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Europe Heat wave: UK Records Hottest-Ever Night, Braces for More Record Temperatures

Much of Western Europe continues to bake in extreme heat, with the UK expected to record its hottest day on record and wildfires burning through forests in southern France. Relief is expected later in the week.
The sun rises on what could be the hottest day ever recorded in the UK

The sun rises on what could be the hottest day ever recorded in the UK

The United Kingdom has provisionally recorded its warmest-ever night, with temperatures in some regions remaining above 25 degrees Celsius (77 Fahrenheit) from Monday to Tuesday, according to the Met Office weather agency.

Meteorologists said daytime temperatures on Tuesday could break the UK's all-time record high of 38.7 Celsius (101.7 Fahrenheit), which was set in 2019.

"Forty-one isn't off the cards,'' said Met Office CEO Penelope Endersby. "We've even got some 43s in the model, but we're hoping it won't be as high as that.''

On Monday, British officials issued the UK's first-ever extreme heat emergency, extending from London in the south to Manchester and Leeds in the north. Train services were disrupted by buckled rails, and more travel disruption is expected on Tuesday.

"We're probably going to see the hottest day ever in the UK recorded today," Transport Minister Grant Shapps told the BBC. "Infrastructure, much of which was built from the Victorian times, just wasn't built to withstand this type of temperature."

The mercury reached 38.1 Celsius on Monday in Suffolk, in eastern England, which was hottest temperature recorded in the UK this year, and the third-hottest day on record.

Average July temperatures in the UK range from a highs of 21 degrees Celsius to nighttime lows of 12 degrees, and few homes or small businesses have air conditioning.

Rail services in the UK are expected to be interrupted on Tuesday

Rail services in the UK are expected to be interrupted on Tuesday.

Wildfires in France 

On the other side of English Channel, several towns and cities in France recorded their highest-ever temperatures on Monday. Saint-Brieuc, on the normally temperate coast of Brittany, topped 39.5 C. The western city of Nantes recorded 42 C, beating a decades-old high of 40.3 C set in 1949.

In southwestern France's Gironde region, two large wildfires raging for a week across dry pine forests have forced the evacuation of 32,000 people and destroyed over 19,000 hectares (46,000 acres) of forest. Fire officials said strong winds and heat are fanning the flames, despite the deployment of waterbombing aircraft.

Tinder-dry pine forests have been burning for a week in the coastal region south of Bordeaux

Tinder-dry pine forests have been burning for a week in the coastal region south of Bordeaux

The blaze was literally "blowing things up" with its ferocity, said Marc Vermeulen, head of the local firefighting service, adding that exploding trees were scattering embers and spreading the blaze further. "We're facing extreme and exceptional circumstances,'' he said.

French weather channel La Chaine Meteo reported Tuesday that conditions in the affected regions are forecast to improve over the next 48 hours, with an eastern wind from the Atlantic bringing thunderstorms and cooler temperatures. 

How is the heat affecting other European regions?

Further south in Spain, wildfires in the northwestern Zamora province have claimed two lives. The body of a 69-year-old sheep farmer was found Monday in the same area where a 62-year-old firefighter had died Sunday.

On Tuesday, the EFE news agency reported that 5,800 people were ordered evacuated from 34 towns in Zamora, and eight roads in the region have been closed. 

Spain's El Pais newspaper reported Tuesday that wildfires have burned a total of over 60,000 hectares across the country. Twenty out of the 30 fires in Spain remain uncontrolled. 

Areas of Germany have also raised forest fire alert levels, as temperatures in parts of the country are expected to reach 40 C. In 10 of Germany's 16 states, predominately in the south, west and northeast, the highest of five alert stages has been issued. 

The Bavarian forestry minister has called on the public to be especially careful when walking through forests, warning that even a single cigarette butt can ignite an inferno.

Courtesy: DW

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