewhere highs will generally range from 20 to 30 degrees Celsius [80 to 90 Fahrenheit]said Met Office deputy chief meteorologist Dan Harris in a Press release. is calling for London to hit 90 on Monday and 95 on Tuesday.

Some places, including central London, will not see lows drop below 70 degrees (21 degrees Celsius) overnight. Coming out of a day in the 90s, this results in homes that can struggle to get below 75 or 80 degrees (24 or 27 degrees Celsius), especially since very few UK households have The air conditioning.

“Adverse population-wide health effects are likely to be experienced, not limited to those most vulnerable to extreme heat, resulting in potential serious illness or life threatening,” the Met wrote. Office in its warning.

A few computer models have simulated temperatures as high as 104 degrees (40 degrees Celsius) in the UK, which would shatter its all-time high, but the Met Office notes the potential has dwindled.

“Some models produced maximum temperatures above 40°C [104 degrees Fahrenheit] in parts of the UK over the coming weekend and beyond,” Harris said in the Met Office press release. “Recent evidence suggests the odds have diminished.”

Still, he added, a few places could see highs in the upper 30 degrees Celsius, or either side of 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

The heat will ease over the UK and France by the middle of next week, but will spread to central Europe, scorching Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Austria and the Czech Republic on Wednesday and Thursday.

What causes the heat?

The heat inducement is something called a “low cut” or a low pressure system that has been pinched by the jet stream. It’s analogous to paddling a boat in a pond and watching a whirlpool break away from the oar and continue spinning aimlessly. In this case, the depression is a self-sustaining whirlwind of counter-clockwise winds wrapped around a high-altitude cold lobe that swirls a few hundred kilometers southwest of Portugal over the Atlantic. northeast open.

Because it’s no longer nestled in a dip in the jet stream and then shuttles from west to east, there’s nothing to really drive it forward. As a result, the cut-off low will spend days hanging in place and rotating, with southerly winds on the eastern side of the system pumping African heat north towards Western Europe and the UK.

While the heat will gradually ease from west to east across Europe next week, this is the latest of several heat spells across Europe that have been exacerbated by human-induced climate change. Although human influence is not the cause of the hot weather, it does tip the balance toward more frequent, intense, and prolonged heat waves.

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It’s been just over three years since an unprecedented heat wave ignited Europe, sending temperatures soaring. Paris reached a record high of 109 degrees (42.8 Celsius). Last month, a heat wave set hundreds of records across Europe.

Snell said the Met Office tracks the number of years the UK has reached 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) in a single day. Since the 1970s, this has happened nine times, including four in the past decade. “It shows how the frequency of hot weather in the UK is increasing,” he said. “The frequency of these heat waves across Western Europe will increase as climate change continues.”

Karla Adam reported from London.

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