Wednesday UK's hottest day of the year so far as heatwave continues

Crowds flocked to the beach in Bournemouth Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Large crowds headed to the beach in Bournemouth to bask in the hot weather

Wednesday is officially the hottest day of the year so far, with people flocking to beaches and beauty spots.

The Met Office said the temperature hit 32.6C at Heathrow Airport at 14:26 BST on Wednesday, beating the previous record of 28.9C set at the end of May.

A level three heat-health alert has been set for parts of England, with advice to take extra care in the sun.

The heatwave is set to break from Thursday evening, with a yellow weather warning for thunderstorms in the UK.

The Met Office warning covers parts of the UK, including Wales, Northern Ireland and areas of Scotland.

A separate yellow weather warning for thunderstorms across most of the UK is in place from 12:00 BST on Friday to 06:00 BST on Saturday.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Families relax on the Merseyside's Crosby Beach, where lifeguards put out signs warning of strong currents
Image copyright PA Media
Image caption People enjoy the hot weather by Three Shires Head on the River Dane, where Cheshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire meet

Scotland and Northern Ireland have been slightly cooler, with a high of 26.9C recorded in Charterhall in Berwickshire, and 21.8C in Derrylin, County Fermanagh. In Wales, meanwhile, temperatures peaked at 30C in Cardiff.

Tuesday missed out on being the UK's hottest day this year, with a temperature of 28.6C recorded at Heathrow Airport and Kew Gardens.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Groups enjoy the hot weather at Durdle Door in Dorset

The highest UK maximum temperature recorded in June is currently 35.6C, set at Mayflower Park, Southampton on 28 June 1976.

People have been taking advantage of the heatwave by heading to beaches and beauty spots, with crowds of sunbathers pictured on beaches in Brighton and Bournemouth.

However, council leader Vikki Slade warned Dorset wasn't ready for visitors yet, tweeting "please do not come" in response to a video showing crowds of people arriving at Bournemouth train station.

She added: "Your visit will be much more enjoyable if you come after 4 July when we will be fully prepared for your visit."

That date is when businesses such as hotels, museums and restaurants will be able to reopen after Boris Johnson announced sweeping changes to England's lockdown.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Daytrippers soaked up the sun and took a swim on Brighton Beach
Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Crowds flocked to the beach in Scarborough on Wednesday

The Met Office raised the level of its heat-health alert to three for the West Midlands and East Midlands on Wednesday, as health officials advised the most vulnerable - many of whom have been shielding during the lockdown - to protect themselves amid the "exceptionally hot weather forecast this week".

Public Health England (PHE) said older people, those with underlying health conditions, and very young children were all more at risk from the higher temperatures.

St John Ambulance advised shoppers to be aware they could be forced to spend extra time in the sun as a result of social distancing measures and to be prepared.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A group enjoy the view on Blackpool seafront
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A sunbather enjoys the hot weather in London's Greenwich Park

Warnings have been also issued about UV levels, which are going to be "exceptionally high" over the next couple of days.

Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said these will reach eight across many places and nine across parts of Devon and Cornwall on Thursday.

"That's about as high as it gets really in the UK."

Meanwhile, NHS Property Services warned that hand sanitiser should not be left in hot cars, as it can catch fire in high temperatures.

However the organisation later clarified saying it now understood that risks associated with hand sanitisers in cars "only become apparent when in contact with a spark".

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Paddleboarders on the Grand Union Canal in Little Venice, London

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