The Met Office has forecast the capital could see highs of 38C when the heatwave sweeps across England, with its chief executive saying “we may well see the hottest day in the UK in history” nationally.
Shortly before 1pm, St James’s Park recorded a high of 35.5C – meaning it is the hottest day of the year, but with the mercury expected to climb still further.
Met Office forecaster, Simon Partridge, told the Standard: “We’ll potentially see the hottest day ever recorded in the UK today and if not we’ll definitely see it tomorrow.
“It should reach 40C in parts of the UK – London shouldn’t be far off that temperature and I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see it reach that threshold either.”
A third emergency Cobra meeting about the heatwave will take place on Monday afternoon.
Cabinet Office Minister Kit Malthouse will chair the discussion about the UK’s response to the sweltering temperatures at 2.30pm.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not attend, his spokesman said.
The rise in temperatures has forced the UK Health Security Agency to issue a level 4 heat-health alert – described as an “emergency” – while the Met Office has issued the UK’s first red extreme heat warning, with both running from Monday to Wednesday.
Britons are being urged to stay inside during the hottest points of the day, between 11am and 4pm, and wear sun cream, a hat, stay in the shade and keep hydrated with water.
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Tube and car journeys down amid scorching heat
Congestion and tube ridership dropped on Monday as many commuters switched to working from home.
Satnav firm TomTom said road congestion at 9am fell from 53% on July 11 to 42% on Monday.
TfL which told people to “only travel if essential”, said around 1.06 million entries and exits were made by London Underground passengers up to 10am on Monday.
This is down 18% compared with the same period last Monday.
TfL said: “Ridership on Monday is typically lower than other days of the week on public transport and is therefore likely to be a good indication of where people are working from home.”
Boy, 16, dies after getting into difficulty at lake
A 16-year-old boy has died after getting into difficulty in Bray Lake, near Maidenhead, Berkshire.
Thames Valley Police said officers were called at 11.45am on Monday and a body was located at just after 1.30pm, when he was pronounced deceased at the scene.
Superintendent Michael Greenwood, the LPA Commander for Windsor and Maidenhead, said: “This is an absolute tragedy in which a young boy has died after getting into difficulty in the water of Bray Lake.
“The boy’s next of kin have been notified and are being offered support at this extremely difficult and traumatic time.
“My thoughts, and the thoughts of all of us at Thames Valley Police are with the boy’s family and his friends, and we would ask that their privacy is respected.”
Wales records hottest day on record
Wales has now provisionally recorded its hottest day on record, the Met Office has said.
Gogerddan near Aberystwyth has reached 35.3°C so far today, exceeding the previous record high of 35.2°C, recorded at Hawarden Bridge, Flintshire on 2nd August 1990.
‘Unprecedented’ demand for water in recent days
The extreme heat has resulted in “unprecedented peak demand” for water in recent days, Water UK said.
The industry body, which has members across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, said the “most intense demand” is across the south of England but that “pretty much all companies are seeing elevated demand at the moment”.
A Water UK spokesperson said: “Water companies are seeing unprecedented peak demand for water during this extreme hot weather event.
“We are urging everyone to carefully consider the amount of water they are using at this time.
“All water companies have been contacting their customers directly with information and advice to help them reduce their water usage.”
London footfall drops as commuters choose to work from home
Tens of thousands of London workers chose to avoid the torture of commuting into their offices on what is expected to be the capital’s hottest ever day.
Latest footfall figures show there were 18 per cent fewer people on the streets of the busiest parts of the West End and the City than last Monday up to 11am.
This was far bigger than the 11.5% decline in regional cities and the 7.3% drop for the UK as a whole. Coastal towns recorded a 9% rise in footfall.
Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at footfall analysts Springboard, said: “The extreme heat occurring today and tomorrow was already impacting footfall in UK retail destinations over the period up to 11am on Monday morning.
“Typically when the weather hot and sunny, shoppers gravitate to outdoor locations, and so footfall in high streets tends to increase while decreasing in shopping centres. However, with the extreme heat today the reverse has occurred, with a drop in footfall in high streets of -7.3% over the period up to 11am on Monday, while in both shopping centres and retail parks – both of which offer air conditioned environments – footfall rose by +1.6% and +1.3% respectively.
“As the day progresses and the heat increases, we are anticipating that the gap between footfall in high streets and shopping centres will widen further.”
Top temperatures around the country
Burst water main floods London streets as temperatures soar
A burst water main has flooded streets in south-west London as temperatures soared across the UK.
Around 70 firefighters and 10 fire engines responded to the scene on Galsworthy Road in Kingston upon Thames on Monday morning, alongside the police.
Footage shared on social media shows flooding on several roads which have been closed nearby.
Thames Water has said the broken 30-inch pipe does not supply homes so water should not be affected, adding that the conduit is a trunk main and not a sewage pipe as some witnesses claimed.
“Our engineers are tackling a large burst pipe on Kingston Hill. They’re working to shut down the flow of water from the damaged section,” it said in a statement.
“We’ll be doing all we can to repair it and get things back to normal as soon as we can, particularly in the current heatwave.
“The burst pipe doesn’t directly supply local properties, but we’ll be working hard to limit any impact.
“We’ll need to carry out a major repair, so there’s likely to be a need for a road closure. We’re sorry for any inconvenience this causes.”
Sadiq Khan accuses Boris Johnson of treating British public with ‘contempt’
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said Boris Johnson is treating the British public with “contempt” following his absence from Cobra meetings over the summer heatwave, and called for him to immediately step down as Prime Minister.
Mr Johnson has been criticised for choosing not to chair the security meetings with Cabinet ministers as parts of the country face temperatures of up to 40C (104F) on Monday and Tuesday, while still finding time to ride in a Typhoon fighter jet during a demonstration at RAF Coningsby last week.
Mr Khan said Mr Johnson should be making better use of his time, and declared he should hand over power to Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab while the Conservative Party chooses its next leader.
He said: “The Met Office for the first time ever have issued a level 4 red alert warning, the chief medical officer is advising everybody to be careful as a consequence of this extreme weather, the Prime Minister is hosting a lavish party at Chequers and obviously going on a joyride on a Typhoon plane.
“That’s not what a Prime Minister should be doing. And if the Prime Minister wants to go on a jolly, he should leave Number 10 Downing Street, he should resign and allow the Deputy Prime Minister to be a caretaker prime minister until the Conservatives have chosen their leader.”
He added: “This idea of a Prime Minister, who has been voted out by his party, having a jolly for six months is treating the British public with contempt, he should go now.”
Pictured: Swimmers cooling off in lake in Beckenham
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Pictured: Police officer pouring water on horse in Whitehall