A TEMPERATURE of more than 40C (104F) was provisionally recorded today for the first time in Britain, the Met Office has said.
The Met Office said the temperature of 40.2C was recorded at London Heathrow at 11.50am.
British train companies cancelled services and some schools closed, while officials urged the public to stay at home and the government triggered a "national emergency" alert.
Flights were suspended at Luton airport after staff identified a "runway defect". The hot weather had melted the runway at the Royal Air Force's Brize Norton air base.
🌡️ For the first time ever, 40 Celsius has provisionally been exceeded in the UK
London Heathrow reported a temperature of 40.2°C at 12:50 today
📈 Temperatures are still climbing in many places, so remember to stay #WeatherAware ⚠️#heatwave #heatwave2022 pic.twitter.com/GLxcR6gjZX
— Met Office (@metoffice) July 19, 2022
Sales of electric fans, hoses, air conditioning units and sprinklers are soaring, retailers said.
Meanwhile, in Ireland Met Éireann has issued a thunderstorm warning for 13 counties as temperatures in some parts of the country are also forecast to reach up to 28C.
A high temperature warning issued for Leinster will remain in place until 7pm this evening.
The forecaster said effects of this warning include heat stress and a risk of water-related incidents.
Separately, a Status Yellow thunderstorm warning has been issued for counties Carlow, Dublin, Kilkenny, Louth, Meath, Wexford, Wicklow, Cavan, Donegal, Cork, Tipperary, Waterford and Leitrim, valid until 9pm tonight.
In Spain, a wildfire raced across a field and engulfed an excavator near the northern town of Tabara, forcing the driver to run for his life as flames burned the clothes off his back.
In Portugal, half the municipality of Murca was on fire and the bodies of an elderly couple trying to flee had been found inside a "completely charred vehicle," the mayor told local broadcaster SIC.
In southern Europe, there were some signs conditions were starting to ease after days of blistering highs that have caused hundreds of deaths and left the countryside dangerously dry, authorities said.
Belgium and Germany are expecting the heatwave to hit them in coming days.