Brits have been told to brace themselves for what could be the hottest day of the year on Friday as a mass of hot air sweeps across the UK from the Atlantic.
The Met Office said that the current heatwave – which is expected to last until at least Sunday – was the result of “hot air mass” that had originated in the Atlantic Ocean, heating up as it swept across continental Europe.
A combination of clear skies, strong August sunshine and light winds is a recipe for “very high temperatures”, a Met Office meteorologist told HuffPost UK.
The mercury is expected to rise to 37C in London and the south east on Friday.
However, forecasters have predicted that temperatures could surpass the 37.8C recorded at Heathrow on July 31 – the hottest day of the year so far and the UK’s third warmest ever.
The threshold for a heatwave is three days of temperatures over 25C across most of the nation and 28C in London.
In Bournemouth, where a “major incident” was declared in June after thousands flocked to the town’s beaches, the council warned people to “behave responsibly” when visiting the coast.
BCP Council tweeted on Thursday: “Councils do not have the power to close public beaches.”
However, it added: “Police can issue temporary dispersal orders if they consider these necessary.”
Public Health England (PHE) has issued a heat-health warning amid the high temperatures, with people advised to stay cool indoors by closing curtains that face the sun and ensuring pets or children are not kept in vehicles.
Ishani Kar-Purkayastha, a consultant at PHE, said the advice was particularly important amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“This summer, many of us are spending more time at home due to Covid-19,” she said.
“A lot of homes can overheat, so it’s important we continue to check on older people and those with underlying health conditions, particularly if they’re living alone and may be socially isolated.”
Meanwhile, health expert Ilan Kelman warned that the UK’s rising temperatures will make it “highly dangerous” for people to be outside if more is not done to curtail climate change.
Kelman, who is a professor of disasters and health at University College London, said: “These temperatures are unfortunately in line with the expectations for heat under climate change, which is one of the most concerning health impacts.
“Without stopping human-caused climate change, these levels of summer heat and humidity will become regular, making it highly dangerous for us to be outdoors and even indoors without continual cooling.
“Air pollution can also worsen under heat with its knock-on health effects, such as for cancer and asthma.
“Irrespective of urban heat islands and natural climate variabilities, the human signal in climate change is showing in these heat patterns.”