Jul 19, 2022 - World

U.K. endures "warmest night" as historic European heat wave heads north

Passersby walk towards an LED sign saying "18 -19 July extreme heat only travel if essential" in the London, England.

A heat warning sign in London. Photo: Sebastian Gollnow/picture alliance via Getty Images

The U.K. has likely endured its "warmest night," and its hottest day ever is forecast to follow on Tuesday as Europe's historic heat wave spreads north.

What's happening: Temperatures were above 25°C (77°F) in some parts of the U.K. overnight, per provisional Met Office data, as its first-ever Red warning for heat covers much of England. Temperatures could exceed 40°C (104°F) for the first time Tuesday. Southern Germany and eastern France were forecast to see similar temperatures.

By the numbers: Temperature records tumbled across France on Monday, with the western cities of Nantes and Brest hitting all-time daily highs. The town of Cazaux in the southwest also set a record 42.4°C degrees (108.3°F) as a fire raged nearby across 27,000 acres on Monday, CNN reports.

  • The U.K. recorded its hottest day of the year on Monday and its third-highest temperature ever when the English village of Santon Downham hit 38.1°C (100°F) on Monday.
  • Wales recorded its hottest ever day, when the village of Hawarden reached 37.1°C (98.78°C), according to U.K. Met Office provisional figures.

The big picture: The heat wave is striking as European Union research shows multiple EU countries "are exposed to very high drought levels." Much of fire-ravaged Portugal is in drought.

  • Spain's prime minister warned Monday "climate change kills" after two people were killed in fires.
  • More than 1,100 people in Spain and Portugal have died from heat-related causes over the past week. Officials in the U.K. issued warnings on Monday after at least three people drowned trying to escape the heat, per the BBC.

Between the lines: The EU has said climate change is "aggravating" the fires in Europe and meteorologists say it has already influenced the likelihood of temperature extremes in countries including the U.K.

  • "The chances of seeing 40°C days in the U.K. could be as much as 10 times more likely in the current climate than under a natural climate unaffected by human influence," said Nikos Christidis, climate attribution scientist at the Met Office, in a statement on Monday.
  • "The likelihood of exceeding 40°C anywhere in the U.K. in a given year has also been rapidly increasing, and, even with current pledges on emissions reductions, such extremes could be taking place every 15 years in the climate of 2100," Christidis added.

Go deeper... Axios Today podcast: Historic heat in Europe

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