What the UK’s hottest day on record felt like

What the UK's hottest day on record felt like
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The bathing ponds of Hampstead Heath in north London attract city residents on Tuesday during Britain's historic heatwave.  (James Forde for The Washington Post)
The bathing ponds of Hampstead Heath in north London attract city residents on Tuesday during Britain’s historic heatwave. (James Forde for The Washington Post)


LONDON hottest day in britainWith temperatures topping 104 degrees Fahrenheit, we found Earthlings huddled next to the refrigerated section of the Marks & Spencer supermarket at Marylebone train station.

“I was standing here for about 10 minutes,” said Andy Martin, 28, a video technician. “Do not tell anyone”.

This is not normal here. This kind of heat. This heat wave.

The Weather Bureau, the nation’s weather service, reported that at least 34 locations in Britain exceeded the previous high temperature, with a wide swath of south-east and central England exceeding 40 degrees Celsius. That’s a hell of a 104 Fahrenheit.

A fire spread in Dagenham, East London, when temperatures exceeded 40 degrees Celsius or 104 Fahrenheit on July 19. (Video: Storyful)

Britain is not designed for this. The country’s houses and shops, its train stations and subway cars, its schools and offices, very, very few of them have air conditioning.

Has it ever been this hot in the history of mankind in the British Isles? Maybe not.

There was a kind of tremor, a feeling of anxiety in the capital on this appointed day. It was windy, but that dry sirocco-like wind, common in the Mediterranean, in Sicily, not in Southhampton, with the summer leaves rustling and people stumbling, from one patch of shade to another, while the ambulance crews kept busy, skinning heat stroke victims. off the sidewalks.

Walking into some of Britain’s hottest homes on the hottest day was like stepping into steam baths.

When reporters from The Washington Post entered some of the apartments at the Chalcots Estate, a public housing development in north-central London, they were met with a thick cloud of heat.

“Can you feel it? It’s so hot,” said Mandy Ryan, who works as a resident association representative.

He went into his living room and pointed to a ceiling fan, whose blades were turning slowly, and accused the device of being useless.

“That doesn’t do anything,” he said.

Like many residents in the tall tower just north of Regents Park, he has spectacular views of the London skyline.

Visualizing Europe’s heat wave with popsicles melting

She also has an excellent collection of cuckoo clocks and ceramic dog ornaments. But inside her house on Tuesday, the most striking thing was the stifling air.

Bonnie, her Labradoodle, panted heavily at her feet.

“We’re not having a leg of lamb for dinner tonight,” he joked, pointing to his unused oven.

John Szymanska, a handyman from Poland, was plastering and painting a flat in Hampstead, North London.

“It’s a pittance,” he said, drenched in sweat. “But what can you do?” he asked. “It’s hotter everywhere.”

Why this European heat wave is so scary

Unlike some immigrants, who might mention that they find the English weak in this heat, Szymanska offered sympathy. “I’m sorry for them. They are not used to this.

Back at the Chalcots Estate, Paul Rafis, 38, a butcher and hip-hop artist, was struggling.

His sofa bed was covered in fur. She explained that her dog, Wise, is shedding a lot. Not that Rafis is sleeping much.

“When it’s hot, you suffer in these blocks,” he said.

In his study on the 15th floor, Rafis was worried his refrigerator might catch on fire, so he turned it off for four hours and put the food in the freezer.

Some experts have said the fire that engulfed nearby Grenfell Tower in 2017, killing 72 people, may have been caused by overheated wiring in a fridge freezer.

“Nothing in the house is used to this weather,” Rafis said, tapping on his refrigerator, which felt warm again shortly after he plugged it back in.

Europe Sizzles in Record Heat Wave as Thousands Flee Wildfires

London’s underground tube can be notoriously hot, and no line has a worse reputation than Bakerloo.

“Anyone who enjoys a spot of paddling on rivers of molten lava should head to the Bakerloo line where they will feel right at home,” said Labor Party lawmaker Karen Buck. tweeted.

We entered Charing Cross station with some trepidation. There were industrial-size fans that forced air through the narrow corridors, but like a cave, deep underground, there were pockets of cool air on the platforms.

Inside the cars, he was quite ripe.

For Ángel Rodríguez, a Spanish-born kitchen worker on his way to his afternoon prep shift, the trip wasn’t as bad as he imagined it would be.

However, it was not philosophical. “It’s all of us,” he noted, saying climate change would only intensify and make things worse. He nodded when he remembered the headlines from his house, where huge forest fires have consumed parts of Spain.

Spain ravaged by wildfires amid record heat wave

The streets of London weren’t empty, but they were definitely quiet, with the city’s windows covered with curtains to block out the sun. The royal parks and their long lawns were mostly empty, with only a few strong souls spreading blankets in the shade of the trees.

The Lido, a public swimming pool on Parliament Hill, had a long line of people waiting to get in. In the water, children splashed around happily as lifeguards blew their whistles.

At Chalcots Estate, the playgrounds were childless. The authorities had even urged healthy young people and their parents to stay home.

Some residents told The Post that they had installed air conditioning (only 3 per cent of British households have it) or simply bought fans. Most, however, simply drank cool liquids and avoided the sun.

Some, although a minority, said they were embracing the heat.

“I’m sweating, but I love it,” Chantal Peters, 43, a mother of six, gushed.

She said things got worse two years ago when temperatures soared during a pandemic lockdown. “It was 34C, we were locked down. Now that was hot. That was disgusting.

Sean Walsh, who works in sales, was visiting his 71-year-old mother who lives in a top-floor apartment. His daughter had the day off from school because of the heat.

He called the weather “brutal”.

“It’s uncomfortable and hot, and this country is not designed for this heat,” he said. “The environment is changing and people are forgetting about it. All this concrete, in any big city, is a heat sink. You would be blind, Freddy, if you don’t read the research and see that this is going to continue and we have to adapt. ”

Especially in tall buildings, which radiate heat. “It multiplies,” Walsh said.

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