UK weather: extreme heat warning in place for England and Wales as 500% increase in wildfires reported – live
0 14 mins 6 mths

Near 500% increase in fires compared to 2021, says fire service

Dorset and Wiltshire fire service says there has been a near 500% increase in wildfires during the first 10 days of August this year compared with 2021.

Jason Moncrieff, area manager for the service, told the BBC’s Today programme:

It is a massive difference. The first 10 days of August this year versus last year there were 492% more of these types of fires. So that’s field fires, grass fires, heathland fires – all those sorts of fires in the open, a 492% increase this year.

He also said a fire on Friday on the Studland peninsula near Purbeck could have been avoided. He said:

Amazingly, yesterday’s fire looks as though it was started by a disposable barbecue. There can’t be many people in Britain who don’t know the advice at the moment is not to bring a barbecue, do not use a barbecue, especially disposable barbecues at these places such as Studland Heath. That’s our message, bring a picnic – don’t bring a barbecue.

It’s under control, it’s a lot better condition than it was yesterday [but] we’re probably going to be carrying on operations throughout the remainder of the day. How much longer I can’t really tell.

We’ve managed to put in what we call an overland main to provide water to the scene of the operation. We’re in a lot better situation than we were at the end of yesterday.

Key events

Please turn on JavaScript to use this feature

Five tips to help pets and wildlife beat the UK’s extreme heat.

Top up the pond and treat your pet to an ice lolly during the extreme heat in England and Wales.

Following the extreme heatwave, the Baylis Park Pond in Slough has dried out leaving ducks and wildlife displaced.

Following the extreme heatwave, the Baylis Park Pond in Slough has dried out leaving ducks and wildlife displaced. Photograph: Maureen McLean/Rex/Shutterstock

Labour calls for Cobra meeting to protect water supplies

Labour has called on the government to summon a meeting of the Cobra civil contingencies committee to ensure water supplies are protected amid the ongoing drought.

The party’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, said:

This is the second major heatwave in weeks but this Tory government is failing our country yet again. Conservative inaction on drought warnings is creating a dustbowl Britain.

Instead of stepping in, ministers have fallen asleep in the midday sun. They lecture the public on the use of hosepipes, but where is their plan to protect our vital water system.

It has been nearly a year since they launched their National Resilience Strategy consultation and yet they don’t have a single plan. They are all spin and no substance.

More extreme heat and drought conditions are expected in the southern half of the UK this weekend, while the northern half is set to be struck by thunderstorms and floods.

The Met Office has issued an amber heat warning covering most of England and Wales, where temperatures of up to 34C are predicted for Saturday and Sunday, the Press Association reported.

This means heat-related illnesses including sunburn and heat exhaustion are “likely” among the general population, and delays to public transport are “possible”.

Meanwhile, a lower-level yellow warning for thunderstorms is in place from noon on Sunday until 6am on Monday for most of Scotland and Northern Ireland. This warning means there is a “small chance” of flooding in these nations and the potential for power cuts.

The highest predicted daytime temperature of 34C is forecast in the south-east on Saturday, with 32C predicted in London and 27C in Edinburgh. Temperatures around the 30C mark are expected further north in England, while much of Scotland and Northern Ireland can expect temperatures in the mid-twenties.

This comes after an official drought was declared in eight areas of England on Friday by the National Drought Group, which comprises representatives from the government, water companies, the Environment Agency and others.

A woman walking her dog through the sunburnt grass on Wimbledon Common in the bright morning sunshine.
A woman walking her dog through the sunburnt grass on Wimbledon Common in the bright morning sunshine. Photograph: Amer Ghazzal/Rex/Shutterstock

The Beacons reservoir near Merthyr Tydfil, Wales

Areas of the UK were declared to be in drought today as the country’s Met Office continues its amber extreme heat warning for parts of England and Wales.
Areas of the UK were declared to be in drought today as the country’s Met Office continues its amber extreme heat warning for parts of England and Wales. Photograph: Carl Court/Getty Images

London Fire Brigade has called on people to avoid barbecues during the extreme weather, following a grass fire in Hayes, west London, yesterday.

It tweeted:

Firefighters tackled another grass fire in #Hayes which damaged around 400sqm of grass and shrubland, along with some boundary fencing, a chicken coop & a shed.

Remember – don’t barbecue in parks, dispose of cigarettes properly & clear away rubbish & glass.

Firefighters tackled another grass fire in #Hayes which damaged around 400sqm of grass and shrubland, along with some boundary fencing, a chicken coop & a shed. Remember – don’t barbecue in parks, dispose of cigarettes properly & clear away rubbish & glass https://t.co/nAb23i4Cxj pic.twitter.com/gW4Ti1bgCl

— London Fire Brigade (@LondonFire) August 12, 2022

What happens when drought is declared by the UK government?

Parts of England were declared to be in drought on Friday. My colleague Tom Levitt has taken a look at what this means, and how long it may last.

The Environment Agency (EA) declared the whole of the UK is in a pre-drought stage earlier in the week. Now that regional droughts are declared we can expect more restrictions on water use by households, and if conditions worsen, on businesses too.

The decision comes after areas of southern and eastern England recorded less than 10% of average July rainfall, while for England as a whole it was the driest since 1935. The situation has continued into August, with south-east England receiving no rainfall so far this month.

Fire services in the south of England have been left “massively stretched” by this summer’s heatwave.

Jason Moncrieff, area manager at Dorset and Wiltshire fire service, told the Today programme:

We are massively stretched but we are largely an on-call service. Forty-five of our 50 stations have an on-call element – firefighters that provide cover as well as a normal day job and they have a massive commitment to the service. We’re also trying to use our partners as much as possible.

So, in particular, Hampshire, Devon and Somerset – we are working in partnership, we can mobilise each others’ resources so we can send the nearest resource, no matter which county it’s in.

Near 500% increase in fires compared to 2021, says fire service

Dorset and Wiltshire fire service says there has been a near 500% increase in wildfires during the first 10 days of August this year compared with 2021.

Jason Moncrieff, area manager for the service, told the BBC’s Today programme:

It is a massive difference. The first 10 days of August this year versus last year there were 492% more of these types of fires. So that’s field fires, grass fires, heathland fires – all those sorts of fires in the open, a 492% increase this year.

He also said a fire on Friday on the Studland peninsula near Purbeck could have been avoided. He said:

Amazingly, yesterday’s fire looks as though it was started by a disposable barbecue. There can’t be many people in Britain who don’t know the advice at the moment is not to bring a barbecue, do not use a barbecue, especially disposable barbecues at these places such as Studland Heath. That’s our message, bring a picnic – don’t bring a barbecue.

It’s under control, it’s a lot better condition than it was yesterday [but] we’re probably going to be carrying on operations throughout the remainder of the day. How much longer I can’t really tell.

We’ve managed to put in what we call an overland main to provide water to the scene of the operation. We’re in a lot better situation than we were at the end of yesterday.

Rachel Hall

Rachel Hall

Making small changes, such as spotting leaks early and showering less, can make a big difference to save water during a drought.

After weeks without rain, the grass is parched, the ground is cracked and a drought has officially been declared across eight areas of England.

Water companies are expected to impose restrictions but what more can individuals do to curb water use?

Mass crop failures expected in England

Helena Horton

Experts have warned of widespread crop failures across England, as charities and farmers criticised water companies for dithering over hosepipe bans despite drought being declared across much of the country.

On Friday, the Environment Agency classified eight of the 14 areas of England as being in a drought. Despite this, water companies, including Anglian Water, Southern Water and South West Water have not brought in hosepipe bans.

Leaked documents seen by the Guardian from a meeting of the National Drought Group show concerning figures about the state of farming in England.

Half of the potato crop is expected to fail as it cannot be irrigated, and even crops that are usually drought-tolerant, such as maize, have been failing.

The group was told “irrigation options are diminishing with reservoirs being emptied fast”, and losses of 10-50% are expected for crops including carrots, onions, sugar beet, apples and hops. Milk production is also down nationally because of a lack of food for cows, and wildfires are putting large areas of farmland at risk.

Farmers are deciding whether to drill crops for next year, and there are concerns that many will decide not to, with dire consequences for the 2023 harvest. Cattle and other livestock are expected to be slaughtered early at lower weights because it is likely farmers will run out of feed for them in winter.

One of the driest areas is East Anglia, which is also home to much of England’s farming, including more than two-thirds of its sugar beet crop and a third of its potato crop.

England drought: how the country has been affected – video

Which areas are officially experiencing a drought?

The Environment Agency has moved into drought in eight of its 14 areas:

Documents seen by the Guardian show the Environment Agency expects that a further two areas will move into drought later in August. These are Yorkshire and West Midlands.

The group met earlier this summer to discuss the lack of rainfall and decided to put the country in “prolonged dry weather status”, the first of four emergency dry weather stages, and one step before drought. Now, the country has been tipped into that second stage.

This means water rationing may take place across the country, with fewer barriers for water companies who wish to ban customers from using hosepipes and washing the car with tap water. More severe measures can also be put in place at this stage, including banning the use of sprinklers the cleaning of buildings, vehicles and windows.

Extreme heat warning in place for England and Wales

Good morning. Drought was officially declared across large parts of England yesterday and the Met Office’s ‘extreme heat’ warning remains in place for much of England and Wales.

With temperatures expected at around 34C in some parts of the country, the Met Office is warning of an increased risks of fires as well as adverse impacts on health for both vulnerable people and the wider population.

It adds that “some delays to road, rail and air travel are possible, with potential for welfare issues for those who experience prolonged delays”.

While the amber heat warning remains in place until the end of Sunday, other parts of the UK could experience intense thunderstorms and possible flooding when it ends.

The Met office said the yellow storm warnings will begin in Scotland and Northern Ireland on Sunday afternoon and spread to England and Wales on Monday.

Forecasters said the storms were likely to be isolated and intense bringing 50mm of rain in some places and the possibility of hail and frequent lightning.

We’ll bring you the latest updates on this story throughout the day.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *