Temperatures in some areas could reach low or mid-30s Celsius (at least 86 Fahrenheit) by the end of next week, as an area of high pressure building from the Atlantic reaches the south and south west of England.
While many areas of the UK, and especially in the south, will experience temperatures several degrees higher than average, Met Office chief forecaster Steve Willington said the hot spell is likely to be “well below the record-breaking temperatures we saw in mid-July,” when thermometers climbed above 40C in some places.
To be classified a heatwave, temperatures must hit 28C in London and 25C for much of the rest of the country, for three consecutive days.
There is little relief on the horizon for parched areas in the south of England, which is preparing for drought after extremely dry conditions, with hardly any rain forecast. But some wet weather is expected in the north west of England.
Britain’s average temperatures are set to continue to rise in the future amid global heating, but how rainfall on the island nation will respond is harder to predict.
While drought is not likely to hit more often in the next few decades, it is expected to become more frequent in the second half of this century.
Water demand often climbs when temperatures rise, as consumers water gardens and fill paddling pools.
The Met Office said the weather conditions bringing next week’s hot spell are different to those which inflicted up to 40.3C record heat last month. July’s unprecedented heat fuelled intense wildfires, buckled train tracks, melted roads and saw children sent home from school.
Heat intensified in July as already hot air travelling from southern Europe added to “our own home-grown heat,” in the UK, said Rebekah Sherwin, deputy chief meteorologist at the Met Office.
“This time, that is much less likely; instead, temperatures will build steadily within the lingering area of high pressure,” she explained.
August temperatures also tend to be lower than those in July because the sun is lower and daylight hours slightly shorter.