UK Heatwave Disaster

3 Aug 2022

The UK recorded record-breaking temperatures on the 18th and 19th July causing major rail disruptions and dangerous weather warnings.

Multiple fires broke out across the South of England and Wales as the heatwave took over the UK. Parts of London, Kent, Cornwall and Pembrokeshire surpassed temperatures of 40C (104F) and have also caused wildfires that destroyed more than 40 houses and shops.

According to the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), this year alone England and Wales have had 442 wildfires, compared to last years 247. Head of the London Fire Brigade, Andy Roe, commented “I saw stuff this week that I had not expected to see as a London firefighter” during the heatwave in the capital. The fire service saw it’s busiest day since the second world war due to the extreme temperatures recording 1,146 incidents in a single day.

Due to temperatures, British rail was also forced to cancel hundreds of trains and flights at Luton airport were stopped due to the heat “melting the runway”. The airport announced, “following today’s high temperatures, a surface defect was identified” and passengers on an incoming flight were diverted because the tarmac on the runway was “melting.”

Train cancellations and delays were disrupted for the entire week from Tuesday – Thursday, due to the extreme heat causing damage to overhead wires, tracks and signalling systems, with a speed limit also brought into force as temperature edged into the high 30cs midday.

Andrew Haines, the chief executive of Network Rail, said “The weather we’ve experienced this week has put a huge amount of pressure on our infrastructure, our staff and our passengers, and with extreme weather events becoming more frequent as our climate continues to change, we’ve got to pull out all the stops to make our railway as resilient as possible.”

People who were travelling in and out of London were advised to stay at home if possible, during the heatwave. National Rail also released a post on Twitter, “Absolutely DO NOT travel north out of London”.


View Original Tweet on Twitter

Simon Clarke, the chief secretary to the Treasury, told Sky New that the fires were a “warning sign” with impacts of climate change.” He continued to say, “this is a reminder today I think of the importance of tackling climate change. This is remarkable, unprecedented event and something which obviously, because people have been saying, we are not used to seeing in this country. What we’ve seen in recent days is not normal and it is a warning sign.”

The UK is set to have another heatwave this week but with temperatures only reaching as high as 30C in the South of England.

Please seek on the following link for guidance on how to stay safe in the hot weather on the Government UK website.