The UK experienced its hottest night on record last night, with temperatures remaining in the mid-20s.
It comes as a potential high of 41C is forecast for today as the heatwave continues, amid growing travel chaos.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps acknowledged that the UK transport network could not cope with the extreme heat and said problems on rails and roads would continue for decades during such waves of heat.
The Met Office tweeted: “This was provisionally the hottest night on record in the UK.
After a very hot and uncomfortable night, temperatures will rise very quickly under strong sunshine over much of the country on Tuesday morning 🌡️📈
Clouds are starting to rise in the far south and west 🌥️ pic.twitter.com/XNxWrlfbJ6
— Met Office (@metoffice) July 18, 2022
“Temperatures did not fall below 25°C in places, surpassing the previous highest daily minimum record of 23.9°C, recorded at Brighton on August 3, 1990.”
A graph accompanying the tweet showed the highest recorded overnight minimum temperatures were 24.5C at Aberporth in West Wales, 25.8C at Kenley in the London Borough of Croydon and 25.9C at Emley Moor, near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.
— The Liverpool Guide 💙💛 (@TheGuideLpool) July 18, 2022
As the heat wave continues, Mr Shapps told people to ‘use common sense’ and ‘depending on the nature of your trip and the reason for it, you may want to consider rearranging your day accordingly’.
He told BBC Breakfast: ‘We have seen a considerable amount of travel disruption. We are likely to see the hottest day on record in the UK today, and the infrastructure, most of which was built in Victorian times, was simply not designed to withstand this kind of temperature – and it will be many years before we can replace infrastructure with the kind of infrastructure that could, because the temperatures are so extreme.
When asked if the transport system could cope with the weather, he replied: “The simple answer at the moment is no.
“Where these tracks are 40 degrees in the air, on the ground they could be 50, 60, 70 and more, so you are in serious danger of track deformation. What we can’t have are trains running over them and a terrible derailment.
“We have to be very careful and aware of this, which is why there are reduced speeds on large parts of the network.”
Asked how long it will take to upgrade the existing rail infrastructure to be more resilient, Mr Shapps told Sky News: “Decades, in fact, to replace everything.
“Same with tar on the roads.
“There is a long process of replacing and upgrading to withstand temperatures, either very hot or sometimes much colder than what we are used to, and these are the impacts of global warming.
On Monday, the temperature peaked at 38.1C at Santon Downham, Suffolk, making it the hottest day of the year and the third hottest day on record, after 38.7C at Cambridge in 2019 and 38.5C at Faversham, Kent in August 2003.
Met Office forecaster Rachel Ayers had warned of a “difficult night’s sleep” ahead of “a fairly unprecedented day” on Tuesday.
She said: “The temperature will be very hot throughout the day, before rising to 40C, possibly even 41C in isolated places across England during the afternoon. “
A possible high of 41C will make the country hotter than Jamaica, the Maldives and Barbados – with rail users warned of delays, cancellations and changes to train services.