The UK experienced its hottest night on record as it braces for another record-breaking day on Tuesday, with temperatures set to hit 40C in a heat wave exacerbated by climate change.
The Met Office has forecast temperatures to reach 41C in parts of England, where an extreme heat warning is in place, making the country hotter than Jamaica, the Maldives and Barbados.
The mercury has tentatively reached 25.9 at Emley Moor, West Yorkshire, easily surpassing the previous daily low of 23.9C, recorded at Brighton in 1990.
The mercury peaked at 38.1C at Santon Downham, Suffolk, on Monday, making it the hottest day of the year and the third hottest day on record, after 38.7C at Cambridge, in 2019, and 38.5°C in Faversham, Kent, in August. 2003.
Scotland and Wales are also expected to experience their hottest days on record.
Nighttime temperatures did not drop below 25°C in some places.
Heat waves have been made hotter, longer and more frequent by the worsening climate, and experts have warned of the need to adapt homes and towns across the UK for a future of warmer summer heat. intense – and deadly.
Most transport routes across England and Wales will be affected by warm weather on Tuesday, according to National Rail, with customers urged to only travel if “absolutely necessary”.
Network Rail said: “There will be delays, cancellations and last minute changes to rail services due to the unprecedented record heat on these days.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said problems on rails and roads would continue for decades during extreme heat waves.
Asked how long it would take to upgrade the existing rail infrastructure to be more resilient, he told Sky News: “Decades, in fact, to replace everything. Same with Tarmac on 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.
Southern, South Eastern, South Western Railway and Great Western Railway were among dozens of rail companies operating drastically reduced services across the country.
Transport for London (TfL) said London’s rail network would also operate a reduced service on Tuesday due to safety restrictions put in place to deal with the heat.
Elsewhere, council sandpits were on standby to spread light dusting of sand onto the molten roads.
Emergency services and the government have repeated urgent warnings about the dangers of trying to stay cool after several tragedies in streams and reservoirs during the heatwave.
The family of 13-year-old Robert Hattersley said they were “absolutely devastated” after he died when he got into trouble in the River Tyne in Northumberland on Sunday.
Emergency services have also confirmed the deaths of a 16-year-old boy in Salford Quays, Greater Manchester, a 16-year-old boy in Bray Lake near Maidenhead, Berkshire, and a man in 50 years old in a tank near Leeds under similar circumstances.
There have been warnings of pressure on hospitals from extreme temperatures, and ambulance services fear they will face increasing numbers of calls as the heat peaks on Tuesday afternoon.
The UK health security agency has issued a level 4 health alert – described as an ’emergency’ – and the UK is subject to its first extreme heat red warning for much of England, issued by the Met Office.