• The U.K.’s weather office announced a temperature of 40.2 Celsius was provisionally recorded, crushing a previous record of 38.7 C in 2019.
  • The office also issued the U.K.’s first-ever Red warning for exceptional heat this week.
  • Meanwhile, the heat wave across much of Europe has caused raging wildfires and at least 748 heat-related deaths in Spain and Portugal.

The United Kingdom crushed its record for highest temperature ever recorded Tuesday as a scorching heat wave broiled much of mainland Europe, leading to hundreds of heat-related deaths and fierce wildfires.

The Meteorological Office, U.K.’s weather office, announced a temperature of 40.2 Celsius (104.4 Fahrenheit) was provisionally recorded Tuesday in London. A temperature of 39.1 C (102.4 F) was provisionally recorded earlier in the day in the English village of Charlwood in Surrey.

The previous record high temperature recorded in the U.K. was 38.7 C (101.7 F) in 2019, according to the Met Office.

Tuesday’s highs will be “unprecedented,” said Met Office forecaster Rachel Ayers, adding temperatures would rise to as high as 104 or 105.8 F in parts of England in the afternoon.

PREVIOUS REPORTS:Hundreds dead as extreme heat wave broils Europe; UK could break record

UK issues first Red warning

The Met Office issued the U.K.’s first-ever Red warning for exceptional heat this week. At this warning level, illness may occur even among the “fit and healthy,” not just high-risk groups.

The warning covers Monday and Tuesday for parts of central, northern, eastern and southeastern England, the office said.

A lesser Amber Extreme heat warning is also in place for much of England, Wales and southern Scotland through Tuesday. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland may also see broken temperature records, the Met Office said.

Temperatures are expected to decrease to levels more typical for this time of year by the middle of next week, according to the Met Office.

HEAT GUIDE:Heat index to a heat dome to an excessive heat warning

Britain’s Supreme Court closes

As the U.K. sweltered during the heat wave, Britain’s Supreme Court shuttered and hearings moved online due to an air conditioning problem. The British Museum also planned to close early.

In a country known for rain and mild temperatures, many public buildings don’t have air conditioning. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Britain’s transportation infrastructure “just wasn’t built to withstand this type of temperature — and it will be many years before we can replace infrastructure with the kind of infrastructure that could.”

Heat wave leads to deaths elsewhere in Europe

Meanwhile, the hot, dry weather has also been scorching large swaths of Europe since last week. Wildfires have been reported from Portugal to the Balkans. At least 748 heat-related deaths have been reported in Spain and neighboring Portugal, where temperatures reached 117 degrees Fahrenheit earlier this month.

HOW TO STAY COOL:As heat wave impacts millions, here’s how to stay safe

A man refreshes his face at a fountain in Trafalgar Square in central London, Tuesday, July 19, 2022. Britain shattered its record for highest temperature ever registered Tuesday, with a provisional reading of 39.1 degrees Celsius (102.4 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the country's weather office.

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Is climate change to blame?

UK scientists say extreme weather events, including heat waves, are increasing in frequency, duration and intensity as a result of climate change.

Nikos Christidis, climate attribution scientist at the Met Office, said recent studies showed the likelihood of extremely hot days in the U.K. has been increasing and will continue to increase with the most extreme temperatures hitting southeast England. The chances of seeing 104-degree days in the U.K. could be as much as 10 times more likely in the current climate compared to a natural climate unaffected by human influence, he said in a Met Office statement.

Contributing: Doyle Rice, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

Contact News Now Reporter Christine Fernando at cfernando@usatoday.com or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.

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