There is a “40% chance” that the UK could see its hottest-ever recorded temperature this week, forecasters have said.
Temperatures are expected to hit 37C (98.6F) in South East England on Thursday and Sky weather producer, Joanna Robinson said: “There’s now an 80% chance we’ll break the July temperature record on Thursday and a 40% chance of recording the hottest EVER day.”
The current July record, set at Heathrow Airport in 2015, is 36.7C (98.1F), while the UK’s all-time record stands at 38.5C (101.3F), logged in Faversham in August 2003.
We can expect sweltering nights, too, Joanna said, with a “40% chance of breaking the highest overnight minima”, 23.9C (75F), which was set in Brighton in August 1990.
The Met Office has issued an amber heat alert – the second-highest level – for the East and South East of England as well as the East Midlands.
Those in affected areas are being urged to stay out of the sun, drink plenty of water and check on older people who are living alone.
The TUC has urged employers to help workers cope with the extreme conditions by allowing flexible working to avoid the rush hour, home-working, keeping buildings cool and relaxing dress-codes.
Owen Landeg, from Public Health England, said the summer heat brings “real health risks” for older people, young children and those with underlying health conditions.
“If you’re able, ask if your friends, family or neighbours need any support,” he said.
Dogs Trust, the animal welfare charity, has also urged owners not to leave their pets alone in hot cars as it can prove fatal.
On a day with temperatures at 22C (71.6F), the temperature inside a car could rise by 11C in just 10 minutes and quickly become dangerous.
Before the heatwave peaks, widespread sunshine is expected across the UK on Tuesday, with temperatures in the low 30s in England, the east of Wales and as far north as Yorkshire.
Parts of the South East could reach 34C (93.2F) tomorrow, according to the Met Office and temperatures will remain high overnight into Wednesday, making it difficult to sleep.
Fresher air is expected to move into western parts of the UK from Wednesday, but the heat will continue to build in central and eastern areas of the country, with highs of 35C (95F) expected.
Chief meteorologist Paul Gundersen said: “The weather setup is broadly similar to the pattern that brought high temperatures to much of continental Europe at the end of June.
“As well as high temperatures during the day, overnight temperatures will also be notably warm and could also break records.”
Forecasters say the heatwave will start to break overnight on Thursday into Friday, as a cold front pushes eastwards bringing rainfall and thunderstorms to some parts of the country.
In contrast to Thursday’s temperatures, highs on Friday could be 10C cooler with 27C (80.6F) likely in London, the Met Office said.