Britain is under a heat warning – reportedly stretching from London in the south to Leeds and Manchester in the north – as the mercury climbs to record levels amid an intense heat wave plaguing Europe.
Some reports say the temperature climbed to 40.2 Celsius (104 F) in Britain on Tuesday, with other media reporting a high of 40.3 C (104.5). The high temperatures break a record of 38.7 C (101.7 F) set in 2019.
Due to the heat, fires are blazing in major cities, including in the London area. Elsewhere, in the West Midlands area, a fire forced the evacuation of more than a dozen people.
Households are turning off their washing machines in an attempt to conserve water for future use.
London has seen fewer people outside and on roads, instead trying to stay cool in the scorching heat. To avoid the sun, many tourist attractions, like the British Museum with a full glass ceiling, and outdoor activities have been canceled or closed early.
Airports have seen damaged runways due to the extreme weather, while Britain’s Network Rail has warned passengers not to travel north of London. The rail system says on its website that buckled rails are reported and overhead wire systems are failing.
Hospitals, the Supreme Court, and other public buildings are feeling the high temperatures. Buildings are either having air conditioning outages or don’t have air conditioning at all.
“Infrastructure, much of it built in Victorian times, just wasn’t built to withstand this type of temperature,” said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
While members of the public have been seeking ways to cool off, authorities are warning people not to swim in open waters, citing fatalities.
Many other countries across Europe are experiencing the same extremes in weather. Cities in Spain and Portugal are feeling the effects of record-breaking temperatures as fires erupt throughout their cities. Over 750 heat-related deaths have been recorded in Spain and Portugal, said the Associated Press.
Climate experts believe the high temperatures are warnings of climate change progressing more quickly, something they say will risk the lives of European citizens for the next 30 years.
A professor of hydrology at the University of Reading, Hannah Cloke, said the record high temperature was a “grim milestone” and a “slide into unknown territory for humanity as we heat our planet,” reported The Guardian newspaper.
Climate experts also believe the extreme temperatures will continue across Europe for years to come.