UK weather: Is this an actual heatwave and how long will it last?

·3 min read
WEYMOUTH, ENGLAND - JUNE 15: A general view of Weymouth beach on June 15, 2022 in Weymouth, England. Hot air originating in North Africa and travelling up through Spain brings temperatures of up to 32c to the UK in the coming days. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)
People took advantage of the sunshine at Weymouth beach. (Getty)

Forecasters are predicting the UK could have its hottest June day ever recorded on Friday, with temperatures expected to hit a sweltering 34C by the end of the week.

On Wednesday, parts of the South East basked in 28C of sunshine as the summer heat kicked in.

Temperatures were expected to increase further on Thursday, with predicted highs of 29C in London and the surrounding area.

On Friday, 34C is forecast in the South East along with temperatures between 27C and 30C across most of England and Wales.

Despite the hot weather, the Met Office has said it does not expect there to be an official heatwave.

A spokesperson said: “Although some parts of England may perhaps meet these heat wave criteria it looks like this spell of warm weather will be relatively short-lived.

“Milder conditions look likely to return later in the weekend with temperatures trending back to around average for June as we see cooler air push across the country from the northwest.”

Read more: Hottest day of year due today as NHS issues health warning

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 15: Margaret Quilligan, with her grand daughter Mararet Rose, 2, and nieces Luxey, 7, and Noradoll, 6, play under Five Arches Bridge on June 15, 2022 in London, England. Hot air originating in North Africa and travelling up through Spain brings temperatures of up to 32c to the UK in the coming days. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Temperatures are expected to hit 34C on Friday. (Getty)

What is a heatwave?

The Met Office says a UK heatwave threshold is met when a place “records a period of at least three consecutive days with daily maximum temperatures meeting or exceeding the heatwave temperature threshold”.

This threshold varies in each county.

Do I have to do work during a heatwave?

An employer decides if it’s too hot for staff to work, but bosses must maintain reasonable temperatures in the office, according to the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.

The legislation does not say what maximum temperature is allowed but Trades Union Congress (TUC) is campaigning for it to be 24C in offices.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommends employees should have access to cool water.

It adds employers should also consider what clothing an employee is allowed to wear during hot temperatures and allow for changes in uniform or dress code.

If staff work outside, they would be given regular rest breaks to hydrate often.

Read more: Met Office issues health alert as temperatures to reach 34ºC

WEYMOUTH, ENGLAND - JUNE 15: A couple look out at the beach on June 15, 2022 in Weymouth, England. Hot air originating in North Africa and travelling up through Spain brings temperatures of up to 32c to the UK in the coming days. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)
People took advantage of the sunshine on Weymouth beach. (Getty)
People sit in the sun in St James's Park in central London on June 15, 2022. - Scientists say heat waves have become more likely due to climate change. As global temperatures rise over time, heat waves are predicted to become more frequent and intense and last longer, and their impacts more widespread. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
People sit in the sun in St James's Park in central London. (Getty)

What weather alerts and warnings can Met Office issue for a heatwave?

The Met Office has issued a level 2 heat-health alert for a large part of southern and central England from Friday until midnight on Sunday, with a level 1 alert in place for northern England.

On the four-level heat-health alert scale, designed to help healthcare workers manage through periods of extreme temperatures, level 1 is the lowest warning and is the minimum state of vigilance used during the summer months.

Level 2, called alert and readiness, is triggered as soon there is a 60% risk that temperature thresholds will be reached in one or more regions on at least two consecutive days and the intervening night.

The Met Office also issues weather warnings in three colours (yellow, amber or red) depending on the severity.

They cover rain, thunderstorms, wind, snow, lightning, ice, extreme heat and fog.

When making the decision, it considers the impact the weather may have and the likelihood of those impacts occurring.

Tips on handling the hot weather

First aid and health response charity St John Ambulance has issued some tips for handling hot weather.

Its medical director Dr Lynn Thomas said: “If you’re out and about in the sunshine, it’s important to make sure you look after yourself by staying hydrated, keeping out of the sun at peak times, and by wearing sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30.

“I would also encourage anyone with elderly relatives and neighbours to check in with them, as any increase in temperature can be dangerous.”

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