Britain’s first-ever extreme heat warning is in effect for large parts of England as authorities prepare for record temperatures that are already disrupting travel, healthcare and education.
The red alert will last throughout Monday and Tuesday, when temperatures could hit 104 degrees for the first time, posing a risk of serious illness and even death among healthy people, according to the U.K. Met Office, the country’s weather service. The highest temperature ever recorded in Britain is 101.7 degrees in 2019.
The heat in Britain is in line with conditions in much of Europe, where extreme temperatures and lack of rain are leading to major wildfires in France, Spain and elsewhere.
While Monday is likely to bring record highs to southeastern England, temperatures are expected to rise further as warm air moves north Tuesday, Met Office CEO Penelope Endersby said. The extreme heat warning stretches from London in the south to Manchester and Leeds in the north.
“So it’s tomorrow that we’re really seeing the higher chance of  degrees and temperatures above that,’’ Endersby told the BBC. Temperatures of nearly 110 degrees aren’t “off the cards … but we’re hoping it won’t be as high as that.”
Train operators are asking customers not to travel unless absolutely necessary because the heat is likely to warp rails and disrupt power supplies, leading to severe delays. Some medical appointments have been canceled to relieve strain on the health service. While some schools have closed, others are setting up wading pools and water sprays to help children cool off.
Nightfall will bring little relief, with the Met Office forecasting temperatures of 84 degrees at midnight in London.
Monday night will be “very oppressive,” and it will be difficult to sleep, chief meteorologist Paul Davies said.
“Tomorrow is the day where we are really concerned about a good chance” of hitting 104 to 106 degrees, and, “with that, all the health conditions that come with those higher temperatures,” Davies said.