Britain could bake under potentially record-breaking heat

Britain could bake under record-breaking heat as temperatures could potentially climb to 39C.

The scorching conditions may spark thunderstorms which could trigger travel delays, flash flooding, and power cuts, the Met Office said.

The dangers of cooling off in lakes, rivers and the sea were highlighted by emergency services after the bodies of three people were pulled from the water after they reportedly got into difficulty swimming.

Searches continue for someone seen in the River Thames near Waterloo, Scotland Yard said.

A yellow weather warning is in force for most of England, except the south west, and parts of Scotland from 3pm on Thursday until 4am on Friday.

Overnight lightning storms have already caused fires and rail disruption this week during the heatwave.

According to the Met Office, there is a 70% chance the mercury could rise above the current all-time UK temperature record of 38.5C on Thursday.

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Heatwave hits the UK
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Heatwave hits the UK
Young woman cool off in the sea at Bournemouth beach as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius being recorded at Heathrow. The all-time UK record of 38.5C (101.3F) recorded in Faversham, Kent, in August 2003, could be broken on Thursday, the Met Office said.
Amur tiger Minerva cools off in her pool at Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire, as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius at Heathrow being recorded.
View of The Shard and Canary Wharfs skyline as the sky is cloudy, London on July 26, 2019. Yesterday was the second hottest day ever recorded in the history of Great Britain with 37.9C at Heathrow Airport. (Photo by Alberto Pezzali/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
People play in the water at Hathersage Outdoor Swimming Pool in Derbyshire, as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
People boating on the Serpentine in Hyde Park, London, after temperatures climbed above 30C in some parts of the UK after a tropical night, as the country braces for record-breaking heat.
Paddle boarders at Salthouse dock in Liverpool, as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius at Heathrow being recorded. The UK's all-time record of 38.5 degrees may be broken later this afternoon.
People enjoy the hot weather in Hyde Park, London, as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
People resting in Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport as the UK's biggest airport has apologised after extreme weather conditions across Europe caused flight cancellations and delays.
Handout photo taken with permission from the Twitter feed of @lucymackie_ of hundreds of passengers waiting by check-in zones at Heathrow Airport, as air passengers are facing disruption due to the heatwave and a technical problem with the UK's air traffic control system.
People punt along the River Cam in Cambridge, as the UK could encounter the hottest July day on record later this afternoon.
People enjoying the sun shine on Bournemouth beach as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius being recorded at Heathrow. The all-time UK record of 38.5C (101.3F) recorded in Faversham, Kent, in August 2003, could be broken on Thursday, the Met Office said.
Workmen enjoy ice creams in Manchester as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius being recorded at Heathrow. The all-time UK record of 38.5C (101.3F) recorded in Faversham, Kent, in August 2003, could be broken on Thursday, the Met Office said.
Anita Ricchiuti, 22, on Scarborough beach as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
A Southeastern train passes through heat haze in Ashford, Kent as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius being recorded at Heathrow. The all-time UK record of 38.5C (101.3F) recorded in Faversham, Kent, in August 2003, could be broken on Thursday, the Met Office said.
A barbary macaque enjoys a frozen fruit and nut treat at Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire at Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire, as the UK has surpassed the hottest July day on record, with 36.9 degrees celsius at Heathrow being recorded.
EDITORIAL USE ONLY On the hottest day in July since records began in the UK, members of the public visit the 7UP Free Fido Dido House, which is reintroducing the well-known 90Õs advertising character in time with the drink brands 90th Anniversary celebration, at a pop-up chill out space in London's Covent Garden.
Victora Parkes, 18 (left) and Rachel Crossland, 18, on Scarborough beach as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
Charlotte Burniston (right) and Justin McNicholas (left) on Scarborough beach as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
Sun worshippers enjoy the sunshine on a hot sweltering day in London. (Photo by Amer Ghazzal / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Reuben Humphreys, 4 , cools off in the fountain at Alnwick Gardens in Alnwick, Northumberland. The UK is bracing itself for what could be its hottest ever day on Thursday, after lightning storms triggered fires and rail disruption.
Kadie Lane, 10, cools off in the fountain at Alnwick Gardens in Alnwick, Northumberland. The UK is bracing itself for what could be its hottest ever day on Thursday, after lightning storms triggered fires and rail disruption.
An African white lion sunbathes at West Midlands Safari Park. The UK is bracing itself for what could be its hottest ever day on Thursday, after lightning storms triggered fires and rail disruption.
Penguins at West Midlands Safari Park cool off with mackerel flavoured ice. The UK is bracing itself for what could be its hottest ever day on Thursday, after lightning storms triggered fires and rail disruption.
Visitors enjoy the fountain at Alnwick Gardens in Alnwick, Northumberland. The UK is bracing itself for what could be its hottest ever day on Thursday, after lightning storms triggered fires and rail disruption.
Lightning strikes as a thunder storm passes over houses in Lee Park, Liverpool, Merseyside. The UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
Lightning strikes as a thunder storm passes over houses in Leeds, West Yorkshire. The UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
Lightning strikes as a thunder storm passes over houses in Lee Park, Liverpool, Merseyside. The UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
Visitors sit in deckchairs in the sun at Alnwick Gardens in Alnwick, Northumberland. The UK is bracing itself for what could be its hottest ever day on Thursday, after lightning storms triggered fires and rail disruption.
Children sit in the sun by 'The Friendly Giant', a pond sculpture situated in Alnwick Gardens in Anwick, Northumberland. The UK is bracing itself for what could be its hottest ever day on Thursday, after lightning storms triggered fires and rail disruption.
Sisters, Nyam May (left) and Ciara May (right), jump into the water at Ilkley outdoor pool and lido in West Yorkshire as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
Sisters, Nyam May (left) and Ciara May (right), jump into the water at Ilkley outdoor pool and lido in West Yorkshire as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
A general view of Broadstairs beach in Kent, as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
People enjoy the sun at Ilkley outdoor pool and lido in West Yorkshire as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
A lady, seen through heat haze, walks on the promenade in Folkestone, as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
Thomas Bristow swims under water at Ilkley outdoor pool and lido in West Yorkshire as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
Freddie Ward jumps into the water at Ilkley outdoor pool and lido in West Yorkshire as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
A woman uses a fan to cool down on a tube train in central London as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
People enjoy the sun at Ilkley outdoor pool and lido in West Yorkshire as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
Sheri Bedford enjoys the sun at Ilkley outdoor pool and lido in West Yorkshire as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
Ciara May dives into the water at Ilkley outdoor pool and lido in West Yorkshire as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
A view of the Loggia at Hever Castle in Kent through new flower meadows, as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
Two ladies, seen through heat haze, walk on the promenade in Folkestone, as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
Sunbathers relax in the sunshine on the beach in Folkestone, Kent, as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
A dog enjoys the sea during sunny conditions in Camber, East Sussex.
A man sunbaths on Bridlington beach as hot weather hits the UK. (Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images)
Lenticular clouds over English Heritage's Warkworth Castle in Northumberland as temperatures are expected to rise over the UK this week. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)
People enjoy punting in Westgate Gardens in Canterbury, Kent, as temperatures are expected to rise over this week. (Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images)
Parental permission given Isla Stanton enjoys the sunshine in Westgate Gardens in Canterbury, Kent, as temperatures are expected to rise over this week. (Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images)
Parental permission given Isla Stanton enjoys the sunshine in Westgate Gardens in Canterbury, Kent, as temperatures are expected to rise over this week. (Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images)
Tourists enjoy a trip in a boat along the river in Stratford Upon Avon, Warwickshire, as temperatures are expected to rise across the UK this week.
People enjoy the sun along the river in Stratford Upon Avon, Warwickshire, as temperatures are expected to rise across the UK this week.
A windsurfer crashes through the waves during windy conditions in Camber, East Sussex.
People taking boat trips along the algae-covered Regent's Canal in London.
A view of the new flower meadows currently blooming at Hever Castle in Kent, as the UK is expected to edge towards its hottest ever July day, with the mercury due to soar above 30C (86F).
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Conditions could reach 39C in southern and eastern England, it tweeted.

Network Rail warned speed restrictions may be introduced in areas where tracks are at risk of buckling.

Extreme weather action teams (EWATs) have been "activated" to keep passengers safe and trains running, it said.

WEATHER Hot
(PA Graphics)

The Rail Delivery Group, which represents the industry, advised passengers in London and the South East to consider changing their travel plans on Thursday owing to the heat.

London North Eastern Railway (LNER), which runs inter-city services on the East Coast Main Line, is advising customers against travelling on Thursday.

It said some services were likely to be cancelled or delayed as speed restrictions will be imposed between Peterborough and London King's Cross.

A sunny and warm commute for most this Thursday morning, but with hot conditions from the word go in the southeast. Take care and stay #weatherawarepic.twitter.com/3vWzSEU2ev

— Met Office (@metoffice) July 24, 2019

The Met Office has warned heatwaves are on the increase as a result of climate change.

It is even possible the mercury could climb to 40C, which would be "unprecedented" for the UK climate, weather forecasters said.

The scorching temperatures gripping the UK and much of Europe come against a backdrop of global warming of 1C since the Industrial Revolution driven by greenhouse gas emissions.

Both Belgium and the Netherlands broke their all-time maximum temperature records on Wednesday, reaching 39.9.C and 39.1C respectively, the Met Office said.

Higher temperatures are making extreme hot spells more likely and more intense, experts warn.

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