An extreme heat wave that meteorologists call an “apocalypse” broiled much of Europe and the United Kingdom on Monday, and hundreds of people died because of record high temperatures and ferocious wildfires. At least 748 heat-related deaths have been reported in the heat wave in Spain and neighboring Portugal, where temperatures reached 117 degrees this month.
Wales reported its hottest temperature on record Monday of 95.5 degrees, the U.K. Met Office said.
The United Kingdom crushed its record for highest temperature Tuesday as a scorching heat wave broiled much of mainland Europe, leading to hundreds of heat-related deaths and fierce wildfires.
Flames racing toward a French beach and Britons sweltering – even at the seaside – drove home concerns about climate change.
The Meteorological Office, U.K.’s weather office, announced that a temperature of 40.2 Celsius (104.4 degrees Fahrenheit) was provisionally recorded Tuesday in London. A temperature of 39.1 C (102.4 F) was provisionally recorded earlier in the day in the English village of Charlwood in Surrey.
Those temperatures were just the beginning of a record-setting day across the U.K.: “At least 29 observation sites across England have provisionally broken the previous all- time maximum UK record of 38.7 degrees C this afternoon,” the Met Office said in a tweet Tuesday afternoon.
“Well, I wasn’t expecting to see this in my career, but the U.K. has just exceeded 40 degrees Celsius,” Met Office Chief Scientist Stephen Belcher said in a Twitter video.
The previous record high temperature in the U.K. was 38.7 C (101.7 F) in 2019, according to the Met Office.
Tuesday’s highs will be “unprecedented,” Met Office forecaster Rachel Ayers said, predicting temperatures would rise as high as 104 or 105.8 F in parts of England in the afternoon.