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Brits could see hottest day ever as heat wave fuels fires across Europe

Heat wave across Europe
Evacuations in Europe as wildfires continue 02:06

London — People across the United Kingdom have been warned to brace for what could be Britain's hottest day ever recorded, with temperatures expected to soar over the 100-degree mark. People in London and a vast swath of England were already baking in temperatures well into the mid-90s before lunchtime on Monday.

Forecasters warned that some areas could touch 40 degrees Celsius on Monday or Tuesday — a landmark which, at 104 Fahrenheit, is about 30 degrees over typical summer temperatures in the U.K.

As CBS News correspondent Roxana Saberi reports, the same heat wave is already blamed for the extreme temperatures fueling widespread wildfires across other parts of Europe.

Scientists say it is climate change driven by human activity that's bringing more heat, more often to Europe.

Saberi reports the wildfires raging across southwest France have already scorched around 35,000 acres and forced more than 16,000 people to flee.

Thousands forced to evacuate due to wildfires as devastating heatwave sweeps Europe 02:06

In Spain, where a new national high-temperature record was set just several days ago at 117 degrees, the scenes are similarly apocalyptic with fires tearing across the south. 

Authorities have already blamed more than 1,000 deaths on the current heat wave in Spain and neighboring Portugal, which remained on high alert Monday as fires charred land parched by a drought that has hit at least 96% of the country.

Back in the north, the expected scorching temperatures prompted Britain's National Weather Service to issue its first-ever "red warning" for extreme heat, indicating a "risk to life."

Scientists say heat waves have become more frequent, more intense, and longer lasting.

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"Climate change has everything to do with the extreme weather that we're seeing at the moment, and it's human-induced climate change, it's not a natural variation," Kirsty McCabe, a meteorologist at the U.K.'s Royal Meteorological Society, told CBS News.

Asked if weather like this was likely to become the norm for Britain and its neighbors, she left little room for doubt.

"Unfortunately, yes. That's exactly where we are heading at the moment," McCabe said, "if we don't do some drastic action, we will continue to see these things happening."

Summer weather July 18th 2022
Eddie, a four year old golden retriever, rides on a District Line train on London's Underground train network, during a heat wave, July 18, 2022. Yui Mok/PA Images/Getty

The U.K. is more accustomed to rain and clouds than extreme heat. Most homes don't have air conditioning, and many schools don't either, prompting some to cancel classes early this week.

Briton's have also been warned not to use the trains unless absolutely necessary. The heat could buckle the tracks, so many scheduled trips have been canceled or delayed in a bid to avoid last-minute cancelations and chaos at sweltering stations across the country.

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