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Nov 15th 2018
Global Warming Might Be Especially Dangerous for Pregnant Women.
Scientists are concerned that heat waves could be linked to more premature births and stillbirths.
At 12:13 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on September 1, 2017, the San Francisco Bay Area National Weather Service office issued an urgent weather message: “Dangerously hot conditions to begin the Labor Day weekend.” The heat wave set a new record temperature of 106 degrees Fahrenheit in downtown San Francisco, handily beating the previous record of 103 degrees set in 2000.
“Hot temperatures will create a dangerous situation in which heat illnesses are likely,” the message read, advising all San Franciscans to drink plenty of fluids, seek out air-conditioning, and check up on relatives and neighbors. The advisory also warned of heat-related illnesses—particularly for the elderly, children, and sick people—as well as pets and livestock.
Some scientists think another group should be added to the list: pregnant women.
A handful of researchers in the United States, Canada, and elsewhere are methodically accumulating evidence suggesting that higher temperatures could be linked to a higher risk of premature births, stillbirths, or other negative pregnancy outcomes. The findings in each case, while compelling, still raise as many questions as they seem to answer, and all the researchers say that much more work needs to be done. But they also suggest that enough evidence has already surfaced to warrant increased scrutiny—particularly as global warming is expected to drive average temperatures ever upward over coming decades.
“In the future,” said Rupa Basu, chief of air and climate epidemiology at the California Environmental Protection Agency, “this is going to be a growing public-health concern.”
A decade ago, Basu noticed something odd in the scientific literature documenting the health risks of air pollution—a much clearer and well-established relationship. She knew that past research, including some of her own, had shown a link between air pollution and negative pregnancy outcomes, but while the literature alluded to a seasonal pattern, none of the studies controlled for temperature. “I said that some of this must be due to temperature,” Basu recalled, “but we don’t have any data to support that.”
Stillbirth risk was 10.4 percent higher with a 10-degree Fahrenheit apparent-temperature increase.
Basu first started to explore the effects of temperature on premature births. Using birth-certificate data from California’s Office of Vital Records, she matched more than 58,000 preterm births occurring during the warm months from 1999 through 2006 with climate data from the state Irrigation-Management Information System and U.S. EPA Air-Quality System. She also pulled air-pollution data from the California Air-Resources Board to assess whether levels of ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, or smokelike particles were confounding or changing the relationship between temperature and premature births.
For her analysis, Basu used a case-crossover design in which every woman who delivered prematurely served as her own control for comparison. The design eliminates some variables, such as age, that are associated with risk for negative outcomes in pregnancy and could potentially skew the results if different women were compared to one another. She compared temperatures from a few days in the week before the delivery with temperatures on other nearby days, to see if premature births were more likely to happen on or after hotter days.
The results were startling. Her research suggested that an increase of 10 degrees Fahrenheit in weekly average “apparent” temperatures—a combination of heat and humidity—corresponded to an 8.6 percent increase in premature births. That association was independent of air pollution.
Later, she turned her attention to stillbirths, doing a similar temperature analysis with a state registry of fetal death certificates. In March of 2016, Basu published the results from analyzing more than 8,500 stillbirths that occurred during a decade of California’s warm seasons: Stillbirth risk was 10.4 percent higher with a 10-degree Fahrenheit apparent-temperature increase.
After her research on premature birth, the stillbirth results were “pretty much on par with what I was expecting,” Basu said. “I would be shocked if there wasn’t an association.”
These findings have been echoed independently elsewhere. Looking at records of more than 5,000 stillbirths in Quebec over 30 years, Nathalie Auger of Quebec’s institute for public health found that with higher temperatures, stillbirth risk increased continuously for certain categories of stillbirths. For those considered full-term, happening after 37 weeks of pregnancy, the odds of stillbirth were 16 percent higher at 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit). The increase in odds of stillbirths between those two temperatures was 19 percent for stillbirths where the cause was marked in the registry as unknown, and 46 percent for those attributed to maternal complications.
“It’s much higher than we would have thought.”
Auger and her colleagues hypothesized that higher temperatures could have played a role in those stillbirths with unknown causes, which made up about a quarter of the total. Temperature “is not normally something you would look for” in investigating the cause of a stillbirth to try to prevent a mother from losing another child in the same way, Auger said. “It’s an undiscovered possible cause of stillbirth.”
Pauline Mendola, an epidemiologist at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, along with Sandie Ha, until recently a postdoc at the institute, analyzed medical records on nearly 1,000 stillbirths that occurred between 2002 and 2008 in 15 different U.S. hospital-referral regions from Los Angeles to Miami to Massachusetts. They found that a 1 degree Celsius temperature increase corresponded to a 6 percent increase in stillbirth risk, or about four more stillbirths per 10,000 births.
In addition to their case-crossover study, the group examined the effects of chronic exposure to heat through the whole course of a pregnancy, and were surprised to find the odds of stillbirth were 3.7 times greater when women experienced temperatures that were in the top 10 percent of the range for their location.
“It’s much higher than we would have thought,” Mendola said. “To see something with an odds ratio of three to four—that’s pretty striking.”
Compared to the base rate of stillbirths in the United States—about 24,000 per year in the most recent data—they calculated that the risk increase from heat exposure during pregnancy they observed would translate to about 1,000 additional stillbirths in any given year.
“We were like, ‘wow,’” Ha said. “I think that the prolonged exposure to extreme temperature is actually more important than we thought before.”
“We’re challenged in our ability to do good work on these questions of rare outcomes and the environment.”
The cumulative evidence has been enough for these and other researchers to suggest that previous research on heat vulnerability, which mainly focused on cardiovascular problems in the elderly, didn’t capture the full spectrum of potential threats to public health from rising temperatures.
Pregnant women “have traditionally fallen outside of our conception of who is vulnerable to heat,” said Sabrina McCormick, a sociologist at George Washington University, whose research includes how people respond to climate change—heat in particular. “We need to really change that conception.”
* * *
For all of the compelling research, of course, lots of unanswered questions and important caveats remain. In each study, for example, researchers weren’t looking at the temperatures individual women were experiencing before stillbirths and don’t know how much time women may have spent outside or, more importantly, inside—perhaps with air-conditioning. It would be ideal to have women carry a temperature monitor, said Ha, or assemble a large cohort of women to follow and collect all the potentially interesting variables, said Basu. But such studies would be very expensive to run, and take a long time to get results.
“We’re challenged in our ability to do good work on these questions of rare [health] outcomes and the environment,” Mendola said, because it’s not easy to gather enough cases, with enough detail, to do so. Her study with Ha drew its clinical data on about 1,000 stillbirths from the medical records of nearly 230,000 women giving birth that the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development collected to study risk factors for caesarean deliveries. The birth or death certificates that other studies relied on give only limited information.
Compared to factors like maternal complications, the effect of an environmental exposure on stillbirth risk is small, Ha said, so teasing it out of all the potential confounders is difficult. Some factors that could influence stillbirth risk are closely correlated to temperature, such as air-pollution levels and season of conception, said Tim Bruckner, a public-health researcher at the University of California, Irvine, who has studied the effects of exposure to cold temperatures on birth outcomes in Sweden. “That makes it hard to attribute a causal effect of the birth outcome to temperature.”
“We should be warning pregnant women about the risks of heat.”
Ha and Mendola have also done research on the effects of air pollution on stillbirth, and did control for it as well as season of conception in their temperature study. The effects of air pollution and temperature appear to be independent of one another, Mendola said, “to the extent that the math works.”
But Gary Loy, an obstetrician at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and advisor to a regional Pediatric Environmental-Health Specialty Unit who was not involved with the temperature- and pregnancy-outcomes research, issued a note of caution. “The strength of association is always in question,” he said, “because there are so many confounders and biases and potential influences.”
Even so, Loy added that, based on what’s been uncovered on temperature and pregnancy thus far, “I think it’s settled there’s an association.” He said, “I don’t think there’s any question.”
Perhaps the biggest caveat is that so far, all the research has been based on observational data. “Epidemiological studies in general have their difficulties,” Loy said. “They’re generally hypothesis-generating studies rather than confirmatory studies.” These studies can show associations but not prove one thing caused the other to happen—a major hurdle for research on the harms of being exposed to various aspects of the environment.
A key question to answer, then, if it’s suspected that outside temperature can impact a child in the womb: What’s the biological explanation for how that could happen?
As of yet, the necessary research to answer that question hasn’t been done, though there are “lots of plausible ties,” Mendola said. Pregnant women, for example, are less able to regulate the temperature of their bodies, which was one reason it made sense to Basu to study the effects of temperature on pregnancy in the first place. Stress from a rising body temperature could also trigger an inflammatory response that constricts a pregnant woman’s blood vessels, making it harder for blood carrying oxygen and other essentials to get to the placenta and putting the baby at risk, Loy said.
“We’ll be seeing more and more of this evidence.”
The dehydration that accompanies overheating could also play a role, as it decreases the amount of amniotic fluid in the womb, which is associated with fetal death. And there may even be temperature-sensitive proteins in the blood vessels of the placenta and fetus that cause the vessels to get wider, dropping blood pressure and threatening blood supply to the fetus through another theoretical mechanism, said Eric Benner, a neonatologist at Duke University.
McCormick also wonders if there is a window of time within pregnancy when a baby in utero is particularly vulnerable to heat, and if a prolonged exposure to warm temperatures throughout pregnancy—or an extreme but short heat wave—is more hazardous. Does temperature have to rise beyond a threshold? If so, what is it?
Even repeating the same types of studies that have already been done, with new datasets, would be valuable, the researchers suggest. “Really, some of the grunt work of replication is needed right now,” Bruckner said. “It’s not so flashy.”
Basu and others, including Ha, who has taken a new position at the University of California, Merced, see enough intriguing evidence to continue their research. “We’ll be seeing more and more of this evidence,” Basu said. “It’s just not there quite yet.”
Nonetheless, McCormick would like to see pregnant women included in public-health advisories about heat that currently target the elderly. “I do think that we have enough research at this point to be concerned about pregnant women as a vulnerable population,” she said. “We should be warning pregnant women about the risks of heat.” Unlike other sources of risk for stillbirth, heat is something pregnant women can try to avoid or combat, such as by spending time in air-conditioning and staying hydrated, the researchers say.
“It’s pretty much everybody in this population is exposed,” Basu said. “It has the ability to really affect a lot of people.”
Sept 15th 2018
Heat killed a record number of people in Phoenix last year as days, nights grow warmer
Heat killed 172 people in the Phoenix area last year, a record for a second consecutive year as rising temperatures take a worsening toll in the country’s hottest major city.
Health officials recently revised the 2017 tally of heat-associated deaths in Maricopa County, raising it from 155 after concluding a number of pending investigations.
The updated toll is 11 percent higher than the 150 heat-related deaths recorded in 2016, and more than double the 85 deaths tallied in 2015.
The climbing figures show the Phoenix area has a great deal of work to do in expanding efforts to prevent heat-related deaths and illnesses. The area has been getting hotter because of the combined effects of human-caused climate change and the local urban heat-island effect.
Those effects have pushed more days and nights above temperature thresholds that threaten outdoor workers, the elderly and other vulnerable people.
So far this year, health officials have confirmed 18 heat-related deaths. Although that's fewer than at this time last year, the causes of 128 deaths are still under investigation.
At the same time last year, 33 deaths were confirmed and 131 deaths were under investigation.
The first confirmed death this year occurred in May. Officials don't expect to have a final tally until the heat season is over, well into fall.
"The issue is understanding if we have a true decrease in cases," said Kate Goodin, an epidemiologist with the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. "It appears to be a decrease."
Goodin said it's vital for people in the area to understand the dangers of heat. In her eyes, 100 percent of heat deaths don't have to happen.
"Everyone’s at risk all of the time," she said. "People need to be aware of the choices that they’re making as far as their activities and taking appropriate steps to mitigate those if they can’t abstain from those activities."
The autopsies from this year bear similarities to those from past years.
In one confirmed case in March, a 63-year-old man succumbed to heat and cardiovascular disease, collapsing on the searing sidewalk near his house.
In another, an 82-year-old woman died two months after a tumble in the sun at her home left her with third-degree burns on a quarter of her body.
One hot day in May, a 36-year-old woman was found unresponsive but faintly breathing on another person's front lawn. According to the autopsy report, she had knocked on the front door asking for help calling 911.
The medical examiner ruled the cause was environmental hyperthermia, when the body stops normally regulating heat. The autopsy found she died after her body temperature reached 108.7 degrees.
A 12-year-old boy also fell victim to the heat in Pinal County. The boy, who had autism, was walking down a street in Coolidge on Aug. 1 when he collapsed on the hot asphalt. The autopsy determined that he died of hyperthermia and dehydration.
READ OUR SPECIAL REPORT ON HEAT:
Days and nights getting warmer
The health department began tracking heat-associated deaths in Arizona's most populous county more than a decade ago, in 2006. Since then, the heat-surveillance program has produced detailed data about who dies of heat-related causes.
Last year, an Arizona Republic analysis of 2016's deaths found that the rising number of people dying from heat pointed to potential blind spots in county and state public-safety programs.
The spike coincided with an increased number of men and women sleeping on the streets. From 2016 to 2017, 413 more people in Maricopa County were classified as experiencing unsheltered homelessness in the county's point-in-time count. Even more — 559 more people — were reported being unsheltered this year.
It's unclear why the number of deaths appears to have decreased somewhat this year, Goodin said. It might be because of a mix of public awareness programs, like the heat-readiness program launched in Phoenix, which has offered cooling centers and water distribution.
The slight decrease in deaths, if it holds, could also be because of more intervention with the homeless.
Last year, 2017, was the hottest on record in Phoenix.
This summer brought supercharged heat across the country. Nationwide data for June through August show the continental United States had the warmest overnight lows in 124 years of record-keeping. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the hot nights translated into the country's fourth-hottest summer on record, tying with 1934.
In Phoenix, the average temperatures made this summer the 13th-warmest on record. The city had its seventh-hottest July.
The trend stands out in the average summertime highs over the past several decades. In the 1980s, Phoenix’s average June-August high was slightly over 105 degrees. During the past 10 years, the average high was about 106 degrees, nearly 1 degree hotter.
Nighttime temperatures have warmed even more. In the 1980s, the average nighttime low from June-August was under 81 degrees in Phoenix. Over the past 10 years, it’s been nearly 83 degrees — a full 2 degrees warmer.
Part of the increase in temperatures has resulted from the vast areas that are paved over with concrete and asphalt. Without shade, city streets and parking lots soak up the heat from the scorching sun, and then radiate it at night, making the area a “heat island.”
How do heat deaths happen?
Homeless people account for a disproportionately large share of heat deaths in Maricopa County — in some years 15 percent to 20 percent or more of all heat-associated deaths, said David Hondula, an Arizona State University scientist who studies heat and health.
“In Phoenix, although we certainly have heat waves, the entire summer is dangerous,” Hondula said.
People who work outdoors are especially vulnerable to heat. In one recent study focusing on community-level data in Los Angeles County, researchers found that for each percentage increase in residents working in construction, there was a 7.9 percent increase the number of heat-related hospitalizations.
This year, 72 percent of injuries leading to heat deaths in Maricopa County were sustained outside, according to the health department. The vast majority of those who died were 50 or older.
The annual figures show the highest rate of heat-related deaths among elderly people, but the largest numbers of deaths have been occurring in the middle-aged group, from ages 45 to 64, and men die at a much higher rate than women, Hondula said.
Extreme heat isn’t just an outdoor problem, though. People also regularly perish from indoor heat. Sometimes, they’re people living alone with inadequate air conditioning.
MORE: What to do if your air conditioning breaks in midsummer
Officials confirmed that in at least four cases this year, air conditioning was not functioning.
“There is certainly a notion out there that heat is an everyday occurrence and that somebody else is at risk from heat, and unfortunately that perception costs people lives,” Hondula said. “We all face some danger, and that means we not only need to be thinking about ourselves but also our neighbors and family members and friends.
"Heat can be a sneaky, silent killer," Hondula added. "And remaining as vigilant as we can is quite important.”
In California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment report, which was published last month, the authors cited a study that estimated there could be 6,700 to 11,300 additional deaths each year in the state by 2050 under a “high-emission scenario.”
Arizona hasn’t recently done a statewide climate change assessment like California’s. The state should have an assessment because it’s important to look at factors ranging from demographics to infrastructure, which vary from state to state, said David Eisenman, a public health professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“There hasn’t been sort of a broad look at what are the programs that Arizona needs,” said Eisenman, who studies how communities can reduce heat-related illnesses and deaths. “It’s really important to start to figure out who is at risk in your state, what are the underlying social trends that are affecting the risk.”
MORE: Summer nights were hottest on record across the country
The lethal mix of heat and drugs
Goodin said the county has seen a dramatic increase starting in 2015 of heat-related deaths coinciding with substance abuse.
In 2017, 41 percent of all heat-associated deaths involved some kind of substance abuse; the largest proportion was drug-involved. The number has tripled since 2015.
"Communitywide, we’ve seen an increase in the amount and use of substances," Goodin said.
Eisenman said researchers and communities should be examining how opiate addiction may be increasing risks, and how drug use mixes with other problems, like homelessness.
“Opiates do increase body temperature and brain temperature, and so they probably make you more vulnerable to heat,” he said.
The effects of meth mixed with heat may be even worse, he said. Meth can increase a user’s body temperature, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
“You’re just that much more likely to have a heat stroke,” Eisenman said. “Your brain and body, its ability to handle heat, is impaired even more than it was normally.”
Heat-related deaths often start occurring at different temperature thresholds in different parts of the country. When heat surpasses those local thresholds for days on end, the situation becomes more dangerous.
Fighting heat deaths
Phoenix is working on a first-of-its-kind heat readiness program, aiming to address immediate needs, such as having cooling centers open for people who need them, and making longer-term improvements, such as planting trees to bring neighborhoods more shade.
“Heat is an environmental problem that it’s now time for cities to be taking on,” Hondula said. "It is time to act."
He said although Phoenix and other cities have effective programs focusing on heat, much more should be done. He suggests cities develop a “big picture” of how they plan to address heat by articulating goals and management.
“I think ultimately for us to succeed in fully tackling the heat problem in central Arizona, it is likely we are going to need to either raise more resources or do a better job of organizing our resources,” Hondula said. “Arizona’s cities need more of an institutional focus on heat and all of the social and economic challenges it poses.”
And that doesn’t mean focusing solely on heat-related deaths. Although deaths are an important and preventable problem, heat also has significant health effects for many people, Hondula said, and surveys in the county have shown that one out of three people say their health is negatively affected by the heat.
Efforts to address a host of social problems can help people who are particularly vulnerable and decrease the numbers of deaths, Eisenman said.
“For instance, getting the homeless off of the street will also help reduce the numbers of people who die from heat," he said.
And with some deaths involving drugs, he said, treatment programs could help reduce the number of deaths.
Sept 3rd 2018
UK Weather: 2018 was England's hottest summer on record, Met Office reveals
Average temperatures for June to August in England narrowly beat those seen in 1976, forecasters have confirmed
This year was the joint hottest summer on record for the UK as a whole and the hottest for England, the Met Office has revealed.
UK temperatures for June to August 2018 reveal that this year is top of the league table in records dating back to 1910, along with 2006, 2003 and 1976, all of which are within 0.03C of each other.
England saw its hottest summer on record, with average temperatures narrowly beating those seen in 1976.
But it is not the warmest for the other nations of the UK, the figures show.
Summer 2018 was notably dry and sunny, although the dry, sweltering conditions seen in much of the country in June and July gave way to a much more average August, the Met Office said
The scorching summer could lead to an autumn of "above-average" temperatures.
The three-month outlook, covering August, September and October, shows "an increased chance of high-pressure patterns close to the UK".
Sea surface temperatures at "near-record levels" following the hot weather also make above-average temperatures more likely, according to the long-range prediction system.
The report said: "This would result in more settled UK weather conditions overall.
"The likelihood of above-average temperatures is greater than normal, but while the chances of below-average temperatures are considerably smaller, they remain a realistic possibility."
Temperatures are forecast to be in the high teens and early 20s towards the weekend.
To the nearest 0.1C, the years - 2018, 2006, 2003 and 1976 - saw an average temperature for the summer of 15.8C (60.4F).
In the Central England Temperature (CET) series, which only covers an area of central England but dates back to 1659, this summer slips behind 1976 and 1826 for the hottest June to August.
Only 10 summers in the CET series have recorded average temperatures above 17C, six of which have occurred since 1976 and only two of which were pre-20th century.
This is consistent with the general picture of the climate warming globally and in the UK, the Met Office said.
Aug 13th 2018
Imagine a city at 50C (122F). The pavements are empty, the parks quiet, entire neighbourhoods appear uninhabited. Nobody with a choice ventures outside during daylight hours. Only at night do the denizens emerge, HG Wells-style, into the streets – though, in temperatures that high, even darkness no longer provides relief. Uncooled air is treated like effluent: to be flushed as quickly as possible.
School playgrounds are silent as pupils shelter inside. In the hottest hours of the day, working outdoors is banned. The only people in sight are those who do not have access to air conditioning, who have no escape from the blanket of heat: the poor, the homeless, undocumented labourers. Society is divided into the cool haves and the hot have-nots.
Those without the option of sheltering indoors can rely only on shade, or perhaps a water-soaked sheet hung in front of a fan. Construction workers, motor-rickshaw drivers and street hawkers cover up head to toe to stay cool. The wealthy, meanwhile, go from one climate-conditioned environment to another: homes, cars, offices, gymnasiums, malls.
Asphalt heats up 10-20C higher than the air. You really could fry an egg on the pavement. A dog’s paws would blister on a short walk, so pets are kept behind closed doors. There are fewer animals overall; many species of mammals and birds have migrated to cooler environments, perhaps at a higher altitude – or perished. Reptiles, unable to regulate their body temperatures or dramatically expand their range, are worst placed to adapt. Even insects suffer.
Maybe in the beginning, when it was just a hot spell, there was a boom in spending as delighted consumers snapped up sunglasses, bathing suits, BBQs, garden furniture and beer. But the novelty quickly faded when relentless sunshine became the norm. Consumers became more selective. Power grids are overloaded by cooling units. The heat is now a problem.
The temperature is recalibrating behaviour. Appetites tend to fade as the body avoids the thermal effect of food and tempers are quicker to flare – along, perhaps, with crime and social unrest. But eventually lethargy sets in as the body shuts down and any prolonged period spent outdoors becomes dangerous.
You could see the physical change. Road surfaces started to melt …
Hospitals see a surge in admissions for heat stress, respiratory problems and other illnesses exacerbated by high temperatures. Some set up specialist wards. The elderly, the obese and the sick are most at risk. Deaths rise.
At 50C – halfway to water’s boiling point and more than 10C above a healthy body temperature – heat becomes toxic. Human cells start to cook, blood thickens, muscles lock around the lungs and the brain is choked of oxygen. In dry conditions, sweat – the body’s in-built cooling system – can lessen the impact. But this protection weakens if there is already moisture in the air.
A so-called “wet-bulb temperature” (which factors in humidity) of just 35C can be fatal after a few hours to even the fittest person, and scientists warn climate change will make such conditions increasingly common in India, Pakistan, south-east Asia and parts of China. Even under the most optimistic predictions for emissions reductions, experts say almost half the world’s population will be exposed to potentially deadly heat for 20 days a year by 2100.
Not long ago, 50C was considered an anomaly, but it is increasingly widespread. Earlier this year, the 1.1 million residents of Nawabshah, Pakistan, endured the hottest April ever recorded on Earth, as temperatures hit 50.2C. In neighbouring India two years earlier, the town of Phalodi sweltered in 51C – the country’s hottest ever day.
Dev Niyogi, professor at Purdue University, Indiana, and chair of the Urban Environment department at the American Meteorological Society, witnessed how cities were affected by extreme heat on a research trip to New Delhi and Pune during that 2015 heatwave in India, which killed more than 2,000 people.
“You could see the physical change. Road surfaces started to melt, neighbourhoods went quiet because people didn’t go out and water vapour rose off the ground like a desert mirage,” he recalls.
“We must hope that we don’t see 50C. That would be uncharted territory. Infrastructure would be crippled and ecosystem services would start to break down, with long-term consequences.”
Several cities in the Gulf are getting increasingly accustomed to such heat. Basra – population 2.1 million – registered 53.9C two years ago. Kuwait City and Dohahave experienced 50C or more in the past decade. At Quriyat, on the coast of Oman, overnight temperatures earlier this summer remained above 42.6C, which is believed to be the highest “low” temperature ever recorded in the world.
At Mecca, the two million hajj pilgrims who visit each year need ever more sophisticated support to beat the heat. On current trends, it is only a matter of time before temperatures exceed the record 51.3C reached in 2012. Last year, traditionalists were irked by plans to install what are reportedly the world’s biggest retractable umbrellas to provide shade on the courtyards and roof of the Great Mosque. Air conditioners weighing 25 tonnes have been brought in to ventilate four of the biggest tents. Thousands of fans already cool the marble floors and carpets, while police on horseback spray the crowds with water.
The blast of furnace-like heat ... literally feels life-threatening and apocalyptic
Football supporters probably cannot expect such treatment at the Qatar World Cup in 2022, and many may add to the risks of hyperthermia and dehydration by taking off their shirts and drinking alcohol. Fifa is so concerned about conditions that it has moved the final from summer to a week before Christmas. Heat is also why Japanese politicians are now debating whether to introduce daylight saving time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics so that marathon and racewalk athletes can start at what is currently 5am and avoid mid-afternoon temperatures that recently started to pass 40C with humidity of more than 80%.
At the Australian open in Melbourne this year – when ambient temperatures reached 40C – players were staggering around like “punch-drunk boxers” due to heatstroke. Even walking outside can feel oppressive at higher temperatures. “The blast of furnace-like heat ... literally feels life-threatening and apocalyptic,” says Nigel Tapper, professor of environmental science at Melbourne’s Monash University, of the 48C recorded in parts of the city. “You cannot move outside for more than a few minutes.”
The feeling of foreboding is amplified by the increased threat of bush and forest fires, he adds. “You cannot help but ask, ‘How can this city operate under these conditions? What can we do to ensure that the city continues to provide important services for these conditions? What can we do to reduce temperatures in the city?’”
Those places already struggling with extreme heat are doing what they can. In Ahmedabad, in Gujarat, hospitals have opened specialist heat wards. Australian cities have made swimming pools accessible to the homeless when the heat creeps above 40C, and instructed schools to cancel playground time. In Kuwait, outside work is forbidden between noon and 4pm when temperatures soar.
But many regulations are ignored, and companies and individuals underestimate the risks. In almost all countries, hospital admissions and death rates tend to rise when temperatures pass 35C – which is happening more often, in more places. Currently, 354 major cities experience average summer temperatures in excess of 35C; by 2050, climate change will push this to 970, according to the recent “Future We Don’t Want” study by the C40 alliance of the world’s biggest metropolises. In the same period, it predicts the number of urban dwellers exposed to this level of extreme heat will increase eightfold, to 1.6 billion.
As baselines shift across the globe, 50C is also uncomfortably near for tens of millions more people. This year, Chino, 50km (30 miles) from Los Angeles, hit a record of 48.9C, Sydney saw 47C, and Madrid and Lisbon also experienced temperatures in the mid-40s. New studies suggest France “could easily exceed”50C by the end of the century while Australian cities are forecast to reach this point even earlier. Kuwait, meanwhile, could sizzle towards an uninhabitable 60C.
How to cool dense populations is now high on the political and academic agenda, says Niyogi, who last week co-chaired an urban climate symposium in New York. Cities can be modified to deplete heat through measures to conserve water, create shade and deflect heat. In many places around the world, these steps are already under way.
The city at 50C could be more tolerable with lush green spaces on and around buildings; towers with smart shades that follow the movement of the sun; roofs and pavements painted with high-albedo surfaces; fog capture and renewable energy fields to provide cooling power without adding to the greenhouse effect.
But with extremes creeping up faster than baselines, Niyogi says this adapting will require changes not just to the design of cities, but how they are organised and how we live in them. First, though, we have to see what is coming – which might not hit with the fury of a flood or typhoon but can be even more destructive.
“Heat is different,” says Niyogi. “You don’t see the temperature creep up to 50C. It can take people unawares.”
July 30th 2018
The surprising symptoms of sunstroke you may not have known
Sunstroke isn't really anything to do with sunburn at all.
In case you've been on lockdown for the past month, stuck inside with your blackout blinds padlocked to the windowsill, you'll be aware that the UK is experiencing something of a heatwave.
Temperatures have reached the mid-thirties and, quite frankly, we don't know how to cope. If you're not holed up inside a delightfully air-conditioned office () nine-to-five, it's more important than ever to make sure you're being safe in the sun, or else you could end up with sunstroke.
Sunstroke, contrary to popular belief, is not simply hyperbole for a bit of bad sunburn. In fact, it's got very little to do with sun burn at all, as Dr Emma Wedgeworth, Consultant Dermatologist and British Skin Foundationspokesperson told Cosmopolitan.com/uk.
'The medical definition of sunstroke (also known as heat stroke) is a core body temperature of over 40 degrees Celsius,' Dr Wedgeworth explained. 'The reaction is more to the heat than to the sun itself. Whilst the skin on the outside shows signs of sunburn, inside your body, organs can be damaged as well.'
The doctor went on to describe how sunstroke can affect various different internal organ systems 'such as the brain, caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures often in combination with dehydration'.
It's because of this that some of the lesser known symptoms of sunstroke can occur. Sunstroke can be incredibly serious and can lead to:
· Changes in behaviour
· Confusion seizures
'Paradoxically, despite the high temperatures, people suffering from sunstroke may not actually sweat,' Dr Wedgeworth noted.
Other, more commonly known symptoms of sunstroke – or heat stroke, as it's also referred to – include:
· A throbbing headache
· Red sore skin
· Nausea and vomiting
· Muscle weakness
Milder effects from overexposure to heat can include 'heat-related fainting, heat exhaustion and heat cramps', said the expert.
The reason sunstroke can affect your organ systems is because 'your body’s cells require a very specific temperature range to ensure that all the machinery works properly'.
'If the body is subjected to either temperatures that are too hot or too cold, it can damage the way organs, such as your brain, work,' explained Dr Wedgeworth, adding: 'People at the extremes of age and those with chronic health problems are most at risk.'
What to do if you've got sunstroke
'True sun stroke is a medical emergency, so you need to seek medical attention as soon as possible,' said the doctor. 'Whilst doing that, move to a cool shady area, remove unnecessary clothing. Use fans or sponges with cool water to encourage temperature reduction and stop any exercise immediately.'
July 28th 2018
Did you know you should be applying your sunscreen with a teaspoon? Well, kind of..
Do you find you apply your sunscreen in the morning then by the cocktail hour you’re burnt?
Do you end up resorting to more expensive brands and ever higher SPFs in an attempt to protect your porcelain complexion from cindering?
Apparently, most of us are not getting the ultraviolet radiation blocking benefit of our sunscreen because we are simply not applying our products thickly enough.
Bare with me…
When sunscreen manufacturers calculate the SPF protection they write on the bottle, they work it out based on 2mg of cream per cm2 of skin. However, this study finds that the majority of people use just 0.8mg for the same area which equates, generally, to less than half of the SPF protection promised by the product.
The results showed for example that applying SPF 50 in this way would at best provide 40 per cent of the expected protection.
Report author Anthony Young, Professor of Experimental Photobiology at KCL, said that an average-sized woman wearing a bikini in the sun should be applying suncream at least three times a day. As a result, she should be going through one 100ml bottle of lotion per day.
There goes our hand luggage allowance.
“Most people who use an SPF 20 sunscreen will actually be getting something like SPF 4 because they aren’t applying enough,” says Young. “They overestimate the protection they are getting and they stay out in the sun too long and get burned.”
So how do you know if you’re using enough? Well, luckily the boffins at Kings College have a handy way of measuring the right amount. And it’s in your kitchen.
They suggest sun worshippers should apply at least half a teaspoon (3ml) to each arm, the face and neck. A full teaspoon (6ml) should then be applied to each leg, and the front and back of the body.
“There is no dispute that sunscreen provides important protection against the cancer causing impact of the sun's ultra violet rays,” continues Professor Young. “However, what this research shows is that the way sunscreen is applied plays an important role in determining how effective it is.”
Nina Goad of the British Association of Dermatologists said: “This research demonstrates why it's so important to choose an SPF of 30 or more. In theory, an SPF of 15 should be sufficient, but we know that in real-world situations, we need the additional protection offered by a higher SPF.”
Basically, apply a little more (OK twice as much) than you thought necessary, and top up at lunch and afternoon sangria time.
And if you can’t be bothered with all that, stick to a higher SPF. As you were, sun lounger lizards, as you were.
July 26th 2018
Heatwaves could kill 7,000 a year by 2050 'unless government takes action'
The number of people dying in heatwaves will triple over the next three decades unless the government takes urgent action, MPs have warned.
As the UK swelters in record-breaking temperatures, a damning report from the Commons Environmental Audit Committee published on Thursday accused the government of “playing pass the parcel” with the issue of potentially-deadly weather conditions.
According to the report, heatwaves reaching record highs of 38.5C will hit the UK every other year by the 2040s, while the average number of heat-related deaths is expected to reach 7,000 a year by 2050.
Warning that cautions around heatwaves are currently welcomed as “barbeque alerts”, committee chair Mary Creagh called on the government to develop a strategy “to protect our ageing population”.
“Heatwaves cause premature deaths from cardiac, kidney and respiratory disease,” the Labour MP said, adding that they also threaten “wellbeing and productivity”.
Almost 2,200 people in the UK died in just 10 days in August 2003 after temperatures hit 38.5C in England.
Meanwhile, the committee discovered that hospitals currently overheat to 30C when the temperature is just 22C outside, and that only half of the UK’s major roads are surfaced with materials designed to withstand high temperatures.
As part of far-reaching proposals to tackle the issue, MPs have called on the government to appoint a dedicated health minister to deal with the effects of rising temperatures.
The NHS should also issue plans for summer pressures in line with its winter preparations, the committee said, while building regulations should be changed to prevent overheating.
Finally, the report recommended that the government look into introducing maximum workplace temperatures and called for Public Health England to issue guidance to schools and employers about relaxing dress codes during periods of hot weather.
Rachel Kennerley, a climate campaigner with environmental organisation Friends of the Earth, said ministers “must stop turning a blind eye to the deadly impacts of a warming planet”.
“With climate change predicted to make severe weather events, like heatwaves, more frequent, the government must pull the plug on short-sighted policies that help send the mercury soaring and endanger lives,” she added.
“The government must end its addiction to fossil-fuelled developments, such as fracking, airport expansion and new roads. If they don’t the current deadly heatwave could become the new normal.”
A government spokesperson said it is "taking robust action to ensure our country is resilient and prepared for the challenges a changing climate brings".
“We will continue to support vulnerable people across society by issuing public health alerts during spells of hot weather, providing advice to schools, and taking steps to tackle overheating risks in new homes," they continued.
“Our long-term plan for climate change adaptation sets out ongoing work and investment to make sure food and water supplies are protected, businesses and communities are properly prepared and the right infrastructure is in place.
“The government will carefully consider each of the report’s recommendations.”
The report comes as temperatures are expected to hit 37C in parts of the UK.
A fire alarm at a hospital in Hampshire was triggered on Tuesday after temperatures hit 50C and charities have warned that tensions are at risk of flaring in Britain’s prisons as jails fail to cope with the heatwave.
July 22nd 2018
Warning issued after hundreds treated for sunburn during heatwave in UK
A sunburn warning has been issued by Public Health England (PHE) after a spike in hospitalisations during the heatwave.
It urged people to take proper precautions, including using sun cream and wearing protective clothing, after 220 people were hospitalised, over the last two months.
The Belfast Trust saw the highest number of patients, 69, needing treatment for sunburn, PHE warned that just one incident of sunburn could double the risk of malignant melanoma - a type of skin cancer.
“Our advice is to think about what you’re doing in the sun and use some common sense - know the limits of your own skin, don’t stay out in strong sunshine for too long, wear wraparound sunglasses, wear a hat, cover up with light clothing and if you need to, seek shade during the hottest parts of the day and use sunscreen that’s at least factor 15, which also has good UV-A protection," said PHE's Professor John O’Hagan.
The warning came amid concerns that more people could be admitted to hospital across the UK as the hot weather shows no signs of slowing down in the coming weeks.
Forecasters have predicted that the hottest day of the year could be on the cards next week with temperatures reaching 34C in some parts of the country on Wednesday.
“Temperatures throughout all next week into next weekend could remain hot,” said Met Office meteorologist Mark Wilson.
“Wednesday we could see 33C to 34C. It won’t be everywhere; it will be particularly the southeast and London.
“34C is very hot indeed and there will be high levels of humidity for some places so it will feel muggy and humid.”
Mr Wilson also advised the public to take care in the high levels of UV. “If you are exposed to the sun seek shade, cover up, use sun tan lotion, drink lots of water and check on the vulnerable such as the elderly and the very young,” he said.
Despite warnings to stay out of the sun, it is likely that Brits will prepare to dash outside and top up their tans regardless, making sun cream an absolute necessity.
However, new YouGov research on the nation’s sun cream habits has revealed that almost a quarter (23 per cent) do not apply it during the summer or when on holiday, with men twice as likely to forego protection (31 per cent vs 15 per cent.)
According to the NHS, sun cream should be applied to all exposed skin, including the face, neck and ears 30 minutes before you go out in the sun.
Adults should apply two teaspoons of sunscreen but two tablespoons are required if you’re covering the entire body while wearing a swimsuit.
This is because applying it too thinly can cause a reduction in the amount of protection it gives. It’s also important to reapply liberally and frequently after you’ve been in water, towel drying or sweating.
July 1st 2018
Up to 40mm of rain possible as first thunderstorm warning is issued
The Met Office has issued its first ever thunderstorm warning with torrential rain, hail and lightning predicted across parts of the south..
The yellow 'be aware' warning is for South West England and South Wales and will be in effect from 6am-10pm on Sunday.
It comes as the UK continues to be in the grip of a heatwave that is expected to last for several more days.
The Met Office said the heavy rain could lead to flooded homes and businesses and difficult driving conditions.
Forecasters said: "Some 30mm-40mm of rain in an hour is possible. Where surface water flooding or lightning impacts do occur they are likely to be in only a few places rather than across the whole warning area.
"The greatest chance of impacts is in the afternoon, with the risk decreasing again on Sunday evening."
The Met Office said recently it would be bringing in two new types of weather warnings - one for thunderstorms, and the other for lightning.
This is the first time the thunderstorm alert has been officially put out.
Meanwhile, despite the weather warning, millions of customers are being asked to conserve water supplies by not using hosepipes or water sprinklers.
June 21st 2017
It is very hot in the UK so please take extra care
please read any helpfull tips you can find
May 26th 2017
Britain could roast on the record hottest May day for 176 years this week before thunderstorms wash out Bank Holiday Monday, forecasters say.
The mercury is set to hit the "low 30s" as a tropical blast moves in on Friday and Saturday leaving a "chance" of smashing the 32.8C May temperature record.
That was set on on May 22, 1922 at Camden Square, London, and May 29, 1944, at Horsham, West Sussex, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and Regent's Park, London. Met Office records began in 176 years ago in 1841.
Northern England and Scotland are both due 28C while Britain will be hotter than 29C Phuket, Thailand, and 27C Mexico City.
March 27th 2017
The fingerprint of human-caused climate change has been found on heatwaves, droughts and floods across the world, according to scientists.
The discovery indicates that the impacts of global warming are already being felt by society and adds further urgency to the need to cut carbon emissions. A key factor is the fast-melting Arctic, which is now strongly linked to extreme weather across Europe, Asia and north America.
Rising greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have long been expected to lead to increasing extreme weather events, as they trap extra energy in the atmosphere. But linking global warming to particular events is difficult because the climate is naturally variable.
The new work analysed a type of extreme weather event known to be caused by changes in “planetary waves” – such as California’s ongoing record drought, and recent heatwaves in the US and Russia, as well as severe floods in Pakistan in 2010.
Planetary waves are a pattern of winds, of which the jet stream is a part, that encircle the northern hemisphere in lines that undulate from the tropics to the poles. Normally, the whole wave moves eastwards but, under certain temperature conditions, the wave can halt its movement. This leaves whole regions under the same weather for extended periods, which can turn hot spells into heatwaves and wet weather into floods.
This type of extreme weather event is known to have increased in recent decades. But the new research used observations and climate models to show that the chances of the conditions needed to halt the planetary waves occurring are significantly more likely as a result of global warming.
“Human activity has been suspected of contributing to this pattern before, but now we uncover a clear fingerprint of human activity,” said Prof Michael Mann, at Pennsylvania State University in the US and who led the study pulished in the journal Scientific Reports.
Kai Kornhuber, at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany and another member of the research team, said: “We looked into dozens of different climate models, as well as into observational data, and it turns out that the temperature distribution favouring planetary wave stalling increased in almost 70% of the simulations.”
Large scale wind patterns are largely driven by the temperature difference between the poles and the tropics. But global warming is altering this difference because the Arctic is heating up faster than lower latitudes and because land areas are heating up faster than the oceans.
Recent changes in the Arctic are particularly striking, with record low levels of ice cover and extremely unusual high temperatures. “Things in the Arctic are happening much faster than we expected,” said Prof Stefan Rahmstorf, also at PIK.
“It is not just a problem of nature conservation or polar bears, it is about a threat to human society that comes from these rapid changes,” he said. “This is because it hits us with increasing extreme events in the highly populated centres in the mid-latitudes. It also affects us through sea level rise, which is hitting shores globally. So these changes that are going on in the Arctic should concern everyone.”
Other climate research, called attribution, is increasingly able to calculate how much more likely specific extreme weather events have been made by global warming. For example, the heatwave in south-eastern Australia in February was made twice as likely by climate change, while Storm Desmond, which caused heavy flooding in the UK in 2015, was made 40% more likely.
The UK was hammered by almost 20,000 lightning strikes - but it is set to sizzle in temperatures hotter than Mumbai.
Thousands of bolts hit the ground throughout in a "fearsome" storm on Tuesday with enough power to boil 90 million cups of tea.
A total of 19,319 strikes were recorded in 14 hours to 9pm on last night according to Met Office lightning detection data.
Netweather forecaster Paul Michaelwhite said: “This was the most fearsome storm for years for the Midlands and North-West, with continuous lightning, floods and hail around the size of £1 coins.”
The Met Office said the number of bolts is seven times higher than an average lightning storm’s 3,000 strikes.
Met Office forecaster Grahame Madge said: “It was unusual to have such intense lightning at this time of year, with dramatic impacts.”
Meanwhile the Met Office forecast 30C temperatures for Thursday – 13C above average and hotter than Mumbai, India, which is set for 29C.
Wednesday's highs were around 32C followed while at 34.4C Tuesday was the hottest September day for 105 years.
The three-day roast is Britain’s hottest weather this late in the year since records began 165 years ago.
The previous record for the latest date 34C had ever been recorded was September 8, 1911, at Raunds, in Northamptonshire.
Spokesman Pete Williams said: “We’re very concerned about the accident call-outs spike.
"It seems drivers are losing concentration in the heat. Take extra care.”
An amber Government Level three heatwave warning - one tier below a national emergency – was announced today.
More deaths are expected after 536 more Brits than average died in the week temperatures hit 34C on August 24, Office of National Statistics data showed.
Public Health England’s Heatwave Plan for England said: “The rise in mortality as a result of very warm weather follows very sharply.”
And the Environment Agency has warned of more floods from Thursday afternoon and through Friday as deluges hit the Midlands, East and South.
The Met Office said temperatures would cool to the low 20s in time for the weekend.
Mr Madge said: “Thursday sees 30C possible for a third day – but Friday will cooler.
“A band of rain will cross the country, heaviest in the North, with fresher air following for the weekend.”
The Environment Agency said: “Showers from Thursday afternoon and through Friday across parts of central, north-east and the south and east of England may become heavy, causing flooding of properties, low lying land and roads.”
Temperatures reached 33.4C (92.1F) at Pershore on Tuesday afternoon, with the mercury predicted to reach 35C (95F) by the end of the day - making it hotter than Barcelona.
But forecasters have issued a yellow weather warning for rain, which is in force between 6pm on Tuesday and 9pm on Wednesday, due to the possibility of flash floods in northern England, north Wales and Scotland.
⚡️After the #hottestdayoftheyear comes #thunderstorms . Warnings have been issued https://t.co/TmvTfmDfrK ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/65KwmrUO3E
— Met Office (@metoffice)
The forecast predicts thunderstorms in Northern Ireland as early as Tuesday evening, with the bad weather moving east over the course of the evening and throughout Wednesday.
Up to 30mm of rain per hour is predicted in some parts of Northern England, Northern Ireland, North Wales and Scotland on Wednesday.
Along with the possibility of flash floods, the Met Office has predicted that some areas of the UK will also witness periods of lightening and hail.
The weather in the South is predicted to continue to be humid and warm, with highs of 22C on Tuesday evening and up to 30C on Wednesday.
The sweltering weather caused travel disruption, including rail delays at Paddington Station, one of London’s busiest railways.
The capital’s ambulance service said it had more than 300 calls than usual and the RSPCA also reported a spike in call from members as a result of the heat.
The Met Office declared a level 3 heatwave alert throughout the course of the day and Public Heath England has urged people to take care during hot weather.
People were advised to drink plenty of water and avoid dehydrating alcoholic and caffeinated drinks, close curtains and open windows to keeps rooms cool, and avoid leaving animals being in closed, parked vehicles.
There are also warnings to stay out of the sun between 11am and 3pm - the hottest times of the day - avoid physical exertion, and to wear a hat and sunscreen.
St John Ambulance has also issued advice, urging people to be aware of headaches, dizziness and cramp which can be signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Those with hay fever may suffer an additional pollen levels will be also high over the country for the next few days, causing havoc for hay fever sufferers - and there may be another restless night today as temperatures reach 22C (71.6F) overnight.
There are also warnings to stay out of the sun between 11am and 3pm, avoid physical exertion at the hottest times of the day and stay in the shade - and to put on a hat and wear sunscreen.
Dr Angie Bone, PHE's head of extreme events, said: "For some people - such as older people, those with underlying health conditions and those with young children - summer heat can bring real health risks.
"This summer we're urging people to keep an eye on those at-risk and if you're able, offer help to stay cool and hydrated."
St John Ambulance has also issued advice, urging people to be aware of headaches, dizziness and cramp that can be signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Clive James, from the charity, said: "Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are the most serious problems that can develop when the mercury soars, so it's essential that people can spot the signs - such as headache and dizziness - and get them somewhere cool and rehydrated as soon as possible."
Pollen levels will be high over the country for the next few days, causing havoc for hay fever sufferers - and there may be another restless night on Tuesday as temperatures reach 22C (71.6F) overnight.
The hot weather has been caused by a warm plume of air that has worked its way northwards from Spain, the Met Office said.
Forecaster Grahame Madge said temperatures from London to the West Midlands could reach 34C (93.2F) on Tuesday, before thunderstorms bring up to 50mm of rain and the possibility of flash-flooding - with a weather warning for everywhere north of a line stretching from Bristol to The Wash.
He said: "The July temperature record was set on July 1 last year with 36.7C (98.1F) at Heathrow.
"We are not suggesting that temperature will be exceeded by anything we have got this week, but the temperatures that we do have will be the warmest we have seen in the last 12 months."
Wednesday will see highs reaching the low 30Cs, but by Thursday fresher conditions from the Atlantic will bring temperatures down to the more comfortable mid-20Cs, reaching around 22C (71.6F) to 24C (75.2F) by Friday and Saturday.
Bookmaker Coral has offered odds-on at 10-11 that thermometers will reach 37.78 (100F) or higher anywhere in the UK this week, with 1-3 that there will be a hosepipe ban this summer.
Britain is gearing up for a mini-heatwave with 28C (81F) temperatures promising the hottest weekend of summer so far.
Thermometers will rise - although a nationwide divide will keep the best of the weather to the south of the UK.
Hay fever sufferers have been warned to keep the tissues handy with very high pollen levels forecast over the next few days.
Southern England can expect temperatures of 28C (81F) by Sunday, with the north slightly cooler at 21C (70F).
With high humidity, experts say it could feel close to 31C (88F) in parts of Britain as warm air floods in from the Continent.
However, rather than wall-to-wall sunshine and blue skies, forecasters predict another muggy, overcast and showery mix.
James Madden, forecaster for Exacta Weather, said this weekend is likely to bring the hottest day of the year so far.
He said: "Temperatures are set to rise significantly as summer returns to many parts of the country towards the weekend. Maximum temperatures should approach the high 20Cs in parts of southern England with other parts of the country seeing highs in the mid 20Cs."
"This is likely to bring the hottest day of the year."
Forecaster Emma Sharples said: "Towards the weekend the south will be in a warm, humid air mass and it won't take much to make temperatures jump into the 20Cs in the sunshine.
"We will probably end up with a bit of a split over the weekend with fresher conditions in the north while the south is warmer and more humid."
The Met Office is predicting very high pollen levels across southern England over the next few days with moderate to high levels elsewhere.
The changeable conditions are being blamed on low pressure over the Atlantic pulling unsettled weather fronts across Britain.
Netweather is forecasting a return to "summer-like" weather this weekend with warmth lasting into next week.
It said humidity of more than 90 per cent particularly in the southeast will make it feel close to 31C in some spots.
Forecaster Nick Finnis said: "On Sunday, we could be looking at temperatures reaching 25-27C across southern England, so hopefully a return to more summer-like conditions - the fine and warm conditions perhaps lasting into next week towards the south."
The mixed forecasts have kept bookies on their toes through summer as bets open on this month turning out to be a wet one.
Ladbrokes is offering 5-1 on the wettest July on record, with 2-1 on it turning out to be the warmest and 8-11 on the mercury hitting 30C by the end of the month.
Spokeswoman Jessica Bridge said: "Blighty's had beautiful weather recently but with Mother Nature deciding that the heavens should open we've been forced to open the betting on July being the wettest ever, as well as the warmest ever.
"Punters remain confident that the mercury will soar to 30C before the month's out, which is great news for sunseekers out there."
Dig out your sunnies and fire up the barbecue because Britain is set for its hottest May in more than 170 years.
After a stellar start to the summer, forecasters are giving sun seekers more reason to be cheerful, promising “heat wave after heat wave” throughout June and July.
But the onslaught of sweltering temperatures will return next week, they say, with thermometers expected to skyrocket to 30C.
Britain is set for a 33C hot summer boosting Wimbledon and Glastonbury - but the August school holiday could be in peril because of La Nina floods.
The Met Office long-range forecast - Britain’s most anticipated verdict on summer weather - favours hotter than normal temperatures over the next three months.
Government weathermen also said there is a 25% probability of temperatures being much higher than usual until the end of July.
Highs around 33C are expected as in previous years.
Temperatures of 36.7C were recorded in July 2015, 32C in July 2014, 33C in July 2013, 31C in July 2012, and 33C in June 2011.
The upbeat forecast is good news for revellers enjoying the Queen’s 90th Birthday Parade in June, Glastonbury, Wimbledon and the start of the school holidays.
A heatwave has Australia gripped in a seemingly endless summer, with a run of record-breaking temperatures even as autumn officially begins.
The Bureau of Meteorology has said the abnormal conditions were affecting almost the entire country in early March, the month which marks the start of autumn.
A lack of rain and cooler winds left the east coast suffering a prolonged stretch of hot and humid weather, it said in a special climate statement released on Friday.
Bureau climatologist Blair Trewin said Tuesday the heat was consistent with the "well-established warming trend in long-term average temperatures" in Australia and globally.
"With overall warming average temperatures you would expect to see more warm extremes and fewer cold extremes -- and that's exactly what we are seeing," Trewin told AFP.
The bureau said the extreme phase of the national heatwave ended around March 9-10, but temperatures remained generally above average.
On the east coast, Sydney continued to sweat with its Observatory Hill post notching up a record 39 consecutive days of the temperature reaching 26 degrees Celsius (79F) or above.
The previous record was 19 days set in March 2014.
"Sydney also had a record run of nights above 20 (Celsius)," said Trewin. "They had a run of 25 nights in a row above 20 which was terminated this morning by the narrowest possible margin -- it was 19.9."
Trewin said it was too early to say whether this would be the nation's hottest March, but a number of records had already been smashed with temperatures running 10 degrees above average in some areas.
The report said that over hottest part of the heatwave, maximum temperatures were 4 degrees Celsius or more above average over most of the continent but 8-12 degrees Celsius above average in much of the southeast.
The report said rainfall was significantly below normal in the country's tropical north, with the northern city of Darwin experiencing its driest January-February since 1965.
Persistent heatwave can be very uncomfortable for both humans and animals, and there are many deaths caused every year by sustained high temperatures, you must do everything you reasonably can to keep your body temperature out of the danger zone, make sure you drink plenty of fluids and wear the minimum of clothing.
Athletes usually do all they can during exercise and push their bodies to the limit whilst this is OK under normal circumstances it is unwise to do this during a hot spell as the results could prove fatal, young children and the elderly are very vulnerable to these conditions and usually account for the majority of fatalities.
These conditions are becoming more frequent as global warming has a greater effect on our planet, so it is increasingly important that you are aware of the danger and how best to cope with the circumstances, try and find a position where you can rest as much as possible preferably with some air movement and out of the sun, it is at these times that we most appreciate the benefits of electricity keeping our fans and air conditioning functioning
Perhaps this stage we should spare a thought for the less privileged in the third world countries, and if there is anything that you personally can do to help these unfortunate people please do so, one organization that comes to mind is Water-Aid who are doing their best to alleviate the suffering.
Have a look at our donations page where there are other not-for-profit charity sites listed which you can donate to if you wish, you will feel better about your day if you know you are doing some small thing to help the less fortunate in this world.
If you have never made a donation before you will be surprised how easy it is, everyone tries to make it as simple as possible so that there are no obstacles in the way of you subscribing.
If you look at the work these charities do you will find it difficult not to feel sympathy for the poor unfortunates that they are trying to help, do not distress yourself and feel thankful that there are people in the world trying to help.
If you are feeling sorry for yourself try making a visit to your local hospital and you will soon find there are many people much worse off than you are, whilst you are there to make a few enquiries as to whether they need some volunteers, there may be something you can do in your spare time.
Fortunately with modern communication systems most dangerous situations can be monitored easily and warnings issued by local
government, civil defense, police, local radio and television. check these buzcall pages every day and you will be up-to-date with the many things that can threaten you.