Red warning for ‘extreme heat’ as Enfield swelters

Trains cancelled as people are advised to stay indoors if they can, reports James Cracknell

The current Met Office 'red alert' for extreme heat covers all of London
The current Met Office ‘red alert’ for extreme heat covers all of London

A red alert for “exceptional hot weather” is now in effect in Enfield and will last until the end of Tuesday, with temperatures in the east of England looking likely to break the all-time UK record.

The Met Office has warned of “widespread impacts on people and infrastructure” within the red warning area, which covers London, Hertfordshire, plus most of the Midlands and even extending to Manchester and Yorkshire.

It is the first time ever that the Met Office has issued such a strong warning for extreme heat.

The UK temperature record was set in Cambridge just three years ago, on 25th July 2019, when the mercury reached 38.7°C. It is very likely to be surpassed tomorrow, if not today.

Temperatures on Monday morning in Enfield soared well above 30°C, several hours before the late afternoon peak. The maximum for the borough today is predicted to be 37°C, with 39°C being forecast tomorrow. Further north, in parts of the Midlands and into Lincolnshire, temperatures above 40°C are forecast for Tuesday.

Great Northern, the railway company which runs the Hertford Loop line through western Enfield, has responded to the Met Office warning by cancelling all of its trains between Moorgate and Stevenage for Tuesday. Reduced services are running today.

Greater Anglia, which runs services in eastern Enfield, is operating with a 50% reduced timetable for its Hertford East and Liverpool Street trains both today and tomorrow.

London Overground is currently running a normal service, with minor delays caused by the heat, and has not yet made any cancellations. There are also minor delays on the Piccadilly Line for the same reason.

Jake Kelly, Network Rail’s System Operator group director, said: “Rail passengers in England and Wales should only travel if necessary on Monday and Tuesday as there will be delays and cancellations to train services due to the unprecedented heat we’re expecting.

“The wellbeing of our passengers is our first priority so we’re asking all passengers who decide to travel to take time to prepare before leaving the house. Remember to bring a water bottle with you, along with whatever else you need to keep yourself well in the heat. Water bottles can be refilled for free at most Network Rail’s managed stations.

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“Journeys will take significantly longer and delays are likely as speed restrictions are introduced to keep passengers and railway staff safe, so make sure to allow considerably more time to complete your journey and be prepared for very hot conditions.

“We’re working closely with MetDesk to monitor forecasts and adapt our plans, and with our train operator colleagues to make sure we can get passengers who need to travel to their destinations safely.”

The advice from the Met Office is that “substantial changes in working practices and daily routines will be required”. They say there is a high risk of failure of heat-sensitive systems and equipment, potentially leading to localised loss of power and other essential services, such as water or mobile phone services.

Paul Gundersen, the Met Office’s chief meteorologist, said: “Exceptional, perhaps record-breaking temperatures are likely, quite widely across the red warning area on Monday, and focused a little more east and north on Tuesday. Currently there is a 50% chance we could see temperatures top 40°C and 80% we will see a new maximum temperature reached.

“Nights are also likely to be exceptionally warm, especially in urban areas. This is likely to lead to widespread impacts on people and infrastructure. Therefore, it is important people plan for the heat and consider changing their routines. This level of heat can have adverse health effects.”

The current European heatwave is being blamed on anthropogenic climate change, caused by burning fossil fuels, which scientists say has made extreme heat far more likely than it was previously.

For the latest warnings from the Met Office:

For the latest updates from Great Northern (via parent company Govia Thameslink):

For the latest updates from Greater Anglia:

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