A “national emergency” has been declared as temperatures are set to reach breathtaking highs for the UK on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
It comes after the government’s emergency committee, COBRA, met on Thursday to discuss the dangerous weather and after the Met Office raised its own alert level.
The same heatwave is also currently being felt across Europe, with wildfires in Portugal, France and Spain raising further alarms.
But what exactly does that mean and why is it happening?
What is a national emergency?
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) says a “level four” national emergency will be declared if the hot weather becomes so extreme that “sickness and death may occur among the fit and healthy”.
A UKHSA spokesman told The Mirror on Thursday: “There is a possibility of a stage four heatwave. If it climbs above 40C, there will likely be a stage four heatwave for the first time.
“I don’t see how it couldn’t be with these temperatures.”
Any decision to report a serious incident is made by the Cabinet Office after consulting with the government graduates and nominating staff to manage the response.
In particular, it is the only alert level defined by the threat to society as a whole rather than a temperature threshold – meaning there are many factors to consider.
But ultimately, a national emergency would be declared when “the integrity of health and social care systems is threatened.”
A national heatwave emergency has never been declared before.
After yesterday’s COBRA meeting, Cabinet Secretary Kit Malthouse confirmed that the “preparation” of government services was a priority.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman also said earlier this week there were “tried and tested” plans to increase NHS staffing in various areas and there had already been some government coordination to implement mitigations and measures.
He emphasized that the main aim was to “ensure that the public is aware of the advice available”.
What does a national emergency look like for UK services?
This means services across the UK are likely to deviate from their normal routines.
Schools would likely close if conditions are too hot, and hose line restrictions could be put in place as water companies could implement water-saving measures on water pressure or cut 24-hour supplies.
Transport may be affected – road surfaces may melt from the sun and rails may warp, although Network Rail has already implemented speed limits to reduce rail warping and is monitoring temperatures.
The London Underground Network would note hot weather and bottle the water supply if temperatures stay above 24°C for three days in a row.
Vulnerable groups have already been urged to exercise caution, although the health system may need to adjust to dealing with an onslaught of patients.
Healthcare providers have already issued warnings on how to keep cool, with some health commissioners assessing public events and trying to reduce necessary travel.
Visits or phone calls would be set up to screen people at high risk, and care homes and hospitals would start monitoring indoor temperatures.
It’s not entirely clear how the government would deal with other potential problems, such as: B. Power outages caused by more and more people turning to air conditioners and fans. High temperatures can even affect cooling systems in power plants, reducing their efficiency.
The environment could also be affected by accelerated growth of blue-green algae – affecting fish and swimmers – and higher ozone concentrations. Wildfires are a greater risk – as seen across Europe – and even crops can be damaged by the heat.
It is also unclear what would happen to local services such as garbage collection.
Met Office red extreme heat warning
In another first for the UK, the Met Office has just issued a red warning for extreme heat in parts of England, in line with the UKHSA. This is the highest alert level and means danger to life.
It is in East Midlands, East of England, London and South East England, North West England, South West England, West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humber for Monday and Tuesday.
Meteorologists are predicting temperatures will reach 35C, although other computer models claim they will be higher at 40C by Tuesday.
This is a temperature never before seen in the UK.
Hot weather is due to high pressure over the UK and hot air pouring in from southern Europe, the Met Office says.
The highest alert level means there can be serious impacts on people and infrastructure – and it’s not limited to those exposed to extreme heat.
It could lead to serious illness or be life-threatening.
Significant changes in work practices and daily routines are expected to help people weather the heat.
The Met Office also predicts that the number of visitors to coastal areas, lakes and rivers will increase, meaning there are likely to be more water security incidents.
Could records be broken?
The highest recorded temperature in the UK was 38.7°C in Cambridge in 2019.
According to BBC Weather presenter Matt Taylor, there is an “increasing likelihood” that the UK record high will be broken in the coming days.
Referring to the stunning weather ahead, he said: “This is exceptionally hot, it’s the sort of temperatures you might be able to handle on holiday, but in day-to-day life it can have serious health implications and we probably will too next week see impacts on traffic and power supply.”
At night, the temperature is still not allowed to drop below 25°C, although it will start to get cooler from Wednesday.
Anything above 20°C at night is classed as a “tropical night”.
https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/heatwave-uk-national-emergency-climate-weather-40c-met-office_uk_62d13621e4b0b46bd795e3b8 UK National Heatwave Emergency Declared. Here’s What That Means