A Hot, Dry Britain Is Set to Declare a Drought
LONDON — The British government was expected to declare a drought for parts of England on Friday as the country endured another day of hot, dry conditions with temperatures forecast to reach near 95 degrees Fahrenheit, or 35 degrees Celsius.
The expected drought announcement, widely reported by British news outlets, would allow water companies to impose stricter conservation measures and comes after the driest July in England since 1935. Several water companies have temporarily banned the use of hoses to water yards and gardens and to wash vehicles.
“Water companies are already managing the unprecedented effects of the driest winter and spring since the 1970s, and with more hot, dry weather forecast, it’s crucial we be even more mindful of our water use to minimize spikes in demand and ensure there’s enough to go around,” Peter Jenkins, director of communications for the industry body Water UK, said in a statement.
The Met Office, Britain’s national weather service, issued an extreme-heat warning through Sunday for much of the southern half of England and for parts of Wales, underscoring that the soaring temperatures could not only disrupt travel but also raise the risk of heat-related illnesses for certain groups.
Wiggonholt, in southern England, recorded the country’s highest temperature on Thursday, at 93.5 Fahrenheit (34.2 Celsius). Friday was expected to have a dry start with the mercury quickly rising. Temperatures could climb even higher over the weekend, meteorologists said, but they also predicted that they would not be as extreme as those in July, when they reached above 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in Britain for the first time.
London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, on Thursday urged residents to avoid grilling on balconies, at parks and in backyards over fears that fires might be sparked. The London Fire Brigade said that there had been hundreds of fires in the capital during the first week of August, compared with 42 during the same period in 2021.
Several retail chains have stopped selling disposable grills during the dry spell, The Guardian reported.
The heat wave across Britain in July was worsened by climate change, according to a scientific report. While tying a single heat wave to climate change requires analysis, scientists have no doubt that heat waves around the world are becoming hotter, more frequent and longer lasting. As the burning of fossil fuels causes average global temperatures to increase, the range of possible temperatures moves upward, too, making sizzling highs more likely. This means that every heat wave is now made worse, to some extent, by changes in planetary chemistry caused by greenhouse-gas emissions.
Dan Roberts, a psychotherapist in London, said on Thursday that because of the extreme heat he was giving patients the option to have appointments by Zoom. “My office is like an oven,” he said, adding that traveling in the heat might also be too much for some. “We really struggle when the temperature gets this high,” he said.
Rising temperatures, Mr. Roberts said, can have a negative effect on a person’s emotional well-being. “What we find is that when temperatures go up, you get a big spike in things like road rage, violent crime, domestic violence, that kind of thing,” he said. “The hotter we get, the more volatile our emotions become, particularly anger. We can be quick to anger, we can lose our temper, very irritable, frustrated.”
In Leeds, in northern England, Ashley Moore, an economist who works from home, said that he had not only moved his desk around his office to avoid the sun but was also working with fewer clothes on and avoiding going on camera.
Mr. Moore said that he planned to stay cool over the weekend by retreating to local beer gardens and staying near a canal. At home, he has purchased additional fans. He admitted he was still adapting to the heat.
“It’s nice to go on holiday to the heat,” he noted, but, he said, “I’m not expecting this here, at this time of year, at this intensity and this regularly. I’m not enjoying that.”