A Level Three heatwave warning has been issued by the Met Office for this weekend, meaning there is a 90 per cent probability of heat-health criteria bring met between Thursday and Sunday as temperatures are expected to reach 37C in some areas.
The Met Office said the very hot and dry conditions developing across southern areas will start to sweep warm air northwards from the continent on Thursday, after a cloudy start for most.
Friday is expected to be particularly scorching, with temperatures “widely reaching 30C or higher in central, southern and some northern parts of England”, said Met Office meteorologist Dan Suri.
“It is likely to be hotter still in southeast England where 34C to 37C is possible. Saturday will likely be another hot day for southern and central parts of the UK, with heatwave conditions possibly being met in parts of southeast England and East Anglia,” he added.
31 July was the hottest day of the year so far, with the highest temperature recorded at 37.8C in Heathrow. The Coastguard reported its busiest day for more than four years as it dealt with over 300 incidents and has warned people planning to visit a beach or the coast to “follow beach safety advice”.
Gareth Morrison, RNLI head of water safety, said: “Our coastline is a fantastic place to spend time together as a family, especially when the sun is out and it’s hot.
“But there are also plenty of potential dangers, especially for those who aren’t fully aware of their surroundings and may be visiting a particular beach for the first time.”
The very hot conditions are expected to last until Sunday, but may even continue until Monday as result of southerly winds moving from Europe and parts of northern Africa.
Councils across the country jointly issued a plea for members of the public to maintain social distancing and keep an eye on vulnerable or elderly family and friends during the heatwave.
The Local Government Association (LGA) said in a statement: “The ‘rush to the sun’ following easing of lockdown restrictions in recent weeks has become a serious challenge for councils responsible for beach safety.
“People should think carefully before travelling to beaches and to get in the habit of checking they are open and safe to visit.”
The LGA also called on the government to provide guidance to the public about visiting beaches safety and fast-track funding for beach patrols, additional toilets and prominent signage.
Councillor Richard Kemp, vice chair of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, added: “People will understandably want to enjoy the sunshine. However, when large numbers of people head to the coast and tourist spots there is inevitably a risk of overcrowding and an increase in the rate at which Covid-19 could be transmitted.
“Lives depend on all of us taking personal responsibility for our actions to avoid a resurgence of this deadly virus that puts further lives at risk.”