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Britain is on red alert as the nation prepares for a record-breaking 41C three-day heatwave.
A national emergency has been declared amid fears Europe’s worst heatwave for 500 years – since Henry VIII was king – could result in power cuts, water shortages and melting roads.
Schools across the country are planning to close or send children home early amid fears the heat will be so intense it will cause major health issues and kill the vulnerable.
READ MORE: Government issues unprecedented weather warning as 40C forecast for first time ever
We’ll be hotter than 39C Dubai on Monday (June 18) as never-before-seen temperatures grind the country to a halt.
And longer term, forecasters are predicting hot weather for weeks, into August, as Britain’s summer boils.
The Met Office today (Friday, June 15) issued its first ever extreme heat weather red warning across much of England – meaning there is a “risk to life”.
Forecasters believe the mercury will easily top the UK’s record temperature of 38.7C (101.7F) set in Cambridge in 2019 and hit 41C.
Met Office spokesman Grahame Madge said it was a “very serious situation”.
He added: “If people have vulnerable relatives or neighbours, now is the time to make sure they’re putting suitable measures in place to be able to cope with the heat because if the forecast is as we think it will be in the red warning area, then people’s lives are at risk.”
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Hospitality bosses are predicting bumper sales this weekend before the intense heat hits.
Revellers will down 70 million pints, 12 million burgers plus 10 million lollies and ice creams but those considering firing up a BBQ are being warned smouldering coals could spark a spate of garden fires.
It is also feared unbearable “tropical nights” will keep temperatures above 20C after sunset. That could leave millions in a sleepless zombie state throughout the Sunday-to-Monday scorcher.
Met Office chief meteorologist Paul Gundersen warned: “It is important people plan for the heat and consider changing their routines.
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“This level of heat can have adverse health effects.”
The extreme heat warning is in force across south-eastern and central England on Monday and Tuesday and a less-severe amber warning has been issued across the rest of the country at the start of next week.
A separate level-4 ‘national emergency’ heat-health alert warns of deadly heatwave conditions into mid-week.
Jim Dale, meteorologist for British Weather services, said: “It is now entirely possible we could hit 40C at the start of next week, and without question we are going into a period of hot weather that has the potential to kill.
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“The highest temperatures are most likely to be in the south, possibly London reaching to Cambridge and Manchester, and the odds are now in favour of the records falling.”
There are 150,000 visitors expected in Brighton today, 100,000 in Bournemouth and 75,000 in both Blackpool and Great Yarmouth as beach-lovers take to the coastline.
It is thought traffic jams could bring coastal routes to a standstill including the A23 to Brighton, A31 to Dorset, A30 to Cornwall and M55 to Blackpool.
But the AA warned sunseekers to not risk a beach trip in an old vehicle because cars over 10 years are more likely to break down in the heat.
Met Office issues first ever red heat warning as UK to be swallowed by 40C temps
Longer term, forecasters are predicting a bumper summer of heat.
James Madden, forecaster for Exacta Weather, said: “This looks like a very long spell of hot weather, particularly for the south which could see highs in the mid-20Cs or above for a couple more weeks.
“There may be a break in the heat later in the month, but it will return as we go into August.
“This is looking like one of the longest spells of hot weather the UK has experienced in quite a few years.”
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Alan Roe, headteacher of Dr Challoner’s High School in Buckinghamshire, wrote to parents yesterday (FRI) to say that “due to the worsening weather forecast and the red weather alert (which was amber this morning), we have decided to close the school on Monday and Tuesday on health and safety grounds”.
He added that the school would open as planned on Wednesday morning and would close for the year at midday.
“Many of our classrooms are very uncomfortable when the temperatures are in the mid-20s,” Mr Roe said.
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He added that with temperatures forecast to be up to 40 degrees Celsius on Monday and Tuesday, “we cannot keep the temperature in many of our rooms to an acceptable and safe level”, adding this decision had been taken in conjunction with several other local schools.
The Costello School in Hampshire has written to parents to state that after “the extreme temperatures forecast for Monday and Tuesday next week we have taken the difficult decision to close the school on these days”.
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Altwood Church of England School in Maidenhead announced that it would be closing on Monday and Tuesday because of the “extreme heat”, as did Three Rivers Academy in Surrey.
Kemnal Technology College in Bromley, London, wrote to parents to say that under guidance from its trust and the Department for Education, “we have taken the unprecedented decision to close the school and ask students and staff to work remotely”.
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