UK weather: Chaos on UK roads as people head out for year's hottest day

The UK provisionally recorded its hottest day of the year on Saturday. Credit: PA

Busy roads have resulted in collisions and some deaths as people headed out to enjoy the hottest day of the year on Saturday.

Pile-ups on motorways from the south East of England up to Scotland caused long delays as emergency services attended the scenes.

On the M11, a man died after a vehicle transporter overturned between Bishop’s Stortford and Newmarket, near to Stansted airport.

Essex Police said paramedics had tended to the man, but he died at the scene.

Two people were injured and a man was arrested following a three-vehicle crash near Fife in Scotland, though the road has now been reopened.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Officers were called to reports of a 3 vehicle crash on the M90 around 10.45am on Saturday July 17.

“A 59-year-old woman and a 23-year-old man were taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy for treatment.

“A 40-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident.”

Another serious crash caused road closures on the A82 and delays to the Corran Ferry, with Traffic Scotland advising people to avoid the area where possible.

The incidents come after the RAC warned drivers to take care on busy roads and check their vehicles ahead of the predicted sunny weekend weather.

All four UK nations recorded their warmest days of the year so far, while Northern Ireland reached the highest temperature it's ever recorded.Ballywatticock, in County Down, Northern Ireland hit 31.2°C. Previously, 30.8°C was the highest temperature recorded in the country, and was reached on July 12 1983 and June 30 1976.On Saturday, England's highest temperature was 30.3°C recorded in Coton In The Elms, Derbyshire. Temperatures could rise further this afternoon.

Usk, in Wales, reached 29°C, and 28.2°C was recorded in Threave, in the Dumfries and Galloway region of Scotland.

The records come after weeks of wet and humid weather and have prompted health officials to issue warnings about the dangers of extreme heat.

People enjoy a drink in the hot weather as they take punt tours along the River Cam in Cambridge on Friday. Credit: PA

The mini-heatwave has been driven by a blast of warm air coming in from the Azores in the North Atlantic.

The sunshine is due to last until so-called “Freedom Day” on Monday, the day when the last of the Covid-19 restrictions are due to be lifted.

Mercury is set to climb between 31°C and 32°C on Sunday.

The hottest day of the year so far was 29.7°C, recorded at Teddington in south-west London on June 14.

But we are still a long way away from record temperatures for the time of year – 38.7°C was recorded at Cambridge Botanical Gardens on July 25 2019.

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Met Office meteorologist Simon Partridge said the weather may take people by surprise “because so far this summer has not been that great”.

“Temperatures have generally been below average for quite a while – it’s the difference in temperature in such a short space of time that is the most noticeable.”

He continued: “But it will affect most of the UK and that is a little bit more unusual – Scotland and Northern Ireland just got their warmest day of the year."

The Met Office said things will turn cooler and thundery from the middle of next week.

For London and the South East to record a full heatwave, temperatures must exceed 28°C for at least three days, while this drops to 27°C in the Midlands and 26°C in the South West.

In Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Devon and Cornwall and the North East it is 25°C.

Warnings about the extreme heat have been issued by both medical authorities and vets, urging people to keep the vulnerable and animals safe.

PHE advised people to look out for those who may struggle to keep cool and hydrated, such as older people and those who live alone.

Emergency animal care provider Vets Now also warned rising temperatures could increase the risk of heat stroke in dogs.

The vet service sees a spike in callouts as the weather warms up and has warned that temperatures above 20°C put dogs at risk, and that survival rates for dogs with heat stroke is just 50%.

The warnings come after a week of flash flooding in the south east of England, causing disruption to transport in London.