Britain has recorded its hottest day on record for July, with the mercury climbing to 36.9 degrees Celsius (98 degrees Fahrenheit) at Heathrow Airport.
The conditions come as the country — better known for its often gray and damp conditions — prepared for the possibility of record-breaking temperatures later on Thursday.
The previous July record was 36.7 C (98 F) in 2015, while the all-time record is 38.5 C (101 F) recorded back in August, 2003. Britain’s Met Office said records go back to 1865.
The hot weather is causing problems for the National Health Service. Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, says staff are struggling since many facilities do not have air conditioning.
Scriven says no lessons were learned from earlier heat waves. He says that “last year, hospitals hired in large fans and coolers for a week or so but have got nothing long-term in place.” They are, he said, “purely reactive not proactive.”
Paris has beaten its all-time heat record, hitting 40.6 C (105.1 F) amid a heat wave breaking barriers across Europe. Authorities say the temperature is still rising.
The national weather service Meteo France announced that the new record was reached Thursday afternoon, beating the previous record of 40.4 C (104.8 F) in 1947.
It’s one of several records set in this week’s heat wave — the second wave baking the continent this summer. France saw its hottest-ever day on record last month, when a southern town reached 46 C (114.8 F).
A Dutch government health institute is warning of high levels of smog due to ozone in the air in parts of the country as a heat wave bakes Europe.
The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment issued a “smog alarm” Thursday for regions including the densely populated cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague.
The institute says air quality in the some regions will be “extremely bad” because light winds mean that pollution is not being blown away and sunlight transforms it into ozone.
The smog can cause irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, and leave people coughing and short of breath.
The institute warns that the elderly, children and people who already suffer from airway problems are particularly susceptible, and should stay indoors and avoid strenuous physical exertions.
Temperatures in the Netherlands are forecast to climb toward 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) on Thursday. Officials in Belgium say the nation has seen temperatures rise past the 40 C mark for the first time since records were kept in 1833.
The Belgian meteorological institute said on Thursday that the new record now stood at 40.2 C (104.4 F), recorded close to Liege in eastern Belgium’s Angleur on Wednesday.
It had said earlier that the 39.9 C seen in Kleine Brogel was the new national record. The institute said that the record could well be broken again on Thursday.
Authorities in Austria say a 2-year-old boy has died of dehydration in the country’s Styria region after he climbed into an overheated parked car without his family noticing and fell asleep in it.
The Austrian news agency APA reported Thursday that the boy, who climbed into a car parked at the family’s farm on Monday, died at a children’s hospital on Wednesday.
The country’s authorities warned Thursday that children and animals can die quickly in closed cars without air conditioning even if the outside temperature is only at 26 degrees Celsius (79 F).
Europe is sweltering in a record-breaking heat wave with temperatures expected to rise to more than 40 C (104 F) in some places.
Hot, hotter, hottest! Paris, London and points across Europe are bracing for record temperatures Thursday as the second heat wave this summer bakes the continent.
Climate scientists warn this could become the new normal in many parts of the world. But temperate Europe — where air conditioning is rare — isn’t equipped for the temperatures frying the region this week.
So tourists frolicked in fountains to seek relief and authorities and volunteers fanned out to help the elderly, sick and homeless hit hardest by the heat.
Trains were cancelled in Britain and France, and French authorities urged travellers to stay home.
On Thursday, the Paris area could be as hot as 42 C (108 F) as a result of hot, dry air coming from northern Africa that’s trapped between cold stormy systems.
London might see 39 C (102 F).
And swaths of Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland could face temperatures exceeding 40 C (104 F).