Londoners urged not to travel as heat wave engulfs Europe

The UK Met Office has issued an orange extreme heat warning from Sunday to Tuesday as temperatures are likely to exceed the country’s 2019 record temperature of 38.7 degrees Celsius (101.7 degrees Fahrenheit), posing a risk to people passengers.

“Due to the exceptionally hot weather expected next week, customers should only use London’s transport network for essential journeys,” said Andy Lord, chief operating officer of Transport for London (TfL).

Temporary speed restrictions will be introduced on London’s Tube and rail services “to keep everyone safe”, Lord added, urging travelers to “carry water at all times”.

Extremely hot temperatures can damage power lines and signaling equipment. TfL said it would try to keep services running smoothly and increase inspections to mitigate the impact of the extreme heat.

Regular track temperature checks will take place to prevent the tracks from bending or warping, TfL said in a statement. The network will also check the air conditioning units on the Tube network and the air cooling systems of the capital’s double-decker buses.

Motorists were also encouraged not to drive during the hottest parts of the day.

“Lives are in danger”

The UK Met Office said people’s lives were at risk as temperatures could reach 40C (104F) early next week.

It issued its first-ever red extreme heat warning for parts of the country, including London and Manchester, calling the alert a “very serious situation”.

“If people have vulnerable relatives or neighbours, now is the time to make sure they have the appropriate 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 alert zone then people’s lives are at risk,” Met Office spokesman Grahame Madge said.

The UK Health Safety Agency has also raised its health heat warning from level three to level four – the equivalent of a “national emergency”.

Fires ravage Spain, France and Portugal

Elsewhere in Europe, wildfires tore through parts of Spain, France and Portugal in scorching heat on Friday, scorching forests and prompting widespread evacuations.
More than 400 people were evacuated from Mijas, a picturesque village in Malaga, southern Spain, as a new forest fire broke out, Reuters reported. About 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) away, bathers in Torremolinos spotted smoke near coastal hotels. Authorities in Catalonia have suspended sports and camping activities in around 275 towns and villages to prevent fire risks.

The flames also engulfed parts of Extremadura in western Spain, as well as the central region of Castile and Leon. Wildfires are threatening historic landmarks including a 16th-century monastery and a national park, while more than 18,500 acres of forest have been destroyed.

Firefighters work to put out the fires at the Dune du Pilat near Teste-de-Buch in southwestern France.

Water bomber planes and more than 1,000 firefighters were deployed to southwestern France to contain two blazes exacerbated by high winds and powder keg conditions, Reuters reported. Elsewhere, 11,300 people have been evacuated since wildfires broke out near Dune du Pilat and Landiras, where around 18,000 acres of land have been burned.

Temperatures are expected to top 40C in Portugal, where five districts were on extreme heat red alert and more than 1,000 firefighters battled 17 wildfires, authorities said.

There has been an increase in the number of victims linked to heat waves in Western Europe. Portugal recorded 238 more deaths from July 7 to July 13, according to the country’s DGS health authority. Spain recorded 237 additional deaths from July 10-14, according to estimates from the country’s health ministry. The death toll could rise further as figures for July 15 are not yet released. In June, an estimated additional 829 deaths were recorded in Spain due to the heat, the health ministry said.

British meteorologists attributed the extreme temperatures to the climate crisis.

Climate crisis pushes extreme weather

The scenes of firefighters battling wildfires and roads melting in extreme heat may seem dystopian, but UK forecasters say the phenomena are the result of the ongoing climate crisis.
In the summer of 2020, UK Met Office meteorologists used climate projections to predict the weather forecast for July 23, 2050 – and the results are surprisingly similar to their predictions for Monday and Tuesday.
“Today’s forecast for Tuesday is surprisingly nearly identical for large parts of the country,” said Simon Lee, an atmospheric scientist at Columbia University in New York. tweeted Friday, adding in a later post that “what happens on Tuesday gives a glimpse of the future.”
“We were hoping we wouldn’t get to this situation,” Met Office climate attribution scientist Nikos Christidis said in a statement. “Climate change has already influenced the likelihood of extreme temperatures in the UK. The chances of seeing 40C days in the UK could be up to 10 times more likely in the current climate than in a natural climate unaffected by human influence.

The likelihood of exceeding 40 degrees is “increasing rapidly,” Christidis said.

CNN’s Manveena Suri, Angela Fritz and Rachel Ramirez contributed to this post.

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