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UK heatwave to set 40-year temperature record

Forecasters are predicting Britain’s hottest June day for 40 years, although some parts of the country could be hit by torrential rain.

Temperatures of up to 34C (93.2F) are expected in London on Wednesday, which would make it the hottest day since the 35.6C recorded in Southampton on 28 June 1976.

It would also comfortably exceed the previous highest temperature recorded on the summer solstice, which was 31.7C at Camden Square, north London, in 1936.

NHS England has urged the elderly, children and those with medical conditions to keep cool and hydrated during the heatwave, with the mercury topping 30C every day since Saturday.

Three people have already died after getting into difficulty while attempting to cool off. On Tuesday evening, an as-yet-unidentified teenager died after failing to resurface when swimming in a lake near Walsall. On Monday, another teenage boy drowned in a reservoir, outside Rochdale, Greater Manchester, and a woman in her 80s died after being pulled from the sea at East Wittering beach in West Sussex.

The heatwave has led to roads melting in some areas, and speed restrictions and cancellations on train lines due to the risk of tracks buckling.

Transport for London reassured concerned customers that softening of sealant on the capital’s tramline was harmless.

The mercury had already reached 25C in Bournemouth by 10am on Wednesday and is expected to peak in the mid-afternoon. The last time it approached the mid-30s was in 1995.

(@metoffice)

☀️We will reach the peak of the #heatwave today, with highs of 34 °C. For those who don’t like the heat, it will feel much fresher tomorrow pic.twitter.com/1QsFLG3rwf

The average June temperature is 18.6C for England and lower for the UK as a whole, although temperatures would be expected to be somewhat higher towards the end of the month.

A Met Office spokeswoman, Emma Sharples, said: “It will be very hot in south-east England and Wales. We will be 10 to 13 degrees above what you’d normally expect.”

But she added: “There’s already some lightning moving across northern England and Scotland, and we could see some quite torrential downpours this afternoon.”

Sunbathing at Brighton beach. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA

The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning over the threat of “sudden localised flooding of transport routes, homes and businesses” in southern Scotland and northern England, with the possibility of it spreading over a larger part of England and Wales later on Wednesday. It also warned of hail and said lightning could temporarily disrupt power supplies.

Sharples said Wednesday was expected to be the peak of the hot weather, with temperatures likely to fall thereafter, although they could still reach the mid- to high 20s on Thursday before gradually dropping off.

Other disruption included tarmac reportedly melting in Lancashire and Cambridgeshire, where the county council used gritters to firm up roads.

At Royal Ascot in Berkshire, race organisers said they were considering relaxing the strict dress code for the first time, and conditions will be trying for revellers arriving at the Glastonbury festival carrying rucksacks and tents.

The hot summer of 1976 led to Britain suffering a severe drought and people forced to queue to use standpipes. It was also the year the minister for drought, Denis Howell, infamously suggested people share baths with a friend.