Old, young and people with chronic conditions at risk – and despite rainy June the drought is not over….
A heatwave could hits parts of Britain by the end of the weekend and early next week, with temperatures topping 30C (86F) in some places, the Met Office has warned.
It has issued a heat-health alert for the east Midlands, east of England and the south-east, warning of the dangers of high temperatures, particularly for the very old, the very young and those with chronic conditions.
The predicted hot weather will come after days of unsettled conditions, with more expected later on Friday as a band of rain spreads across the country from the west, delivering more wet conditions for the Glastonbury festival and Wimbledon.
So far this month, some areas have had well above average rainfall for June, with the south-west receiving 130% of the normal level and the south-east having 118% so far.
Even central and eastern England, the areas worst hit by months of dry weather, have had 75% and 83% respectively of the month’s average rainfall so far in June.
After months of little rain, the unsettled weather does not mean the drought in parts of eastern England, or the risk of it elsewhere, is over, the Environment Agency said. Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, parts of Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire and western Norfolk remain in a state of drought.
While many rivers have responded to the rainfall, there are still a number below normal levels for this time of year, including the Dove and the Derwent in central England, Ely Ouse in East Anglia, Malmesbury Avon in the south-west and the Kennet and Coln in the Thames Valley.
There has been some relief for farmers in Kent, with the agency putting on hold notices issued to land managers in the Walland and Romney marshes to stop abstracting water from 20 June.
Trevor Bishop, the head of water resources at the agency, said: “The wetter weather has helped to lessen impacts on the environment this week. However, after months of little rain, the recent unsettled weather does not mean the drought or risk of drought is over. Without further sustained rainfall, river flows will quickly drop again and our teams remain on alert to respond to the environmental impacts of drought.”
He urged people to continue to use water wisely.
The Met Office said the temperatures forecast for the coming days will peak across East Anglia, the east Midlands and south-east England on Monday, with highs of 32C (90F) possible.
The head of health forecasting at the Met Office, Patrick Sachon, said: “There is the possibility of daytime and night-time temperatures reaching trigger thresholds. These temperatures, together with high humidity, pose a risk to vulnerable people, such as those with underlying health problems.”
But the next few days will see varied weather across the UK as a whole, with some places experiencing unsettled conditions and temperatures in the low 20s.
The chief forecaster at the Met Office, Andy Page, said: “There is a 60% chance of some places in East Anglia, the east Midlands and south-east England reaching 30C on Sunday and Monday. However, it is important to note that not all places will see the hot weather. Cooler weather is expected to spread across all parts of the UK by the middle of next week.”