Published by BBC NEWS - 5th September 2023
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People walk along Westminster bridge on 3 September, image shows a group of mixed gender people, one of them fanning themselves to cool down from the heat.Image source, Shutterstock

Heat-health alerts have been upgraded for much of England amid warnings of temperatures of 32C (89.6F) midweek.

There is an amber warning in eight of the country’s nine regions until Sunday – only the North East has a yellow one.

The UK Health Security Agency’s amber alert means people of all ages could be affected, putting the NHS at risk.

Hot conditions will be also be felt in Wales, while parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland could see “unseasonably high temperatures”.

English regions included in the amber warning are: London, the South East, the South West, the East and West Midlands, the East, North West and Yorkshire and Humber.

All eight were issued with a yellow warning on Monday but this has now been upgraded.

The North East is the last remaining region to have a yellow alert in place – this means that the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions should take extra care.

It also means officials do not believe there will be a significant impact on the NHS in the area.

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Temperatures reached 30C on Monday in southern England and south-east Wales, according to the Met Office.

The hot weather comes after what has generally been regarded as cool wet summer for much of the UK.

While July in particular was wetter and cooler than average with the maximum temperature failing to regularly reach 20C, the previous month was the UK’s hottest June on record.

The warm conditions are continuing through Tuesday, with highs of 31C expected near London.

Parts of southern and western England could also see temperatures stay above 20C overnight into Wednesday, according to the Met.

“We will see good sunny conditions through the week with cloudless skies, and some high temperatures by the time we get to Wednesday and Thursday, where we could see 31, maybe 32C,” Met Office spokesman Oli Claydon told the PA news agency.

He said the high temperatures would be “quite widely spread” across the UK, with the hottest conditions mainly being felt in south-east and central England.

Mr Claydon warned that Wednesday night could be a particularly warm with temperatures potentially not dropping below 20C, which is what is termed a “tropical night”.

There could also be a tropical night on Thursday, he said.

The Met Office said that tropical storms in the far western Atlantic, as well as deep areas of low pressure, have helped to amplify the jet stream – a fast wind high in the atmosphere – over the Atlantic Ocean. This has led to high pressure “dominating over the UK”, it said.

The forecaster added that temperatures could also hit 31C on Friday, although there could be more cloudy weather and chances of rain in the far north-west of Scotland.

Conditions could change over the weekend, and Mr Claydon said there was “no indication at the moment of another strong heatwave after this”.

When will the heatwave end?

Average temperatures are expected to return by the middle of next week.

Heatwaves are becoming more likely and more extreme because of climate change.

Last year the UK recorded temperatures above 40C for the first time. Scientists said that would have been “virtually impossible without climate change”.

The Met Office has also explained the reason for some “picturesque” sunsets across the UK.

Forecasters say it is due to “Saharan dust” which began to cover parts of the country yesterday and will continue for the rest of the week.

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