While new June temperature records were set in France, Germany and the Czech Republic on Wednesday and Thursday, forecasters have warned the hottest is yet to come.
At least three people have died in France and hundreds of firefighters are struggling to contain a wildfire in northeastern Spain as the so-called Saharan Bubble sweeps the continent.
In Britain, temperatures are expected to soar above 30C heading into the weekend.
According to the Met Office the temperature could reach a maximum of 34C in London and the east of England on Saturday.
The hottest conditions recorded in 2019 so far were at Weybourne in Norfolk on June 2, where the temperature reached 28.8C.
The highest ever temperature on record for June was 35.6C in 1976.
Summing up the UK weather for Friday, Greg Dewhurst, a Met Office meteorologist said: “It’s a bit of a cloudy start across some eastern parts of the country but this will soon clear and we’re looking at a sunny day for much of the UK.”
Mr Dewhurst said weather conditions will see an “east west split” with the highest temperatures in the west and an easterly breeze cooling the other half of the country.
Temperatures in Wales and the west country, including festival-goers at Glastonbury, could see temperatures of 30 or 31C on Friday.
Across Europe, hot Saharan winds have brought scorching weather with temperatures in some parts exceeding 40C.
Meteorologists put more than half of France on alert for high temperatures, while in Germany rescue services urged people to look out for young children, the elderly and others at risk in hot conditions.
France’s national weather service issued its highest-level danger alert as it warned that parts of the country could expect temperatures to reach an “exceptional peak” on Friday.
In Spain, a wildfire has forced the evacuation of 53 residents as it spread to at least 16,000 acres on Friday.
Firefighters said temperatures over 30C low humidity and high winds had fanned the flames.
As the heat gripped France, three swimmers died in separate incidents linked to the hot weather.
Meteo France raised the hazardous weather warning to “red” on Thursday – the highest level – for the Marseille and Montpellier areas in southeastern France.
It forecasted hazardous temperatures of 42C to 45C.
The Italian health ministry said seven cities, including Florence, Rome and Turin, were already at Italy’s highest heat warning level on Thursday.
On Friday, 16 cities will be under alerts for high temperature and the Italian authorities have instructed people to avoid being outside during the hottest hours of the day.
They have also been told to stay away from areas with a lot of vehicle traffic to prevent ozone exposure.
European heatwave 2019: UK braces for hottest day of the year as deadly heat sweeps continent – Evening Standard