UK weather: Britain braces for devastating wildfires as August DROUGHT looms – maps

UK Weather: Met Office forecast next ten days

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Fire chiefs have warned cities in the UK need to prepare for wildfires after dozens of “unprecedented” blazes broke out during last week’s record-breaking temperatures. Temperatures reached above 40C across England last Tuesday in a heatwave which dried out gardens and farms, triggering wildfires that destroyed more than 40 properties.

National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) tactical advisor David Swallow said “services need to recognise the risk they’ve now got”.

He added: “If they don’t, then they’re naive.

“There are very urban services that think wildfires are low down on the risk list.

“I understand the need to prioritise resources, but there needs to be a review.”

This year alone England and Wales have experienced 442 wildfires – compared with 247 last year – the NFCC said.

This comes as the country prepares for a drought in August amid continuing hot weather.

Netweather meteorologist Nick Finnis said there is “little in the way of rain on the horizon for large parts of England and Wales” over the next few weeks.

He warned that the country is “in the midst of a growing drought across many areas”.

This, the forecaster said, has been “exacerbated by an exceptionally dry summer so far, with extreme heat last week accelerating the drought conditions by increasing demand for water”.

He added: “England faces drought in August if the hot and dry weather continues, with officials from the National Drought Group (NDG) discussing a plan of action today on how to cope with the conditions and protect water supplies.”

Maps from The Environment Agency (EA) show that river levels across the UK are either below normal, notably low or exceptionally low across the country, with only two locations ranked as “normal”.

The EA convened the NDG today, bringing together officials from the Environment Department (Defra), water companies, the Met Office, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and others.

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Most of England has moved into “prolonged dry weather” status – meaning the EA is now taking precautionary actions to mitigate impacts.

Nowhere in England is currently considered to be in a drought and most water companies are maintaining good reservoir storage for summer demand.

The EA said that if further measures are required, temporary use bans – more commonly known as hosepipe bans – will be determined by individual water companies.

Officials said recent abnormally high temperatures have exacerbated conditions resulting from lower than normal rainfall so far this year in many parts of England.

The Met Office is forecasting potentially several more dry weeks ahead, particularly in the south and east of the country.

Harvey Bradshaw, EA executive director for the environment and chair of the NDG, said: “While last week’s extreme high temperatures are now behind us and there are currently no plans for restrictions on essential water use, we can all do our bit by reducing unnecessary water consumption and following advice from our water company to ensure this remains the case while our rivers are exceptionally low.

“We are working very closely with water companies, farmers and other water users to manage the current situation.”

He added: “Today’s meeting was an important step in agreeing joint actions to protect our water resources with further dry weather forecasted for August, including ever-closer working to monitor and manage water supplies and the environment.”

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