Hot Helen? The weather bureau should name heatwaves the same as storms, scientists say.

The Met Office issued a yellow weather warning due to heatwaves on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, covering much of England and parts of Wales.

The extreme heat warning system ranges from yellow to red and indicates how likely and what effect the weather will have on public life. An amber warning indicates that temperature is likely to have a strong effect.

The warning for Sunday said: “Exceptionally high temperatures are possible on Sunday, which could lead to widespread impacts on people and infrastructure.”

Forecasters say the heatwave could affect the health of everyone, not just the vulnerable, as well as affecting electricity, gas and water supplies. Here is how it can affect different areas of daily life:


The Met Office says rail delays and cancellations are possible, which “could potentially lead to serious welfare issues for those experiencing even moderate delays.”

Network Rail has warned that services across the UK may be subject to speed limits to avoid track strain, with South Western Railway and Heathrow Express among operators warning of potential disruptions. West Midlands Trains yesterday imposed a 20 mph speed limit on the route between Stratford-upon-Avon, Leamington Spa and Kidderminster.


The Met Office says traffic delays and road closures are possible during hot weather.

The RAC urged motorists to “think carefully before driving and do everything you can to avoid a breakdown.” It states that motorists should check coolant and oil levels under the hood when the engine is cold.

It added: “If the temperature rises to 40 degrees Celsius, as some predict, then people should first question their decision to drive.”

Hampshire County Council is preparing to deploy gritters in response to melting roads, saying the machines will spread a light dust of sand that “acts like a sponge to soak up excess bitumen”.

Motorists who find tar adhering to their tires are advised to wash it off with warm soapy water.


The Met Office warned that air traffic could also be disrupted during the heat wave. This is because aircraft can become too heavy to take off in very hot weather due to reduced air density, resulting in a lack of lift.

This happened during a heat wave in the summer of 2018 at London City Airport when some passengers had to be dropped off to make services light enough to take off on a relatively short runway.


The weather bureau warned that “heat sensitive systems and equipment” could fail. This can result in power outages and other essential services such as water, electricity and gas.

Hot weather can lead to increased demand for electricity because people turn on fans and air conditioners, and heat can also cause overhead power cables and transformers to drop in efficiency.


The Met Office says the heatwave will “require changes in working methods and daily routines.”

There is no specific law for maximum operating temperature or when it is too hot to work.

But employers are expected to ensure that in offices or similar spaces, workplace temperatures are “reasonable”. Companies must comply with health and safety laws, which include maintaining temperatures at a comfortable level, known as “thermal comfort”; and providing clean and fresh air.

The Trades Union Congress says that during heatwaves, employees should be allowed to start work earlier or stay later, leave jackets and ties in the cloakroom and take regular breaks. It also calls for an absolute maximum indoor temperature of 30°C (86F) — or 27°C (81F) for strenuous work — to legally indicate when work must stop.


The Met Office said adverse health effects could be “experienced by everyone, not just those most vulnerable to extreme heat, which could lead to serious illness or life-threatening conditions” during the amber warning.

In addition, the charity Asthma and Lung UK has warned that up to three million asthma sufferers could be affected by high levels of pollen so they should use their inhalers.


Heat plans put in place by the NHS and UKHSA say children should not engage in “active physical activity” when temperatures rise above 30°C (86F).

Some sports days have been canceled this week, while official recommendations suggest rescheduling start, end and school break times to avoid the hottest moments of the day.

A government communication on how schools should respond to the heat could be sent out later this week, but that could be left up to school principals.