BRITAIN has baked on the hottest day of the year as temperatures soared to 32C – before huge hailstones battered the country.
The Met Office issued four weather warnings for thunderstorms as well as extreme heat alerts today while temperatures rocketed to 32.2C at Heathrow Airport.
Just a stone’s throw from Heathrow in London, rain and hail, “the size of marbles” bucketed down in Essex and Kent in a flash storm.
Four different weather warnings are now in place, including an extreme heat caution for the Central South and South West areas.
The warning is expected to last until Thursday night when conditions are expected to take a cooler turn.
Two amber thunderstorm warnings have also been issued in Cambridgeshire and in the Maidstone, Kent area, while there is yellow warning in place for the whole of the South East and East Midlands, from Nottingham down to just north of Brighton.
The previous high for the year was 31.6C, which was also recorded at Heathrow on Sunday.
And Monday kicked this week’s four-day heatwave off with 31C in the likes of London, with many areas hotter than Ibiza.
Some places even recorded conditions hotter than 29C Nouakchott, Mauritania, on the edge of the Sahara Desert.
And in the following days, the mercury is expected to creep up a degree or more.
Met Office forecaster Marco Petagna said: “Temperatures are likely to peak at around 32C (89.6F), even reaching 33C (91.4F) in isolated spots across southern England, so very warm for many.
“Even the more cooler areas will see temperatures in the twenties while other places could see some thundery showers.”
The new extreme heat weather warning was introduced on June 1 to highlight the dangers heatwaves pose on health, infrastructure and other services.
Killer heatwave fears were fanned after Public Health England figures showed 2,256 excess UK deaths were recorded during heatwaves in 2020 – the highest since records began.
Meanwhile, the yellow alert for thunderstorms, issued today for the South East and East Midlands cautions residents for the risk of flash flooding to homes and businesses.
And with the storms comes lightning, hail and strong winds expected until midnight tonight.
Giant hailstones were spotted in Essex this afternoon as storms hit with residents reporting the hail as “the size of marbles.”
Jim Dale, meteorologist for British Weather Services, said: “From about mid-week it looks like the high pressure will give way and as is usual after periods of very hot weather we could see something livelier in the way of downpours.”
The extreme weather could lead to power cuts and transport delays and cancellations across London and the South East.
At 33C, roads were”melting like chocolate” with councils around the country carrying out emergency repairs to surfaces damaged in the heat.
In Gloucestershire emergency maintenance had to be carried out as part of the A38 was deemed unsafe.
Somerset County Council said: “Think of the asphalt like chocolate – it melts and softens when it’s hot and goes hard and brittle when it’s cold.
“As a result, it doesn’t maintain the same strength all year round.
Grit was poured on top of the melted tar to solidify it and re-attach to surfaces.
And the heat is proved to be too much for the country’s trains, with scores of passengers delayed.
Some train speeds have been halved due to the risk of lines buckling in the heat.
London Northwestern cut speeds on its main line from London Euston, with Chiltern Railways also affected on the London Marylebone to Oxford line, and Northern Rail hit between Hull and Bridlington, East Yorks.
Network Rail said: “Rails expand as they get hotter. Speed restrictions mean lower forces on tracks, reducing the chance of buckling.”
And the heatwave could cause planes to veer outside approved airspaces amid GPS malfunctions.
UK Civil Aviation Authority said: “It is possible for tablets and mobile phones to overheat and shut down in hot weather.
“We have recently seen an increase in airspace infringements caused by overheating devices being used as moving maps in GA aircraft.”
Most read in News
Bookies have slashed the odds on UK temperatures reaching a whopping 35C this week.
As the heatwave continues, Ladbrokes has cut the odds to just 3/1 that the thermometer hits 35C anywhere in the UK before the end of the week.
Jessica O’Reilly of Ladbrokes said: “Freedom Day coupled with the heatwave is sure to see plenty of workers pulling sickies this week, and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see temperatures surpass 35C.”