An ongoing heat wave is fueling wildfires, causing heat-related deaths and breaking records in Western Europe.
British authorities are issuing dire warnings, as temperatures may reach 104 degrees Fahrenheit in southern Britain, a region usually known for moderate summer heat, with July highs in the 70s. It’s the first time such a forecast has been made in the area.
The heat poses a serious health risk, as people will need to take precautions to avoid heat-related illness. In Britain, few homes, apartments, schools or small businesses have air conditioning, making residents particularly vulnerable.
Extreme heat is also endangering the environment and homes, with wildfires raging in Portugal, Spain and France.
British authorities have described it as a “national emergency” and southern Britain is under an “extreme” heat warning for the first time on record.
London Underground subway passengers are being advised not to travel Monday and Tuesday, because the heat is expected to affect rails and might cause delays, authorities said.
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In Spain, 237 deaths have occurred due to high temperatures this month, according to the country’s Carlos III Institute, which records temperature-related fatalities daily.
The heat has helped fuel raging wildfires in multiple countries:
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British authorities issued their first ever “red” warning for extreme heat, declaring a national emergency as forecasters predict record temperatures will put people, even those who are otherwise healthy, at risk of serious illness and death without proper precautions.
⚠️⚠️🔴 Red Extreme heat warning issued 🔴⚠️⚠️
Parts of England on Monday and Tuesday
Latest info 👉 https://t.co/QwDLMg9c70
Stay #WeatherAware ⚠️ pic.twitter.com/YHaYvaGh95
The chances of temperatures like those forecast are already 10 times higher than they would have been without the influence of human activity, said Nikos Christidis, a climate scientist with the U.K.’s Met Office.
“We hoped we wouldn’t get to this situation, but for the first time ever we are forecasting greater than 40°C (104°F) in the U.K.,” Christidis said. “In a recent study we found that the likelihood of extremely hot days in the U.K. has been increasing and will continue to do so during the course of the century.”
The U.K. Health Security Agency increased its own hot weather alert to the highest level, putting it to “national emergency.” The warning system was created in 2004, when concerns about climate change spurred authorities to develop their first plan to protect the public from severe heat.
Contributing: Associated Press