As Britain faces potentially recordbreaking temperatures, here are some of the most Googled questions about the UK heatwave answered.
How long will the heatwave last?
The prolonged wave of hot weather is due to subside on Friday for most, although that will not necessarily mean the end of the hot weather for the coming weeks. The Met Office says that as we move into August, we are likely to see more “very warm” weather in parts.
When did the heatwave start?
It’s difficult to state this accurately as the definition of a heatwave varies from area to area depending on its normal average temperatures. To give a picture of the unusually dry summer so far, East Anglia and the South East have seen no widespread rain since May 29. There were also 16 consecutive days from June 24 where somewhere in the UK reached 28C (82.4F)
When will it rain?
There will be patchy rain and storms in various parts of the country on Thursday, but thunderstorms will begin to hit more of the UK on Friday and into Saturday as the heatwave breaks.
Rain and strong winds are then expected to arrive from the South West through Sunday, according to the Met Office.
What is causing the heatwave?
The warmer temperatures have been attributed to “atmospheric blocking” - a phenomenon associated with slow-moving, high-pressure weather systems that effectively block westerly winds and cloud, in turn causing the normal eastward progress of weather systems to stall. This can lead to sustained periods of extreme heat in the summer or bitter cold in the winter.
More broadly, scientists warn that the effects of climate change will make heat extremes such as these more likely.
How long did the heatwave last in 1976?
In 1976, there were 15 consecutive days when temperatures reached 32C (89.6F) or higher.
What is a heatwave?
A heatwave is defined by the World Meterological Organisation as a period of “marked unusual hot weather” in a region lasting at least two days.
Is this heatwave hotter than 1976?
The highest temperature recorded in 1976 was 35.9C in Cheltenham on July 3. The hottest temperature seen during this heatwave at the time of writing was 33.3C on July 23 in Santon Downham, Suffolk.
However, it is forecast to reach 37C on Friday, and could pass the all-time record of 38.5C, set in 2003.
What made 1976 remarkable was the dry weather - below average rainfall between May 1975 and August 1976 contributed to one of the most significant droughts on record and meant it was one of the driest summers seen in the UK.