The UK saw its hottest August day in 17 years on Friday as sunseekers were warned to avoid packed beaches due to social distancing concerns ahead of a weekend heatwave.
Temperatures reached 36.4C at Heathrow and Kew Gardens on Friday afternoon, making it the hottest August day since 2003, according to the Met Office.
A heat-health warning has been issued for southern England, with temperatures expected to remain high until Tuesday evening in parts of the country.
Download the new Independent Premium app
Sharing the full story, not just the headlines
“Much of southern England and eastern areas of Wales will see the heatwave continue until the middle of next week, with temperatures widely into the low to mid 30’s Celsius,” Andy Page, the Met Office’s chief meteorologist, said.
“We’ve got a few exceptionally warm and humid nights ahead this weekend too, which could come close to record-breaking, as temperatures overnight remain above 20 Celsius in parts of south east England.”
It came as sunseekers were told to avoid some beaches which were packed with people around Bournemouth on Friday due to fears large crowds were making safe social distancing impossible.
The Coastguard said about 70 call-outs had been made across the UK by midday on Friday, which was “above average for this time of year”.
Scientists have warned that record-breaking summer temperatures are likely to become more frequent due to climate change after the UK saw its third warmest day on record (37.8C) last week.
Michael Byrne, a lecturer in earth and environmental sciences at the University of St Andrews, warned that two near-record temperatures so close together would be “unusual”.
“But it’s not surprising given climate change is happening and accelerating,” Mr Byrne told the PA news agency.
“Breaking temperature records year-on-year will absolutely keep happening, unless we take drastic action against climate change that’s a certainty.”
Ishani Kar-Purkayastha, a consultant in public health at Public Health England, also warned some people could find it “more difficult to cope” with the extreme heat, especially those are self-isolating due to coronavirus.
“This summer, many of us are spending more time at home due to Covid-19,” she said.
“A lot of homes can overheat, so it’s important we continue to check on older people and those with underlying health conditions, particularly if they’re living alone and may be socially isolated.”
Additional reporting by PA