UK weather forecast: Choking smog cloud to cover UK as new weather warnings issued

BBC Weather: UK set for unsettled conditions as heat continues

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Pollution levels will surge across swathes of the country this weekend as the mercury rockets into the upper 30Cs.

The second major heatwave of summer will climax amid a raft of government health and weather warnings. Now Defra (The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs) forecasts soaring air pollution through the coming days and into next week.

Levels will reach “moderate” across much of the UK today and tomorrow before reaching “high” in parts of eastern and central England on Monday. A spokesman said: “Widespread “Moderate” air pollution is forecast across England and Wales, with isolated pockets over Scotland.

“The remainder of Scotland, the whole of Northern Ireland and parts of eastern England will have “Low” air pollution. Isolated pockets of “High” air pollution levels may affect parts of central southern England at times.”

European air-monitoring service Prev’Air predicts the culprit will be ozone, which this weekend will reach upwards of 180 micrograms per meter cubed, 80 over accepted safe limits.

Ozone occurs naturally in the upper atmosphere but can be brought to low levels by pollution and intense sunlight, where it can be dangerous. Asthmatics, the elderly and the vulnerable are urged to take extra care as hot weather drives poor air quality.

A spokesman for the UK Air Information Resource, a department of Defra, said: “Some people are more sensitive to pollution than others and may begin to notice an effect on their breathing.

“People with asthma are not necessarily more sensitive but, if affected, can use their reliever inhaler to alleviate symptoms.”

Air-pollution expert Kate Langford, of Impact on Urban Health added: “This week, the most vulnerable people in our communities – older people, children, and people with health conditions – are being hit with a dual crisis of dangerously high temperatures and increases in air pollution.

“Many of the causes of air pollution also cause the temperature rises that are part of the climate crisis.

“As it becomes more common for us to see city-wide air pollution alerts and heatwave warnings, it’s vital Government, businesses and communities work to reduce polluting emissions.”

The warning comes as Britain faces bakes with temperatures in parts today expected to rocket to 37C. Blistering heat, just off from the scale seen last month, will hold out through the weekend before temperatures dip on Monday.

It will turn cooler through next week when parts of the country could see the first rainfall for months.

Jim Dale, a meteorologist for British Weather Services, said: “Saturday is likely to be the peak of the heatwave and we could see 37C in southern regions, particularly London, the south and the southwest. Sunday will still be very warm to hot, and there is no let-up really for the two days of the weekend.

“The breakdown starts on Sunday evening, and into the start of next week is when there is more in the way of rain and temperatures will be lower compared to the weekend.”

Torrential downpours will run off bone-dry ground and do little to solve the drought crisis, he added.

He said: “In this situation, what is needed is long periods of sustained rainfall to replenish water reserves. The forecast is for heavy downpours as the heatwave breaks.”        

Runners and keep-fitters should avoid exercising in open spaces during the hottest periods of the day, according to experts.

Health and wellness coach Ryan French, the founder of Military Outdoor Fitness (MOFit), based in Greenwich and Blackheath, London, said: “It is best to exercise outdoors in the morning when it is cooler, and avoid direct sunlight.

“If you do take physical activity during this hot weather, it is essential to keep hydrated, so be sure to drink around three to five litres a day.”

While temperatures will be widely well above average through the next couple of days, Scotland will be cooler, according to the Met Office.

However, with parks, forests, fields and heaths bone dry after weeks of scorching weather, government forecasters warn of an ongoing risk of fires.

Met Office meteorologist Aidan McGivern said: “Northeast England and Scotland will be cooling down by Saturday because of an increase in low cloud, mist and fog.

“Elsewhere, by night, temperatures will stay up, and there will be some very warm nights and hot days with temperatures reaching the mid-30Cs in places, and this is unusually hot for the UK.

“For some, there can be serious health impacts, and that’s why we have an extreme heat warning. There is a particularly high risk of wildfires at the moment.”

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