Cooler weather returned to the United Kingdom on Wednesday, one day after a historic and unprecedented heat wave sent temperatures to unprecedented levels in the country.
At least 13 people died while swimming in Britain during a spell of record-breaking hot weather that sparked wildfires, damaged train tracks, and prompted warnings that efforts to combat climate change needed to be stepped up.
The London Fire Brigade endured its busiest day since World War Two on Tuesday when temperatures topped 40C for the first time, igniting fires that destroyed dozens of properties in the capital and torched tinderbox-dry grassland at the sides of railway tracks and roads.
At one point on Monday, two airport runways were forced to close due to damage to the surface. Power companies faced outages as the heat scorched their equipment, many schools closed early and zoos struggled to keep pets cool.
The heat was so intense that even the roads melted.
A busy street in Manchester’s Stockport town was virtually liquified earlier this week, according to the Manchester Evening News.
According to a witness, it sounded like cars were driving through puddles. Another local stated, “It was so soft that walking across it got your feet stuck. The tarmac was all stuck in my tyre treads.”
As record temperatures hit much of the UK on Tuesday, tech giants Google and Oracle experienced outages as cooling systems failed at their London data centres, according to the BBC.
Data centres are large, secure buildings that house banks of computers and serve as the powerhouses for many online services. However, the concentrated computing power produces so much heat that cooling is required.
Both companies say the problems have now been resolved.