Get ready for the longest September heatwave EVER: 32C (90F) tropical scorcher is set to roast Britain for at least SEVEN days – beating the current five-day record set in 1911

  • Post category:news
  • Reading time:14 min(s) read

  • Heat of 30C (86F) or above began on Monday and will run until at least Sunday 
  • Maximum of 33C (91F) likely this week with 2023’s hottest day so far on the way 

Britain was today baking through its longest September heatwave on record with temperatures up to 33C (91F) set to continue until at least the end of the weekend. 

The Met Office is predicting seven days in a row above 30C (86F) for some areas between Monday and Sunday this week – and a likely peak on Saturday in London.

Today could be the UK’s hottest day of the year so far, and this week will break the record for the most consecutive September days with heat of 30C (86F) or above.

A run of least 30C (90F) heat on three consecutive September days has happened just four times on record. This will be beaten today as the latest run gets to four days.

The September with the most 30C days over the month – not consecutive – was 1911, with five days. This will also likely be broken on Saturday when it will be six days.

And London Mayor Sadiq Khan today activated an emergency severe weather response for the capital which aims to help homeless people stay safe in the heat. 

It comes after temperatures soared yesterday to 32C (90F) at Kew Gardens in West London, making it the warmest September day in the UK since 2016 and just short of the hottest day of 2023 which was 32.2C (90.0F), recorded both on June 10 and 25.

The run of 30C-plus heat began on Monday with 30.2C (86.4F) in Pembrokeshire, before Tuesday hit 30.7C (87.3F) in West Sussex. It is due to last until at least Sunday. 

The UK Health Security Agency has an amber heat health alert until Sunday night in place for all regions of England apart from the North East, which has a yellow alert.

Climate and health experts told MailOnline the UK should brace for another wave of excess deaths similar to the 3,000 recorded during last year’s sizzling summer. 

Hundreds of Britons could die this week – with the over 65s, newborn babies and people with health conditions such as heart or lung issues said to be most at risk. 

Sunbathers make the most of the heatwave on Brighton beach in East Sussex today

Sunbathers make the most of the heatwave on Brighton beach in East Sussex today

A woman cools off in front of a large fan at a London Underground station in the heat today

A woman cools off in front of a large fan at a London Underground station in the heat today

Vanessa McIntyre, 25, and Maddie Sykes, 26, from Australia, cool off at Brighton today

Vanessa McIntyre, 25, and Maddie Sykes, 26, from Australia, cool off at Brighton today

A surfer makes the most of the warm weather in the water off Polzeath in Cornwall today

A surfer makes the most of the warm weather in the water off Polzeath in Cornwall today 

Commuters pack on to a hot Jubilee line Underground train at London Bridge station today

Commuters pack on to a hot Jubilee line Underground train at London Bridge station today

A man sleeps on a bench in London in the bright sunshine today as the heatwave continues

A man sleeps on a bench in London in the bright sunshine today as the heatwave continues

The Met Office said the hot weather in the southern part of Britain looks set to continue for the rest of the week.

What records could be broken this week? 

HOTTEST DAY OF THE YEAR?

The current highest temperature of 2023 is 32.2C (90.0F), recorded at Chertsey in Surrey on June 10 and Coningsby in Lincolnshire on June 25.

The Met Office believes temperatures could hit 33C (91F) at some point this week, which would be a 2023 record.

HOTTEST SEPTEMBER NIGHT?

Overnight temperatures in some southern areas could remain above 20C (68F) this week.

The record highest overnight minimum temperature for September is 21.7C (71.1F), which could be challenged.

HOTTEST DAY OF THE YEAR IN SEPTEMBER?

Yesterday’s high of 32C (90F) at Kew Gardens in London was the warmest September day since September 13, 2016, when Kent hit 34.3C (97.7F). 

MOST SEPTEMBER DAYS AT 30C+?

This week could also see the greatest number of September days in total and greatest number of consecutive September days on record where the mercury reaches 30C (86F) or more. 

A run of least 30C (90F) on three consecutive September days has happened just four times on record. This run will be beaten today as the latest period gets to four days.

The September with the most 30C days across the month – not consecutive – was 1911, with five days. This will also likely be broken on Saturday when it will be six days.

WARMEST SEPTEMBER DAY EVER?

This is unlikely to be broken. The warmest September day on record was in 1906 when the mercury hit 35.6C (96.1F) in Bawtry, South Yorkshire.

LONGEST HEATWAVE EVER?

This is also unlikely to be broken. The longest was 1976 when the heatwave threshold was met for 15 days in a row between June 23 and July 7. 

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With today starting off warm and humid – with some fog in the east – the Met Office said temperatures across the UK will rise under largely sunny skies as the day continues.

Temperatures in the South look will likely exceed 30C in many areas, with London gearing up to hit a high of 32C at around 4pm this afternoon.

The west of the country may see some isolated heavy or thundery showers later on, but the hot weather looks set to continue into the weekend.

Met Office chief forecaster Paul Gundersen said: ‘High pressure is situated to the southeast of the UK, which is bringing more settled conditions and temperatures well above average for the time of year.

‘While the highest temperatures are expected in the south, heatwave conditions are likely across much of England and Wales especially, with parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland also likely to see some unseasonably high temperatures.’

September’s heatwave is likely to peak on Saturday with temperatures rising as high as 33C (91F) in London, the Met Office has said, although further north will be cooler.

The UK Health Security Agency heat health alert means weather impacts are likely to be felt across the health service, with those aged above 65 or those with pre-existing respiratory or cardiovascular disease at greater risk.

Although temperatures have risen this high before in September, it is unusual for the heat to last so long.

Parts of the South are also thought to have endured a tropical night overnight, which is defined as having temperatures over 20C (68F).

The record highest overnight minimum temperature for September in the UK is 21.7C (71.1F).

The temperature last night in the Mumbles in South Wales fell to 21C (69.8F) – meaning it was not quite a record breaker. But the record could again be challenged tonight.

Stephen Dixon of the Met Office said: ‘On four occasions in Met Office climate statistics has September had three consecutive days of temperatures above 30C.

‘Including (Wednesday), we’re up to three on this event and expect to exceed 30C (on Thursday). This would be the most consecutive days of temperatures above 30C in September.’

Clear and settled conditions have also given rise to glowing sunsets and hazy dawns as dust from the Sahara is blowing north in the atmosphere.

Pedestrians walk across London Bridge in the capital today amid the very hot weather

Pedestrians walk across London Bridge in the capital today amid the very hot weather

Joggers go for a morning run at Primrose Hill in North London today shortly after sunrise

Joggers go for a morning run at Primrose Hill in North London today shortly after sunrise 

People enjoy the hot weather underneath the Knaresborough Viaduct in North Yorkshire today

People enjoy the hot weather underneath the Knaresborough Viaduct in North Yorkshire today

The plume was captured on satellite imagery moving across the Mediterranean and stretching for more than 1,200 miles on its way to the UK and Scandinavia.

Now Sadiq Khan triggers emergency response for London

Sadiq Khan today activated an emergency severe weather response for London as Britain continues to bake through its longest September heatwave on record.

The Mayor brought in London’s Severe Weather Emergency Protocol amid forecasts that temperatures up to 33C (91F) will continue until at least the end of the weekend.

The response aims to help homeless people stay safe in the heat, and is normally only used when the mercury falls to freezing in winter.

But it was also activated in the July 2022 heatwave when UK temperatures hit 40C (104F) for the first time.

Councils across London and homelessness charities will now give vulnerable rough sleepers emergency accommodation and support such as providing water and sunscreen.

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It is contributing to worsening air pollution this week, with hot, still weather known to also increase ground levels of harmful ozone.

Mr Dixon said: ‘Saharan dust is one factor in the air quality forecast.

‘Moderate levels of air pollution are expected across the UK on Saturday, with some high levels also likely for central and eastern parts.

‘Air pollution levels will look to reduce from Sunday, as we start to transition to this more unsettled picture from the north west.’

Dust brings red skies because particles in the atmosphere scatter blue light more than red, which is why the sky appears blue during the day.

When the sun is low in the sky, like at dawn and dusk, the light has farther to travel and so the blue light is scattered too much for us to see it, with the Saharan dust exacerbating this effect and turning the skies a deeper red.

The folklore expression ‘red sky at night, shepherd’s delight’ is true in many cases, the Met Office has said, as it means high pressure and fair weather is moving in from the west, ‘whereas red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning’ – means that high pressure is beginning to move away.

Mr Dixon said: ‘Saharan dust in the atmosphere is generally decreasing in concentration in the coming days and the remnants of that air is expected to push away as the UK returns to a more mobile Atlantic weather pattern from early next week.’

The heatwave is being driven by tropical storms pushing a high pressure system over the UK, with the jet stream having moved to the north and bending into what is known as an omega blocking pattern.

Named after the Greek letter omega because of its shape, this system occurs when an area of high pressure gets stuck between two areas of low-pressure to the west and east and also slightly south.

A man walks across Millennium Bridge in London today amid the very hot weather

A man walks across Millennium Bridge in London today amid the very hot weather

A surfer makes the most of the warm weather in the water off Polzeath in Cornwall today

A surfer makes the most of the warm weather in the water off Polzeath in Cornwall today

Rowers travel along the River Thames near Maidenhead in Berkshire this morning

Rowers travel along the River Thames near Maidenhead in Berkshire this morning

A man adjusts a parasol on the Southbank of the River Thames in London this morning

A man adjusts a parasol on the Southbank of the River Thames in London this morning

Pictured People relax in the shade of Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire this morning

Pictured People relax in the shade of Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire this morning

Pedestrians walk across London Bridge in the capital today amid the very hot weather

Pedestrians walk across London Bridge in the capital today amid the very hot weather

Landscaper Andrew Thompson mows the grass at the Abbey Gardens in Winchester today

Landscaper Andrew Thompson mows the grass at the Abbey Gardens in Winchester today

Joggers run across Millennium Bridge in London today amid the very hot weather

Joggers run across Millennium Bridge in London today amid the very hot weather

This has brought torrential rain and flooding for Spain and Greece but hot, dry and clear conditions for the UK and central Europe. 

What is causing the heatwave in Britain? 

The heatwave is being driven by tropical storms pushing a high pressure system over the UK, with the jet stream having moved to the north and bended into what is known as an omega blocking pattern.

Named after the Greek letter omega because of its shape, this system occurs when an area of high pressure gets stuck between two areas of low-pressure to the west and east and also slightly south.

This has brought torrential rain and flooding for Spain and Greece but hot, dry and clear conditions for the UK.

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Met Office chief meteorologist Neil Armstrong said: ‘An active tropical cyclone season in the North Atlantic has helped to amplify the pattern across the North Atlantic, pushing the jet stream well to the north of the UK, allowing some very warm air to be drawn north.

‘It’s a marked contrast to the much of meteorological summer, when the UK was on the northern side of the jet stream with cooler air and more unsettled weather.’

The Met Office defines a heatwave as three consecutive days of a particular region exceeding a given threshold, which varies around the UK.

For Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Cornwall and northern England, the threshold is 25C (77); for Somerset, Hampshire and the Welsh Borders, 26C (79F); the south coast, East Anglia and the East Midlands, 27C (81F); and for London and the home counties the threshold is 28C (82F).

Yesterday was the warmest September day since September 13, 2016, when 34.3C (97.7F) was recorded at Gravesend in Kent.

The temperature set that day in 2016 was the warmest of the year – the only time this century a particular year’s hottest day has been in September.

Before then, you have to go back to 1954 when the warmest day of the year was September 1, which reached 29.4C (84.9F) at Mildenhall, Suffolk.

A cyclist enjoys a warm morning ride in the grounds of Winchester Cathedral today

A cyclist enjoys a warm morning ride in the grounds of Winchester Cathedral today

Commuters cross London Bridge this morning amid hot and sunny weather in the capital

Commuters cross London Bridge this morning amid hot and sunny weather in the capital

A woman cools off in front of a large fan at a London Underground station in the heat today

A woman cools off in front of a large fan at a London Underground station in the heat today

People go out exercising early in the cool morning's air at Dunsden in Oxfordshire today

People go out exercising early in the cool morning’s air at Dunsden in Oxfordshire today

Rowers travel along the River Thames near Maidenhead in Berkshire this morning

Rowers travel along the River Thames near Maidenhead in Berkshire this morning

Commuters pack on to a hot Jubilee line Underground train at London Bridge station today

Commuters pack on to a hot Jubilee line Underground train at London Bridge station today

Pedestrians walking on London Bridge look across to Tower Bridge in the sunshine today

Pedestrians walking on London Bridge look across to Tower Bridge in the sunshine today

People go out exercising early in the cool morning's air at Dunsden in Oxfordshire today

People go out exercising early in the cool morning’s air at Dunsden in Oxfordshire today

Prior to that it was September 5, 1949, that year’s joint warmest day when it reached 32.2C (89.96F) at Shoeburyness in Essex, Cromer in Norfolk and Mildenhall in Suffolk.

READ MORE Heatwave health alert: ‘Deadly’ 30C temperatures to trigger ‘hundreds’ of fatalities in UK this week, experts warn

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Met Office spokeswoman Ellie Glaisyer revealed no change to the weather is imminent.

She said: ‘We’re continuing with the southerly airflow coming from the continent, with high pressure dominating.’

Ms Glaisyer said the only exceptions to the warm sunshine are areas affected by low cloud overnight and through the mornings, which yesterday hit parts of the Midlands, before burning back by the afternoon, and western regions where showers could occur.

She said: ‘That low cloud could push back inland again overnight but it should burn back to the coast during today. The same thing could happen overnight into Friday morning.’

Ms Glaisyer added showers – possibly including thunder – could affect South West England, western Wales, parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland over the coming days but that elsewhere is due to be ‘fine, sunny and very warm’.

Smart thermostat firm tado° has made an interactive map showing how hot your home gets in a heatwave. It is based on indoor temperatures recorded during the last heatwave on June 25

Visitors to Primrose Hill in North London enjoy a hazy sunrise today before temperatures soar

Visitors to Primrose Hill in North London enjoy a hazy sunrise today before temperatures soar

Sunrise over Godshill in the New Forest in Hampshire this morning as ponies graze

Sunrise over Godshill in the New Forest in Hampshire this morning as ponies graze

A person watches the sunrise at Primrose Hill in North London this morning

A person watches the sunrise at Primrose Hill in North London this morning

A cyclist rides through Blackheath Common in South East London this morning

A cyclist rides through Blackheath Common in South East London this morning 

A foggy start to the day in Bromley, South East London,  before temperatures soar later today

A foggy start to the day in Bromley, South East London,  before temperatures soar later today

Mounted police officers enjoyed ice cream in the heat at St James's Park in London yesterday

Mounted police officers enjoyed ice cream in the heat at St James’s Park in London yesterday

The weather is not set to change until early next week, at least, when a weather front attempts to make inroads.

READ MORE This summer was officially the hottest on RECORD: Global temperatures 0.66°C above average

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The Met Office said: ‘Temperatures behind the front are likely to return to near-normal values, but some eastern and south-eastern regions may retain the warm and predominantly dry conditions.’

Even for the rest of the month, plenty more fine and dry weather is forecast.

In the longer-range forecast for the second half of the month, the Met Office predicts ‘drier conditions than average’, although ‘spells of rain and showers are still possible’.

It added: ‘There are indications that late September may see a higher probability of high pressure than is typical for the time of year.

‘It is likely that temperatures will generally be above average for the time of year, with a higher likelihood of some unseasonably warm spells than would normally be expected.’




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