Cooling UK weather brings relief amid heat wave; transport disruptions continue after fires


After days of record heat, forecasters say relief is coming to the UK as temperatures drop and thunderstorms approach. Still, England faced transport disruption on Wednesday as the country recovered from heat-fueled fires.

Thunderstorms, cooler temperatures ahead

Heavy showers with a risk of thunderstorms were forecast for parts of England on Wednesday, with largely dry but cooler weather expected elsewhere in the UK, according to the Meteorological Office, the meteorological office of the United Kingdom.

‘Thunderstorms’ could disrupt transport in central and eastern England on Wednesday, Met Office meteorologist Alex Deakin said in a video forecast as the agency issued a yellow warning for thunderstorms in the area.

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With rain and cloudier weather cooling the region, Deakin said temperatures in the UK will still be above average, peaking at 86 degrees Fahrenheit, but “nowhere near as high as yesterday”. Tuesday, UK broke its highest temperature record with a provisionally recorded high of 40.3 Celsius. Temperatures were about 15 degrees Celsius lower on Wednesday than the day before, the office said.

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The scene of a fire is in the village of Wennington, east London, Tuesday July 19, 2022. The typically temperate nation of England is the latest to be hit by unusually hot and dry weather which has triggered wildfires from Portugal to the Balkans and led to hundreds of heat-related deaths.

Heat-related fires disrupt transport

London firefighters received 2,600 calls on Tuesday and at one point were battling 12 fires at once, making it the busiest day since World War II, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said. At least 41 properties were destroyed and 16 firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation and other injuries.

Wennington, a village on the eastern outskirts of London, was among the hardest hit by the flames. As rows of houses were destroyed by the fire, resident Tim Stock said he and his wife fled.

“It was like a war zone,” he said. “Down the main road, all the windows had blown out, all the roofs had collapsed, it was like a scene from the Blitz.”

The main train line from London to Edinburgh remained closed for part of Wednesday after a fire caused extensive damage to signaling equipment, according to the London North Eastern Railway. Damage to tracks, signaling equipment and overhead lines on UK rail networks has also been reported, the railway said.

London Luton Airport was also briefly closed due to heat damage to the runway. Trains were traveling at reduced speed for fear that the heat would warp the tracks.

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Even as temperatures cool on Wednesday, Khan told the BBC the threat of fire remained high after scorching weather in the days before the grasslands surrounding London dried up.

“Once it catches fire, it spreads incredibly fast, like wildfires like you see in the movies or the fires in California or parts of France…” Khan told the BBC.

The scene of a fire in the village of Wennington, east London, on Tuesday July 19, 2022. The typically temperate nation of England is the latest to be hit by unusually hot and dry weather which has sparked fires of forest from Portugal to the Balkans and led to hundreds of heat-related deaths.

The scene of a fire in the village of Wennington, east London, on Tuesday July 19, 2022. The typically temperate nation of England is the latest to be hit by unusually hot and dry weather which has sparked fires of forest from Portugal to the Balkans and led to hundreds of heat-related deaths.

Contribute: The Associated Press

Contact News Now Reporter Christine Fernando at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: UK Weather: Cold Temperatures, Thunderstorms, Threat of Fire