UK weather: Heat health alert issued ahead of heatwave

·3 min read

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has issued a heat health alert for all regions of England as the country braces itself for another heatwave.

The Met Office said a heatwave is highly likely this week and that temperatures could rise to the low to mid-30Cs.

The UKHSA alert is in place from midday Tuesday 9 August to 6pm on Saturday 13 August. Experts are advising people to look out for those who are older or with existing health conditions, and young children.

Dr Agostinho Sousa, head of extreme events and health protection at the UKHSA, said: “Temperatures will feel very warm again this week, particularly in southern and central parts of the country.

“We want everyone to enjoy the warm weather safely when it arrives but remember that heat can have a fast impact on health. It’s important to ensure that people who are more vulnerable – elderly people who live alone and people with underlying health conditions – are prepared for coping during the hot weather.

“The most important advice is to ensure they stay hydrated, keep cool and take steps to prevent their homes from overheating.”

The latest heatwave will hit the UK after months of low rainfall, which has left the countryside and urban parks and gardens tinder-dry. Households in some areas are being urged not to light fires or have barbecues.

A number of water companies have already announced hosepipe bans and others have warned they may need to follow suit.

It follows the driest eight months from November to June since 1976, and the driest July on record for parts of southern and eastern England.

Heatwave thresholds are met at different temperatures in different parts of the country. The Met Office recently raised the temperatures that have to be reached for an official heatwave for eight English counties, to reflect the warming conditions in the UK.

Met Office deputy chief meteorologist Tony Wardle said: “Heatwave criteria look likely to be met for large areas of the UK later this week, with the hottest areas expected in central and southern England and Wales on Friday and Saturday.

“Temperatures could peak at 35C, or even an isolated 36C on Saturday.

“Elsewhere will see temperatures widely into the high 20s and low 30s Celsius later this week as temperatures build day on day through the week due to an area of high pressure extending over much of the UK.

“Coupled with the high daytime temperatures will be continued warm nights, with the mercury expected to drop to only around low 20s Celsius for some areas in the south.”

Scientists warn that the likelihood of droughts occurring is becoming higher due to climate change, driven by greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels and other human activities.

The climate crisis is also making heatwaves more intense, frequent and likely – with last month’s record temperatures made at least 10 times more likely because of global warming, and “virtually impossible” without it, research shows.

Additional reporting by PA