LONDON – Britain was sweltering Thursday in its first prolonged heat wave in seven years as the deputy prime minister warned that the country is simply “not ready for this.”
Britain experienced its hottest day of the year so far on Wednesday, with thermometers hitting 32.2 degrees in southwest London.
The Met Office national weather service put the southwest of England and the West Midlands on level 3 — one grade below the “national emergency” top level — joining London and the wider southeast on heat wave alert. Forecasters have said Britain is in the midst of its first prolonged heat wave since 2006, with six consecutive days of temperatures above 30.
Amid stifling temperatures on public transport, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told London radio station LBC that Britain was simply “not ready for this.”
“The problem we face as a country is these things are unpredictable,” he said on the variable British weather,” Clegg said. “The whole way we work — our offices, buses, everything — isn’t actually designed for these sudden spikes in temperature.”
Research conducted for The Times newspaper by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine estimated the death toll for the first nine days of the current hot spell in England as between 540 and 760 people.