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Heat-Related Deaths Set To Treble By 2050

The weather map at Monday July 23.
23 July 2018 | Updated 30 July 2018

Heat-related deaths are set to treble by 2050 unless the Government acts. The Environmental Audit Committee has predicted that higher temperatures (which caused 2000+ deaths in 2003) will be summer norm by the 2040s -  making adaptation to heatwaves a matter of life and death.

The Committee has found that failing to address the danger of heatwaves will threaten the wellbeing of an increasing number of people.

Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee said: “Heatwave warnings are welcomed as barbecue alerts but they threaten health, wellbeing and productivity. The Met Office has projected that UK summer temperatures could regularly reach 38.5°C by the 2040s. Heatwaves cause premature deaths from cardiac, kidney and respiratory disease. There will be 7,000 heat-related deaths every year in the UK by 2050 if the Government does not take action.

“The Government needs to do more to warn the public of the health risks of heatwaves, particularly when they fall outside of the summer period, and should appoint a minister to lead work across Government. The Government’s new adaptation plan promises no effective action to prevent overheating in buildings. It must change building regulations and planning policies to ensure buildings, homes and transport networks are able to deal with extreme heat, and that local authorities and cities have green spaces and heat-resilient infrastructure.”

The Committee has called on the Government to ensure resilience to heatwaves in hospitals and care homes, change building regulations to prevent overheating, review the capacity of local authorities to deliver climate change resilience, introduce stricter water efficiency standards as part of the building regulations, coordinate a study of vulnerability to heat-health risks on transport and make businesses aware of the threat of heatwaves and the economic consequences. Public Health England should also issue formal guidance to employers to relax dress codes and allow flexible working during heatwaves, and the Government should consult on introducing maximum workplace temperatures, especially for work that involves significant physical effort.



In August 2003 temperatures reached 38.5°C in England and there were 2,193 heat-related deaths across the UK in 10 days. The Met Office predicts that similar heatwaves will occur every other year by the 2040s.  Prolonged periods of high temperatures cause cardiac and respiratory disease leading to excess deaths, particularly in older people. The average number of heat-related deaths in the UK is expected to more than treble to 7,000 per year by the 2050s.


Heat peak

The heatwave of 2018 will reach a peak for the time being on Friday July 27 with temperatures likely to break the UK July record and possibly the all-time UK record somewhere in south-east England. A highs of 37 °C is expected on Friday.

Steve Ramsdale, Chief Meteorologist at the Met Office, said on Thursday July 26 evening: “The heatwave conditions are expected to peak across many places from the English Midlands eastwards on Thursday and Friday, with temperatures into the mid to high 30s Celsius. It’s likely that we will see a new temperature record set for July and possible that we could break the all-time UK record of 38.5° C if conditions all come together.

“If you’re looking for somewhere to escape the heat, western and northern areas will have pleasantly warm mid 20s Celsius, although across Northern Ireland and western Scotland this may be accompanied by occasionally cloudy skies.”

26 July saw the highest temperature recorded so far this year with 35.1 °C at Wisley, Surrey.


Friday 27

Friday is when the chance of intense thunderstorms is greatest across eastern parts of England before the fresher, conditions finally make their way east across the UK for the weekend.

Ramsdale added: “There is the chance of thunderstorms breaking out. These will be heaviest over eastern and northern England where there is a Met Office Weather Warning in force.  Whilst many places will remain dry and hot, the thunderstorms on Friday could lead to torrential downpours in places with a much as 30mm of rainfall in an hour and 60mm in 3 hours. Large hail and strong, gusty winds are also likely and combined could lead to difficult driving conditions as a result of spray and sudden flooding.”

Looking ahead to the weekend, temperatures will have dropped somewhat but it will still be pleasantly warm in sunny spells. We can expect to see more rain at times pushing northeastwards across much of the UK and stronger winds than we have seen for some time. With this windier weather, conditions around coasts, particularly in the southwest, may be rougher than we have seen so far this summer.


July 24 Reporting

As the heatwave continues across much of England, with temperatures into the mid 30s Celsius, Public Health England is warning people should stay out of the sun - midday or otherwise.

Southern and eastern England could hit as high as 32-34 °C in a few places as the temperatures peak on Thursday or Friday. The Midlands are almost guaranteed to hit the 20s Celsius.

Much of the UK will be hot this week - but there will be lower temperatures in the North-West.

Matthew Lewis, Deputy Chief Meteorologist at the Met Office, said: “The heatwave conditions will continue across much of England through this week, with temperatures possibly into the mid 30s Celsius in places on Thursday and Friday.

“More changeable conditions are expected across Northern Ireland and western Scotland with showers or longer spells of rain at times with maximum temperatures nearer normal.”

The highest temperature recorded so far this year is 33.0 °C at Porthmadog on June 28. The highest temperature recorded in 2017 was 34.5° C at Heathrow on June 21. Prior to this, the most recent heatwave prior to this was in July 2015 when temperatures peaked at 36.7 °C at Heathrow on July 1 - a temperature that is currently the July all-time maximum record. The all-time record in the UK is 38.5° C at Faversham on 10 August 2003.


Details for the week ahead

Hot weather often brings the risk of showers and thunderstorms and there is a chance of heavy or thundery downpours across eastern parts of England on Friday before the fresher, more changeable conditions in the northwest finally make their way east across the UK later in the week.

Lewis added: “There is the chance of a few thunderstorms breaking out over East Anglia on Wednesday but it is likely to be Friday when we see thunderstorms affecting many central and eastern areas.”


Public Health

A Level 3 heat-health watch alert has been issued for a large part of England, in association with Public Health England. The Heat Health Watch Service is designed to help healthcare professionals manage through periods of extreme temperature but is also useful for employers in determining when to stop or limit outdoor working in particular.

Hot weather, especially when prolonged, with warm nights, can have effects on people's health and on certain infrastructure. To aid preparation and awareness before and during a prolonged hot spell, a heatwave plan has been created by Public Health England in association with the Met Office and other partners. It recommends a series of steps to reduce the risks to health from prolonged exposure to severe heat for.

Dr Thomas Waite, Consultant in Health Protection at Public Health England, said: “To beat the heat, try to keep out the sun from 11am to 3pm, stay in the shade if you can, apply sunscreen and wear a hat if you have to go out in the heat. Also try to carry water with you when travelling.”


Worst affected

The dry spell has been most prolonged in East Anglia and Southeast England. Most especially much of East Anglia and Cambridgeshire, extending through Essex into London and also around Bournemouth and Southampton.  Parts of the Midlands have also been very dry. The last day of very widespread rainfall for East Anglia and the south-east was 29 May.

The Met Office classifies less than 1.0mm of rain in a day as a ‘dry day’. Using this threshold, several sites have had 54 consecutive dry days (starting 30 May), including a few which have had less than 1mm in the entire 54 day period.

The longest run of days with no rain at all this summer so far is 48 days at Brooms Barn, near Bury St Edmunds, since 5 June.  Most observing sites in East Anglia have had no rain at all since 21 June.

Picture: The weather map at Monday July 23.


Article written by Brian Shillibeer | Published 23 July 2018


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