With thanks to Mrs Joan Ryan, North Curry, Somerset, England
UK weather: Heatwave to bring highs of 37C on hottest day of year – before lightning, flooding and hail
The British heatwave could bring its most intense conditions yet with forecasted highs of 37C (98.6F) on Friday accompanied by severe thunderstorms. After some storms early on Friday, motorists are warned ahead of lightning, flash flooding and large hailstones that could hit eastern areas in the afternoon, with a sever weather warning in place for the afternoon until just before midnight. Temperatures are forecast to be in the mid-30s for much of east and south east England, reaching an estimated 37C in London on so-called Furnace Friday. That would make it the hottest July day ever – the previous record of 36.7C was set in Heathrow in 2015. And the mercury could rise higher still if there is a lot of sunshine, Met Office meteorologist Alex Deakin said. There is a chance the all-time UK record of 38.5C (101.3F) could be broken, with the hot weather set to continue into August. Meanwhile, cross-Channel rail passengers face difficult journeys after operator Eurotunnel cancelled thousands of tickets as “extreme temperatures” caused major disruption to services. The firm took the “unprecedented decision” to stop passengers from travelling on Friday if they were due to return on the same day or Saturday in a bid to ease long queues. Passengers had faced delays of up to six-and-a-half hours on Thursday when air-conditioning units failed on trains. Mr Deakin said: “The reason there’s some uncertainty is because of the thunderstorms, how many we see and where they get going … torrential rain, the risk of local flooding, large hailstones potentially damaging, lots of flashes of lighting and rumbles of thunder. “Roads like the M11, M18, M1 and A1 won’t be very pleasant, a lot of spray and surface water around.” Thursday saw the hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures reaching a peak of 35.1C (95.1F) at Heathrow. A mix of toxic air, extreme highs, emissions from the continent and a lack of cloud cover caused a “high” air pollution alert to be issued for London. Meanwhile, authorities said the heatwave was causing “winter conditions” in parts of the NHS, while many nurses were said to be dizzy and exhausted. Fire brigades also called for a ban on BBQs in parks and drivers were urged not to throw rubbish following a string of grassland fires in recent weeks. Going into Friday night, more showers will come into parts of Wales, south west England and northern Ireland in a sign of things to come for the weekend, Mr Deakin added. Most places will see temperatures closer to average for the time of year, around the high teens to low 20s, with the chance of showers and strong breezes, Mr Deakin said. Some areas will see a more than 10C drop between Friday and Saturday. He added: “Weather fronts are trying to come in from the Atlantic and eventually they will do so. And that has the impact of ousting the really hot and humid air .. it turns runs cooler for the weekend, fresher, more comfortable at night…”.
Britain unprepared for heatwaves, warn MPs as Friday could be hottest day on record at 38.5C
Britain is unprepared to cope with heatwaves, a major report by MPs has warned, as the Met Office forecast that the UK could see its hottest ever day on Friday, with temperatures reaching 101F (38.5C). The Environmental Audit Committee said adapting to a warming climate was now a ‘matter of life and death’ and without action, thousands of people will die each year. The committee warned that building regulations brought in to make modern homes and offices more energy efficient had left householders and workers sweltering in overly-insulated buildings, with little ventilation, and called for updated guidelines. And they said road and rail services had not been built to cope with hot weather, with just half of Britain’s motorways surfaced with material that can withstand high temperatures, and rail tracks increasingly at risk of buckling, causing serious timetable disruption. The Royal College of Nursing warned that people were already ‘vomiting and passing out’ from the heat and MPs said public health guidance should be issued to to employers and schools to relax dress and uniform codes and allow flexible working.
A survey carried out by the committee also found that schools are so hot in the summer than nine in 10 teachers are forced to personally buy fans to make classrooms bearable. MPs warned that by the 2040s Britain will face similar heatwaves every two years, and called for a minister be appointed to tackle the growing crisis. Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said: “Heatwaves cause premature deaths from cardiac, kidney and respiratory disease. There will be 7,000 heat-related deaths every year in the UK by 2050 if the Government does not take action. “The Government’s new adaptation plan promises no effective action to prevent overheating in buildings. “It must change building regulations and planning policies to ensure homes and transport networks are able to deal with extreme heat, and that local authorities and cities have green spaces and heat-resilient infrastructure.” A Level 3 heat health watch alert covering a large part of England has been issued by the Met Office and Public Health England, warning people to stay out of the sun and keep their homes as cool as possible. Britain is just one stage away from a national emergency, which will be triggered if healthy people start becoming seriously ill from the heat. But visits to the NHS Choices website have already risen 450 per cent as people struggle to cope with heat exhaustion and sunstroke. Wendy Preston, Head of Nursing at the Royal College of Nursing, said: “The heat is already affecting patients in health and social care settings up and down the country. “Our members have reported people vomiting and passing out, and it is clear the UK’s health care infrastructure is simply not designed to deal with increasingly hot summers.” “This summer is just a taste of what could be in store for the UK in the face of climate change, and the Government must act now to prevent a major public health crisis.” The Met Office said the heatwave will peak on Thursday and Friday with temperatures rising to 98F (37C) and beyond in southeast England. The highest temperature ever recorded in Britain was 101F ( 38.5C) at Faversham on 10 August 2003, but forecasters said Friday could beat the record. Paul Gundersen, Chief Meteorologist at The Met Office, said: “The heatwave conditions will continue across much of England, with temperatures into the mid to high 30s Celsius in many places from the Midlands eastwards on Thursday and Friday and it’s possible that we could break the all-time UK record of 38.5° C if conditions all come together.” Thunderstorms are expected to bring a temporary relief for some parts of Britain over the next few days, before the heatwave returns next week.
NORTH CURRY : 15°C/27°C
NIMWEGEN : Today: 19°C/37°C
The space age Hyperloop sounds fun – but speed isn’t everything in travel, some-times it’s the journey itself
He’s at it again. Having promised us space tourism, and trains that run on time, the relentlessly optimistic Sir Richard Branson is now pledging to bring us another revolutionary form of travel: the Hyperloop One. In these futuristic pods – the brainchild of Tesla billionaire Elon Musk – passengers will hurtle through low-pressure tubes at speeds of up to 670mph. With Branson now in the driving seat, the plan is to launch the Virgin Hyperloop One in 2021. This hyperloop would connect Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, enabling passengers to travel between the airports in as little as five minutes, seven to Stansted: no need for a third runway. Another connecting London to Edinburgh would cut the four-and-a-half hour train journey to a mere 45 minutes. It sounds incredible. Travelling 100mph faster than a cruising Boeing 747, we will whip across counties in minutes. No need for torturous journeys by bus, train and tube to make – or miss – a plane connection. No more sweating and swearing on the M25. Greater London becomes an invisible irrelevance. Yet for all the time it saves, the Hyperloop will rob us of something too. High-speed travel may be efficient but it is deeply unromantic. Entering a metal tube in one place and emerging a short while later in another, where the climate, culture and landscape are entirely different is, as any long-haul air travellers knows, discombobulating and jarring. In a normal train you can observe the scenery unfurl outside, the city fraying at the edges, the gaps between houses growing larger, until they become countryside. You observe the details that delineate county boundaries: redbrick and golf courses give way to brick-and-flint and fields, then to stone thatches and sheep. Your window becomes a gallery of Turner and Constable paintings flashing by. None of this will you witness as you hurtle in a pod, like a receipt whizzing through those pneumatic messaging tubes used by old-fashioned stores. You will enter it in the Home Counties and minutes later arrive in East Anglia. Imagine the culture shock! Or exchange London for Edinburgh in under an hour, missing out on hundreds of miles of breathtaking scenery. For what? To arrive feeling desiccated, exhausted, disoriented, if air travel is anything to go by. Our bodies were built for slower speeds. A century ago, even a ten-mile journey was an event. Neighbours sat beside each other in carts, or walked and talked on their way to market. Now that we travel more speedily we gain time but lose much else. Travelling on foot you get to know every nuance of the landscape and seasons: pregnant ewes and crocuses clustering herald spring. On buses and trains you get to know people on your route. As we spend our working days in airless offices, our leisure time in virtual worlds, even shared meals glued to our phones, staying in touch with the real world feels increasingly important. Some people have woken up to this and choose to walk for an hour rather than spend twenty minutes on the Tube. A friend’s father eschews air travel and travels by container ship: it’s cheap, sedate and he experiences several cultures and climates en route. Cruises are popular for similar reasons. Pods may sound like progress but I, for one, hope that they don’t take off.
Walter Mitty Hunters Club: Facebook group exposes military imposters
The number of people falsely claiming illustrious military backgrounds is on the rise. Simon Usborne meets the vigilantes intent on exposing these real-life Walter Mittys
It was one of the more dramatic recent victories for a secretive group of online vigilantes. With the help of the Walter Mitty Hunters Club, a Facebook group devoted to exposing military imposters, a brother and sister from Hertfordshire discovered that their step-father had lied to his family for 15 years. Mark Izzard, from Waltham Cross, had told those closest to him that he was an SAS veteran with the medals and war stories to show for it. He now admits that the photographs he shared online, showing him posing in a beret and in action in warzones, had been faked or taken from the internet. The lorry driver even posted himself a letter detailing his military record and discharge from the SAS, which he left for his late partner to open. But the Walter Mitty group, whose anonymous members zealously expose so-called “Walts” – named after the fictional fantasist who pretended to be, among other things, a Navy pilot – quickly identified the flaws in his story. The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that it has no record of Izzard, who told a Sun reporter this week: “It started off as a joke in the pub with a bird years ago.” The exposure is the latest of dozens in recent years and highlights the appeal for some men of a fabricated military life or past. Groups of genuine veterans have mushroomed in response, to moni-tor social and old media in their search for Walts. “It’s important because these people create lies on the backs of the hard work and sacrifice of our men and women in the armed forces,” an anonymous member of the Hunters Club tells The Inde-pendent via Facebook. “They give a false representation to those not aware and in most cases give a bad impression.” The hunter says that his group, which emerged in 2013 and now has more than 20 members, has exposed more than 300 imposters. “If you are pretending to be a war veteran, we’re probably already watching you!” its page warns. Some lie or exaggerate for professional gain, he adds, pointing out a recent case in which an ex-SAS military adviser working in Hollywood took down his own profile in response to challenging questions about his record. Others fabricate claims to receive sympathy or the support of veterans’ charities, the spokesman adds. But for many the motivations are more complex. “It can be a way of trying to boost one’s esteem when the person has nothing to be rightly proud about,” says Professor Neil Greenberg, a British Navy veteran and specialist in defence mental health at King’s College London. Greenberg has come across several Walts, but, in his clinics, he has also observed an inclination to exaggerate in genuine members of the armed forces. “So someone who had been a logistician with a Marines unit might say that he was involved in covert ops,” he explains. “When I would ask questions and tell him I was security-cleared, the story would become more vague.” The Hunters Club vigilante notes that such behaviour went up a gear in the US and Britain during the military action that followed 9/11. “People see how vets are now being given a huge amount of respect and discounts,” he writes. “They want a piece of it but without having to risked life or limb.” There is no suggestion that Izzard ever tried to take such advantage from his claim of being in the SAS. The Club has been accused of taking things too far, and harassing the accused, but veterans charities have said they are a useful deterrent, and call for better legislation. In 2013, Ba-rack Obama signed the Stolen Valor Act to outlaw military impersonation in a country where the bene-fits of service can be significant. British laws are not as tight but prosecutions, while rare, can be brought under fraud laws or the 1894 Uniforms Act. “The police and judges need more legal guidance in order to correctly prosecute for the more serious cases,” the Hunters Club member says.