For the first time in its recorded history, England has reached 40 degrees Celsius – a benchmark temperature equivalent to well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Corningsby, Lincolnshire, in the east of the country, was the hotspot with a peak reading of 104.5° Fahrenheit.
Several locations in London, including Heathrow Airport and Kew Gardens, also peaked over 104° F.
England’s old record high temperature had been 101.7° F. Well over 30 locations blew past that mark during this week’s heatwave.
It wasn’t just England that sizzled in the warm weather – hot air surging up from North Africa also brought scorching heat to places like Spain and France – the city of Nantes got to over 107° F.
Scotland, while significantly cooler than England, still managed to make some history of its own. Charterhall – about an hour outside of Edinburgh – set that country’s new record high temperature of 94.6° F. The previous record high was 91.2° F.
Heat like this is especially dangerous in a country like the United Kingdom that is just not built to handle it. In the month of July, London’s average high temperature is only around 75° degrees Fahrenheit.
According to one government estimate, less than 5% of British homes have air conditioning. Most are smaller units, capable of cooling only a room or two efficiently – central air systems are almost unheard of.
The worst of the heat has thankfully passed in the UK – London’s daytime temperatures are expected to be in the 70’s for the rest of the week.