Level three Heat health alert comes into effect from today

Heat health alert comes into effect at TODAY: Amber ‘level three’ warning across England will put children, elderly and vulnerable at risk as temperatures soar to mid-30’s and Met Office issues ‘exceptional’ fire severity risk

  • Officials issued a Level Three Heat Health Alert until Saturday 13 August highlighting health impacts of heat 
  • The Met Office said temperatures likely to rise into the low to mid-30s in central and southern parts of the UK
  • Outside the hottest areas in the south east, much of Britain could see temperatures widely in the high 20s  
  • Liz Truss said companies should be ‘held to account’ for not dealing with ‘leaky pipes’ amid hosepipe pipes

Britain is bracing for another week of sweltering temperatures as experts announce a Level 3 Heat Health Alert will come into effect from midday today – with little rain expected to help relieve the threat of drought which has prompted hosepipe bans and fire warnings.

Families enjoying the summer holidays are set for sizzling heat on Tuesday as temperatures are expected to reach 27C (81F) in the capital, while forecasters predict the mercury will reach 28C (82F) in Southampton and a balmy 26C (79F) in Exeter. 

The Met Office said temperatures are likely to rise into the low to mid-30s in central and southern parts of the UK later by Thursday – but will not be as extreme as the record-breaking heat in July when the thermometer climbed above 40C. 

The UK Health Security Agency has issued a Level 3 Heat Health Alert for southern and central England from midday today until Saturday 13 August – and warns Britons to ‘look out for others, especially older people, young children and babies and those with underlying health conditions’.

It also urges people to ‘close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors’, and ‘drink plenty of fluids and avoid excess alcohol, dress appropriately for the weather and slow down when it is hot’.

With the latest heatwave coming after months of low rain, which have left the countryside and urban parks and gardens tinder-dry, households in some areas are being urged not to light fires or have barbecues.

The Met Office’s fire severity index (FSI), an assessment of how severe a fire could become if one were to start, is very high for most of England and Wales, and will reach ‘exceptional’ for a swathe of England by the weekend.

Meanwhile, Tory leadership frontrunner Liz Truss has weighed on hosepipe bans after two water companies announced others warned they may need to follow suit, following the driest eight months from November to June since 1976 as well as the driest July on record for parts of southern and eastern England.

A dried up lake in Wanstead Park, north east London was pictured on Monday, as Britain braces itself for another heatwave

Pictured: Families enjoying their summer holiday enjoy the warm climes at Porthmeor Beach in St Ives, Cornwall

Pictured: Sunbseekers make the most of sunny weather at Porthgwidden Beach in St Ives, Cornwall yesterday morning

Ms Truss said: ‘My view is that we should be tougher on the water companies and that there hasn’t been enough action to deal with these leaky pipes which have been there for years.

‘I have a lot of issues with my water company in Norfolk, which is a particularly dry area of the country, and those companies need to be held to account.’

She told the Daily Express hosepipe bans ‘should be a last resort’, adding: ‘What I’m worried about is it seems to be a first resort rather than the water companies dealing with the leaks.’

Dr Agostinho Sousa, Head of Extreme Events and Health Protection at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said: ‘Temperatures will feel very warm again this week, particularly in southern and central parts of the country.

‘We want everyone to enjoy the warm weather safely when it arrives, but remember that heat can have a fast impact on health.

‘It’s important to ensure that people who are more vulnerable – elderly people who live alone and people with underlying health conditions – are prepared for coping during the hot weather.

‘The most important advice is to ensure they stay hydrated, keep cool and take steps to prevent their homes from overheating.’

Scientists warn that the likelihood of droughts occurring is becoming higher due to climate change, driven by greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels and other human activities.

Climate change is also making heatwaves more intense, frequent and likely – with last month’s record temperatures made at least 10 times more likely because of global warming, and ‘virtually impossible’ without it, research shows.

Dry earth on the banks of Grafham Water near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire, where water is receding during the drought

Fire Fighters rushed to Ludwell Valley near the centre of Exeter after a fire took hold over the weekend. The fire ripped through the grass lands, stopping merely meters away from residential houses

A summer of hosepipe bans and fire warnings continues on Tuesday as a heat health alert comes into place across much of the country.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA)’s amber alert covers southern and central England from midday on Tuesday until 6pm on Saturday, with experts advising people to look out for those who are older or with existing health conditions, as well as young children.

Tory leadership frontrunner Liz Truss, meanwhile, has weighed in after two water companies announced hosepipe bans and others warned they may need to follow suit, following the driest eight months from November to June since 1976 as well as the driest July on record for parts of southern and eastern England.

Ms Truss said: ‘My view is that we should be tougher on the water companies and that there hasn’t been enough action to deal with these leaky pipes which have been there for years.

‘I have a lot of issues with my water company in Norfolk, which is a particularly dry area of the country, and those companies need to be held to account.’

She told the Daily Express hosepipe bans ‘should be a last resort’.

‘What I’m worried about is it seems to be a first resort rather than the water companies dealing with the leaks.’

The amber heat alert ‘requires social and healthcare services to target specific actions at high-risk groups’, but is one stage lower than the most serous level four red warning issued in last month’s heatwave.

The Met Office said temperatures over coming days will not be as extreme as the record-breaking heat in July when the thermometer climbed above 40C, however it is still likely to rise into the low to mid-30s in central and southern parts of the UK.

Heatwave thresholds – which are met at different temperatures in different parts of the country – are likely to be hit in much of the UK.

Outside the hottest areas, much of England and Wales and south-east Scotland could see temperatures widely in the high 20s, with a chance of a few spots seeing temperatures into the low 30s, the Met Office said.

Scotland and Northern Ireland will also see temperatures in the high 20s and could reach official heatwave criteria by Friday, the forecasters said.

With the latest heatwave coming after months of low rain, which have left the countryside and urban parks and gardens tinder-dry, households in some areas are being urged not to light fires or have barbecues.

The Met Office’s fire severity index (FSI), an assessment of how severe a fire could become if one were to start, is very high for most of England and Wales, and will reach ‘exceptional’ for a swathe of England by the weekend.

Scientists warn that the likelihood of droughts occurring is becoming higher due to climate change, driven by greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels and other human activities.

Climate change is also making heatwaves more intense, frequent and likely – with last month’s record temperatures made at least 10 times more likely because of global warming, and ‘virtually impossible’ without it, research shows.

 

Heatwave thresholds – which are met at different temperatures in different parts of the country – are likely to be hit in much of the UK.

Scotland and Northern Ireland will also see temperatures in the high 20s and could reach official heatwave criteria by Friday, the forecasters said.

The Met Office recently raised the temperatures that have to be reached for an official heatwave for eight English counties, to reflect the warming conditions in the UK.

Met Office deputy chief meteorologist Tony Wardle said: ‘Heatwave criteria look likely to be met for large areas of the UK later this week, with the hottest areas expected in central and southern England and Wales on Friday and Saturday.

‘Temperatures could peak at 35C, or even an isolated 36C on Saturday.

‘Elsewhere will see temperatures widely into the high 20s and low 30s Celsius later this week as temperatures build day on day through the week due to an area of high pressure extending over much of the UK.

‘Coupled with the high daytime temperatures will be continued warm nights, with the mercury expected to drop to only around low 20s Celsius for some areas in the south.’

The Met Office said there is little rain in the forecast, with only the North West likely to see any short-lived showers.

Mr Wardles said: ‘Further south, which has seen little rain for some time now, dryness will continue through the week and provide no relief for parched land, especially in the South East.’

Richard Allan, professor of climate science at the University of Reading, said there are many reasons why drought events become worse as a result of human-driven climate change.

A warmer atmosphere is thirstier and dries out the ground, while heatwaves exacerbate the development of drought conditions, and, because continents are warming so fast, ocean winds cannot blow enough moisture over the land.

Uneven global warming can also disrupt weather patterns, and make periods of more persistent wet or dry conditions more common.

‘Human caused warming of climate is intensifying the global water cycle and disrupting weather patterns leading to more severe droughts but also more serious flooding events across the globe,’ said Prof Allan.

Dr Leslie Mabon, lecturer in environmental systems at The Open University, said: ‘Above all else, the drought risk we are seeing in the UK is a reminder that we urgently need to tackle the problem at source: this means reducing emissions from fossil fuels to limit the extent of harmful climate change we will face.

‘Moreover, countries like the UK, which have traditionally had more a more temperate climate and have less experience of managing the prolonged effects of hot, dry spells, need to plan now to adapt to hotter weather.

‘More than encouraging individuals to save water, this also means looking at our water infrastructure and considering where investments are made to ensure we are better prepared for managing water in hot spells.’

It comes as hosepipe bans could last until October with no ‘meaningful rainfall’ forecast to arrive anytime soon as temperatures are set to soar to 36C amid a ‘level three’ heat alert across many parts of England.

The Met Office has said temperatures are likely to rise into the low to mid-30s in central and southern parts of the UK – but will not be as extreme as the record-breaking heat in July when the thermometer climbed above 40C.

The UK Health Security Agency has issued a heat health alert for southern and central England from Tuesday to Saturday, with experts advising people to look out for those who are older or with existing health conditions, and young children.

An Atlantic weather system next week is forecast to result in a 10C fall in temperatures along with an increased chance of rain and thunderstorms. But it is unlikely to be substantial enough to replace water supplies.

Two water companies have already announced hosepipe bans and others have warned they may need to follow suit, following the driest eight months from November to June since 1976, and the driest July on record for parts of southern and eastern England.

Southern Water, which has imposed a ban in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, has applied to the Environment Agency for a six-month ‘drought permit’ to allow it to draw more water from the River Test, The Times reports.

The River Test’s flow had been 2,500 megalitres (Ml) a day in March, but this has now fallen to just 450Ml.

Southern Water has said the flow could fall further this month to 365Ml – hitting the legal limit for removing water.

A spokesperson said: ‘The permit would last six months or until flows have returned to above 500Ml per day for 21 consecutive days.’ 

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