Britain experienced the hottest day of the year – so far – on Wednesday, and temperatures are expected to break records again on Thursday.
The Met Office said the highest temperature recorded on Wednesday was 34.3C at Writtle near Chelmsford in Essex, followed by 33.9C in Cavendish, Suffolk. The previous highest temperature of 2019 was 34C at Heathrow at the end of June.
Southern and eastern England are said to have a 70% chance of an unprecedented 39C on Thursday, beating the UK’s July record of 36.7C and the all-time high of 38.5C, recorded in 2003.
Temperatures have now surpassed 25C for a third consecutive day in the majority of the UK, meaning the hot spell is likely to be officially classified as a heatwave. However, Northern Ireland and western Scotland have been cooler, with highs in the low 20s on Wednesday.
Police searching for swimmers who went missing in separate incidents said they had found three bodies.
Scotland Yard said the body of a man was pulled from the river Thames at around 4.30pm on Wednesday. A search had been launched after a 47-year-old reportedly entered the water in Kingston, south-west London, and began swimming on Tuesday evening.
It comes after a body, believed to be a 23-year-old man who vanished while swimming in the Thames at Shadwell basin on Tuesday, was recovered on Wednesday morning. And Gloucestershire constabulary recovered a body on Tuesday evening as they searched for a man in his 20s from Wiltshire who had gone missing in a lake at Cotswold water park.
A search was continuing on Wednesday night for another man believed to be missing in the Thames, near Waterloo.
The emergency services advised the public to take precautions in the heat and highlighted the risks of cooling off in the sea, lakes and rivers.
Insp Stuart Simpson, from the Metropolitan police’s marine unit, said: “Whilst at times the Thames may look appealing, especially in this hot weather, it remains very dangerous all year round.
“On initial entry, the water can seem warm on the surface, but further in it can be freezing cold and there are often very strong undercurrents. The initial shock of the cold water is often what leads to people going subsurface and subsequently drowning.”
The Met Office issued a yellow warning for scattered thunderstorms covering the east of the UK, from Scotland down to London, from 3pm on Thursday to early Friday morning. It said flooding and lightning strikes could affect driving conditions, disrupt train services and lead to power cuts.
Large swathes of the UK experienced storms and lightning strikes in the early hours of Wednesday. Warwickshire fire and rescue service sent two engines to a house in Bedworth, near Nuneaton, shortly before 2am after lightning struck an aerial.
Lightning set a roof annexe ablaze and caused a building to be evacuated at around 1.25am in Bowling Bank near Wrexham, North Wales fire and rescue service said. The Red Cross crisis response centre tweeted that lightning during the night caused at least three fires.
Volunteers from St John Ambulance service will attend hundreds of events across the country this week as the school holidays begin for most.
Dr Lynn Thomas, medical director at St John Ambulance, said: “Extreme heat can be very dangerous, particularly for the very young and old, and we would encourage everyone to check on their elderly relatives and neighbours and look after themselves this week by keeping out of the sun or covering up, wearing sunscreen and drinking plenty of water.
“Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are two of the most serious problems that can develop when the mercury soars, but by being prepared you can spot the early warning signs such as headache and dizziness.
“Knowing what action to take could mean you might be the difference between life and death in an emergency in your community.”
The NHS tweeted advice for dealing with the unusually hot temperatures. It said: “Try to avoid spending extended periods in the sun this week. Also, be aware that vulnerable people are at increased risk of health issues.”
Councils called on the public to check on family and friends, warning that elderly people and those with heart and respiratory problems were most at risk.
UK records hottest day of year and could yet hit new high of 39C – The Guardian