A heat warning in place across large parts of England for the weekend has been upgraded from yellow to amber amid concerns of high temperatures putting lives in danger.
The warning – part of a new Heat Health Alerts (HHA) system designed by the Met Office and UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) – comes as a yellow weather warning was also issued for thunderstorms by the Met Office.
The thunderstorm warning covering Wales and a large area of southern and central England, is in place from 2pm to 9pm on Saturday and highlights potential disruption to travel, the chance of power cuts and the possibility of localized flooding from the heaviest showers.
The Met Office said it was due to a plume of warm water, which will also see a raised temperature.
On Thursday the UKHSA’s heat health alert, which is being used for the first time, was upgraded from yellow to amber for the West Midlands, East Midlands, East of England, South East and South West. London remains yellow.
An amber warning means local authorities and the health service should set up a response for weather that is likely to have health impacts across the whole population.
Yellow means some response should be triggered and will be issued when periods of heat or cold could have some impact on a vulnerable person’s health, even if it is unlikely.
The UKHSA further issued a yellow alert for the North East, North West and Yorkshire and Humber regions.
All alerts are in place between 9am on Friday and 9am on Monday 12 June.
Temperatures are predicted to rise to between 25 and 30 degrees across much of the south of England on Friday.
Met Office Deputy Chief Meteorologist Dan Harris said: “Although a plume of warm air will bring temperatures up to around 30°C in some parts of England, it brings with it the risk of some impactful thunderstorms.
“The general focus area for Saturday has become better defined over the past 24 hours, which has resulted in sufficient confidence to issue a “Very Low Likelihood” Yellow Thunderstorm Warning.
“While not everyone in the warning area will see the heaviest showers, or even showers at all, some are likely to be torrential and thundery, with 30-40mm falling in an hour. Some spots affected by multiple showers could see in excess of 60mm within the warning period.”
What is the new system?
The purpose of the new Heat-Health Alerting (HHA) service is to ensure people are aware of the dangers to health caused by heat waves or freezing temperatures.
Each alert provides a headline weather prediction, outlines the impacts it could have, breaks the prediction down by region and provides links to other helpful guidance.
The new system will align with the current Met Office’s National Severe Weather Warning Service by colour-coding the potential risk.
The Met Office already produces warnings for all forms of dangerous weather that include all of the potential impacts, including on travel and services.
The new HHA is specifically targeted at warning the public about the health dangers of high or low temperatures, particularly the impact it can have on the elderly.
The new system is for both professionals and the public with one of its primary goals aimed at giving the NHS enough time to prepare for any predicted extreme weather.