Drought is set to be declared TODAY bringing fears of more hosepipe bans while experts predict dry conditions could last into next YEAR - and Britons panic-buy water ahead of 95F heat

'Drought-stricken' south and East will be declared in a state of drought putting pressure on water companies Some of England experienced the driest July since records began as reservoirs fell to lowest level in 30 yearsTemperatures will hit 95F (35C) today and are forecasted to rise to 99F (37C) over the weekend with warningsAround 17million people are already affected by hosepipe bans – and another 15million could soon join them

Large parts of England are set to be officially declared in a state of drought today which could last until next year – and leaving millions more facing hosepipe bans and other curbs as temperatures hit 95F (35C) today making the country hotter than parts of the Caribbean.

The hardest-hit areas in the South and East of the country are expected to be classified as drought-stricken which will put pressure on water companies to do more to conserve supplies and Brits panic buy bottled water in case of shortages.

Around 17million people are already affected by hosepipe bans – and another 15million could soon join them after the driest July on record for some areas and the driest first half of the year since 1976.

Jamie Hannaford, a hydrologist at the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, which advises the Government, told the Telegraph: ‘The autumn-winter period as a whole will be critical to dictating what the water resources position will be as we go into 2023.’

There are also fears that when it finally does rain that it will cause flash floods, the Met Office said with warnings set for northern parts of the UK next week. This has already prompted farmers like TV star Jeremy Clarkson to harvest their crops early.

‘It may be the wrong type of rain because it falls very fast and very hard,’ Paul Davies, the Met Office chief meteorologist, told the BBC. ‘When it comes against the hard ground then the water flows very fast, taking debris and causing flash flooding, whereas other areas may see very little at all.’

Experts also worry about the knock on effect on farmers which could push up prices and deplete supplies of potato, apple, hop harvests, broccoli and sprouts.

Parts of southern England have had the driest July since records began, and reservoir levels have fallen to their lowest levels in 30 years. Sources last night said they expect the drought declaration to be a ‘formality’.

A four-day amber warning for extreme heat from the Met Office is in place for much of England and Wales until Sunday as temperatures are forecasted to rise to 99F (37C) over the weekend with warnings of health impacts and disruption to travel.

Low water level is pictured yesterday at Pontsticill Reservoir amid the ongoing heat wave near Merthyr Tydfil, Wales.

Low water level is pictured yesterday at Pontsticill Reservoir amid the ongoing heat wave near Merthyr Tydfil, Wales.

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#uk #heatwave #hosepipeban #foryou #2ndheatwave

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Brits have been trying to beat the hosepipe band by coming out with initiative solutions to get around the measure

Brits have been trying to beat the hosepipe band by coming out with initiative solutions to get around the measure

The driest first seven months of the year in decades and hot spells have left parts of the UK facing looming drought, prompting hosepipe bans and warnings about the impact on agriculture, rivers and wildlife. Pictured: A dried out pond in Churchill Gardens, Bromley, east London

The driest first seven months of the year in decades and hot spells have left parts of the UK facing looming drought, prompting hosepipe bans and warnings about the impact on agriculture, rivers and wildlife. Pictured: A dried out pond in Churchill Gardens, Bromley, east London

New oak trees in Windsor Great Park begin to grow next to dead oak trees which still provide a vital habitat for insects

New oak trees in Windsor Great Park begin to grow next to dead oak trees which still provide a vital habitat for insects

A completely dry pond in Wanstead Park in northeast London, as heatwaves and drought caused by climate change continue in the UK

A completely dry pond in Wanstead Park in northeast London, as heatwaves and drought caused by climate change continue in the UK

A Highland Cow at Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire on Thursday afternoon looking to cool down and get a drink by the watering hole before it dries out

A Highland Cow at Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire on Thursday afternoon looking to cool down and get a drink by the watering hole before it dries out

A dried riverbed in Kemble, Gloucestershire, near the source of the River Thames is pictured yesterday

A dried riverbed in Kemble, Gloucestershire, near the source of the River Thames is pictured yesterday

Firefighters put out a grass fire at Hollow Ponds in Leytonstone, East London, yesterday

Firefighters put out a grass fire at Hollow Ponds in Leytonstone, East London, yesterday

It would be the first drought declared in the UK since 2018 – although that one was rapidly brought to an end by heavy rain.

The move will be announced after a meeting today of the National Drought Group, led by the Environment Agency and including water firms and groups such as the National Farmers’ Union and the Angling Trust. It comes as:

  • A Met Office amber warning for extreme heat came into force yesterday that will last until Sunday; 
  • Forecasters said temperatures could hit 37C (99F) in Birmingham and London between today and the end of the weekend; 
  • Fire chiefs saw eight times as many grass fires this week compared to a year ago; 
  • Police say arsonists have targeted tinder-dry fields and parks; 
  • Sainsbury’s became the latest supermarket to stop the sale of disposable barbecues; 
  • Meteorologists said showers next week are unlikely to be enough to replenish reservoirs; 

While an official declaration of drought will not trigger any specific action by water companies, it creates a ‘sense of urgency’ for them, according to Government sources. An Environment Agency spokesman said firms were under no obligation to take action. Three firms have already announced hosepipe bans – Southern Water, South East Water and Welsh Water. Thames Water and Yorkshire Water have signalled they are considering bans, and South West Water and Severn Trent are also expected to bring in restrictions.

Together, they would cover around 32 million people. Stuart Colville, of industry trade body Water UK, told the BBC an official declaration of drought was looking ‘increasingly inevitable’.

There has been criticism that water firms in England and Wales let 681 million gallons of water leak from their pipes every day, equivalent to 1,245 full Olympic swimming pools. Tory leadership candidate Rishi Sunak yesterday vowed to crack down on leaking water companies if he becomes prime minister, saying ‘nothing is off the table’. But aides in Liz Truss’s camp said this amounted to a policy U-turn as he had previously supported hosepipe bans.

The UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology said it would require ‘exceptional’ rainfall over the next one to three months to replenish water stocks. Satellite images show huge areas of England looking yellow and parched under the extreme dry weather.

According to the Sun, some supermarket shelves were stripped dry from water bottles.

Hosepipe bans also in turn have an effect on farmers, which could threaten crops.

Jerry Knox, a professor of agricultural water management at Cranfield University, told the Guardian: ‘We are starting to see real issues for crops such as potatoes. We will see reduced yields and particularly reduced quality.’

‘Potatoes are set to become more expensive while farmers are already abandoning plans to grow brassicas like cabbages,’ Professor Jerry Knox of Cranfield University told the Times. ‘The autumn and winter will be critical to to return to normal conditions.’

Professor Liz Bentley, chief executive of the Royal Meteorological Society, said: ‘Drought will not disappear in a matter of days — it’s going to take a long period of sustained rainfall.’

The UK Health Security Agency has put a heat health alert in place. Temperatures hit 34.2C (93.6F) at Wiggonholt, West Sussex, yesterday.

Forecaster Craig Snell told the PA news agency: ‘It’s going to be an incredibly hot day, and very sunny across the board, with temperatures slightly higher than what we saw on Thursday.’

There is also a heat health alert in place from the UK Health Security Agency, with experts advising people to look out for those who are older or with existing health conditions, as well as young children.

The ongoing dry conditions, combined with last month’s record-breaking heatwave, have depleted rivers, reservoirs and aquifers and dried up soils, hitting agriculture, water supplies and wildlife and raising the risk of wildfires.

Four water companies in England and Wales have already brought in hosepipe bans or have signalled their intention to do so, while the Wildlife Trusts have called for an England-wide hosepipe ban to protect nature and rivers.

Pictured: West Midlands fire service are warning Britons to stay safe in the heat and keep hydrated throughout the heatwave

Pictured: West Midlands fire service are warning Britons to stay safe in the heat and keep hydrated throughout the heatwave

A fire, pictured, which has broken out on Salisbury Plain, in Wiltshire yesterday as the UK is warned of more wildfires at the weekend

A fire, pictured, which has broken out on Salisbury Plain, in Wiltshire yesterday as the UK is warned of more wildfires at the weekend

Firefighters attend to a fire, yesterday, following a long period of hot weather and little rain, in Rainham, Essex

Firefighters attend to a fire, yesterday, following a long period of hot weather and little rain, in Rainham, Essex

Pictured, smoke rises as firefighters seen tackling the blaze in Rainham, Essex
Firefighters attend to a fire in Rainham, Essex today, following a long period of hot weather and little rain

Firefighters attend to a fire in Rainham, Essex yesterday, following a long period of hot weather and little rain

A water tanker in Northend, Oxfordshire, yesterday as dozens of homes in the Oxfordshire village were left without water after E.coli was found in a nearby reservoir

A water tanker in Northend, Oxfordshire, yesterday as dozens of homes in the Oxfordshire village were left without water after E.coli was found in a nearby reservoir

Grass wildfire on Canvey Island yesterday. A wildfire started very close to the big Morrison's store and spread very quickly.

Grass wildfire on Canvey Island yesterday. A wildfire started very close to the big Morrison’s store and spread very quickly.

A man is pictured walking on a path amongst dead grass in Victoria Park, east London. The Met Office has issued an amber heat warning running between Thursday and Sunday, which could see temperatures peak at 36C across southern England and eastern Wales

A man is pictured walking on a path amongst dead grass in Victoria Park, east London. The Met Office has issued an amber heat warning running between Thursday and Sunday, which could see temperatures peak at 36C across southern England and eastern Wales

Some water companies have failed to meet their own targets for cutting household leaks and domestic use, with many blaming the coronavirus pandemic as more people have been at home.

Ofwat, the water regulator. said in a statement: ‘Progress has been made in the past few years but there is much further to go, which is why we are pushing companies to reduce leakage, fix their environmental performance and become more financially resilient while keeping bills affordable and helping customers reduce their consumption.

‘Where we find that companies have fallen short, we will act – over the last five years, for example, we have imposed penalties and payments of over £250 million.’

It comes after temperatures reached 34.2C at Wiggonholt, West Sussex, on Thursday afternoon, while many areas in southern England and Wales hit the low 30s.

Fires broke out in different areas, including London, Essex, Gloucestershire, Surrey and Cheshire, yesterday.

The London Fire Brigade were called at 11:36am yesterday to a fire at Hollow Ponds on Whipps Cross Road in Leytonstone, where around 75 square metres of grass and shrub land were alight. Two fire engines and around 10 firefighters attended the scene and the inferno was under control around an hour later. The cause of the blaze is still being investigated.

National Highways have also urged Britons to be ‘prepared’ with bottles of water before setting out amid more train strikes scheduled this weekend.

Met Office meteorologist Marco Petagna said: ‘The risk is very high across much of central, southern and eastern England. Going into Friday and the weekend, it starts to increase further, going into the highest category of exceptional risk.’

Heatwave thresholds – which are met at different temperatures in different parts of the country – are likely to be hit in much of the UK.

Temperatures reached 34.2C at Wiggonholt, West Sussex, on Thursday afternoon, and climbed above 33C in a number of places from Shropshire to the south east of England.

Met Office chief meteorologist Andy Page also said: ‘Persistent high pressure over the UK means temperatures have been rising day-on-day through this week and it is important people plan for the heat.

‘Temperatures are expected to peak at 35C on Friday and possibly 36C over the weekend.

‘We will also see increasingly warm nights, with temperatures expected not to drop below the low 20s for some places in the south.’

He said temperatures would drop early next week, with heavy showers and thunderstorms likely in some areas – but it was ‘impossible to say yet exactly where and when they will occur’.

Britain has been told to brace for a sweltering heatwave this week as a Level 3 Heat Health Alert also came into effect Tuesday and has been extended until Saturday – with little rain expected to help relieve the threat of drought which has prompted hosepipe bans and fire warnings.

Mark Hardingham, the chairman of the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) said that he ‘can’t remember a summer like this’ in his entire 32-year career in the fire service.

A cyclist braves the soaring temperatures across Britain yesterday as the Met Office has also raised its Fire Severity Index to exceptional

A cyclist braves the soaring temperatures across Britain yesterday as the Met Office has also raised its Fire Severity Index to exceptional

A woman was pictured walking near Big Ben in London yesterday as heatwaves and prolonged dry weather are damaging landscapes, gardens and wildlife, the National Trust has warned

A woman was pictured walking near Big Ben in London yesterday as heatwaves and prolonged dry weather are damaging landscapes, gardens and wildlife, the National Trust has warned

Algal blooms are smothering parts of the Jubilee River in Slough, Berkshire yesterday. As the heatwave continues an Amber Level 3 Heat Health Alert remains in force with temperatures forecast to peak on Saturday

Algal blooms are smothering parts of the Jubilee River in Slough, Berkshire yesterday. As the heatwave continues an Amber Level 3 Heat Health Alert remains in force with temperatures forecast to peak on Saturday

Firefighters put out a grass fire at Hollow Ponds in Leytonstone, East London on Thursday afternoon as parts of the UK have become a tinder box due to the extreme hot weather

Firefighters put out a grass fire at Hollow Ponds in Leytonstone, East London on Thursday afternoon as parts of the UK have become a tinder box due to the extreme hot weather

Pictured: A view from the runway of Gatwick Airport sees smoke billowing in the distance from a suspected wildfire from the Crawley area earlier today. The heat and constant dry weather in the south west has risen concerns about serious drought and wildfires

Pictured: A view from the runway of Gatwick Airport sees smoke billowing in the distance from a suspected wildfire from the Crawley area earlier today. The heat and constant dry weather in the south west has risen concerns about serious drought and wildfires

He told The Telegraph: ‘We’re not going to see temperatures as hot as we saw three weeks ago, but that doesn’t matter because the ground couldn’t get any drier than it already is.

‘The wildfires are as prevalent in semi-urban areas as they are in rural communities so it’s difficult to know where the next one will be.’

It comes as firefighters are tackling a village field fire in Leicestershire this afternoon as temperatures soar across the county.

Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service were called to reports of a ‘substantial fire involving crop’ in Sutton Cheney, north of Hinckley.

Crews were first alerted to the scene in Bosworth Road at 12.46pm yesterday and are still tackling the blaze.

People have been asked to avoid the area while the fire is dealt with. Leicestershire Police has also been called to the scene.

Meanwhile, London Fire Brigade said its control room had dealt with 340 grass, rubbish and open land fires during the first week of August – an eightfold increase on the 42 during the same week last year.

Assistant Commissioner Jonathan Smith said: ‘This summer has seen an unprecedented long, dry spell with high temperatures, so the grass in London is tinderbox dry and the smallest of sparks can start a blaze which could cause devastation.

‘Despite our continued warning over the last few weeks, we know there are still people who are barbecuing in parks, dropping cigarettes out of car windows and leaving rubbish lying around.

‘We really need to prevent a repeat of the situation we saw on July 19, when homes, shops, garages, outbuildings and vehicles were destroyed across London in a number of significant fires.

‘The professionals on the ground have been warning that these conditions are coming and we very much saw the reality of that in these last few weeks.

‘Firefighters have been injured, firefighters have ended up in hospital, we’ve seen families lose their homes, we’ve seen businesses lost, infrastructure burn to the ground, because we simply can’t get to these fires quick enough.

‘When we do, we simply don’t have the resources to deal with them adequately.’

Labour accused the Tories of putting ‘the smoke alarm on snooze’ as wildfires break out across the country, with ‘woeful’ resilience planning to the extreme heat.

And Riccardo la Torre, national officer of the Fire Brigades Union, accused the Government and fire chiefs of pressing ahead with cutting jobs.

He said firefighters were making ‘phenomenal’ efforts to deal with the outbreak of summer fires, claiming that fire services were unprepared for the crisis.

Climate change is making heatwaves more intense, frequent and likely – with July’s record temperatures of more than 40C for the first time for the UK made at least 10 times more likely because of global warming, and ‘virtually impossible’ without it, research shows.

Scientists also say droughts are becoming more likely due to human-driven climate change, warning of the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions and take steps to prepare the UK for the impacts of rising temperatures.

Mike Childs, head of research at Friends of the Earth, said the climate crisis was ‘hitting home’ this summer.

‘As another health-threatening heatwave hits the UK, rivers and reservoirs run dry and drought threatens our food and water supplies, a deepening cost of living crisis is set to leave millions more people unable to afford their energy bills,’ he said.

He said it was ‘utterly baffling’ the candidates were not grabbing green solutions, as he called for investment in the UK’s renewable potential and kicking starting an insulation programme to keep homes warm in winter and cool in summer.

Jonathan Smith, assistant commissioner at London Fire Brigade, has said ‘we’re not out of the woods as far as this heatwave is concerned’, as he urged people to avoid using disposable barbecues and take care when extinguishing cigarettes.

Mr Smith added: ‘We’re urging the public to think about and modify their behaviour over the course of the next four days in particular to take that pressure off the emergency services… we’re not out of the woods as far as this heatwave is concerned.’

Meanwhile, Met Office boss Paul Davies said the increasing heatwave temperatures may now occur once every five years – and annually by the end of the century.

He told The Mirror: ‘When I started out as a ­forecaster, if someone had said in your lifetime you’ll see 40 degrees, I’d have said; ‘No, surely not!’.

‘We are in uncharted waters. We’re entering areas we’ve never experienced before and it’s not just the UK, it’s the planet as a whole.’

An Oxfordshire village has also become the first in Britain to run dry, with residents forced to rely on deliveries of bottled and tanker water.

Northend, on the Buckinghamshire border, usually gets its water from the now dried-up Stokenchurch Reservoir.

Thames Water had to send water tankers and bottles to its residents, struggling after high demand on the natural resource in recent hot weeks.

The company has also recently announced it will be issuing a hosepipe ban for 15million customers across London, Surrey and Gloucestershire in the coming weeks.

A Thames Water spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘We’re sorry to customers in the Stokenchurch area who are experiencing lower pressure than normal due to technical issues with our Stokenchurch reservoir.

‘We have a team on site working hard to resolve this as soon as possible and the situation is improving and supplies have been restored to customers.

‘We’re using tankers to help boost supplies to customers in Northend to keep up water pressures for these customers so they do not see supply issues as well as delivering water bottles.

‘Customers may experience lower than normal pressure during periods of higher demand.

‘These times are typically in the morning and during the early evening.

‘We’ve also identified everyone in the affected area who has pre-registered with us as having special requirements, such as being medically reliant on water, so we can get in touch and make sure we give them the help and support they need.

‘We realise how inconvenient this is, especially during such hot weather, and appreciate customers’ patience as we work to resolve things’

Last night Andrew Sells, head of Natural England between 2014 and 2019, accused water companies of selling off reservoirs which could have helped ease drought to housing developers.

‘Several of our water companies preferred to build houses on some of their reservoirs, and last week we learned that together they have built precisely zero new reservoirs in the past 30 years’, he wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

‘No doubt some reservoirs had reached the end of their working lives, but in abandoning this infrastructure, without any replacements, they have again put short-term profits ahead of long-term supply.’

The Met Office also predicted the extreme heat will become more commonplace in the coming years as global warming continues.

Professor Hannah Cloke, Professor of Hydrology at the University of Reading, said: ‘The warnings for extreme heat from both the Met Office and the heat health alert issued by the UK Health Security Agency are another reminder that this summer in the UK is proving to be lethally hot.

‘Compared to the July record-breaking heat, this event will be less intense but last longer, which could actually have a greater impact on people’s health.

‘This heatwave might not break any records for maximum temperatures, but it might actually cause more deaths.’

Climate change is making heatwaves more intense, frequent and likely, with last month’s record temperatures made at least 10 times more likely because of global warming and ‘virtually impossible’ without it, research shows.

Scientists also warn the likelihood of droughts occurring is becoming higher due to climate change, driven by greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels and other human activities.

Government minister Paul Scully said it is ‘always sensible’ for people to conserve water, when asked about the possibility of a hosepipe ban for London.

He added: ‘But we’ll look carefully because the whole point about London and the South East is that the more development you have and the less rainfall there is, then obviously there’s less to go around and we’ve got to be careful.’

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Jak shared his experience of his £59 ghost flight online. He thought something was wrong when he got to the gate early to find no one else going through the ... Read more »

Video: Love Is Blind season three trailer teases several proposals, a contestant suggesting a fiancee SWAP and one bride leaving her groom at the altar

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Thiago Silva agree on Rafael Leao amid Chelsea transfer links

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 05: Rafael Leao of AC Milan looks on during the UEFA Champions League group E match between Chelsea FC and AC Milan at Stamford Bridge on ... Read more »

Beano comic strip changes colour for World Mental Health Day

The comic giant said it will be giving away 20,000 free Beano comics for households to encourage children to read more. Read more »

Dystopian future? Billboards in SPACE could beam advertisements to Earth - but it would require a 'constellation' of 50 small satellites and cost $65M

A study determined that it would take a constellation of 50 small satellites and cost $65 million to beam advertisements to Earth from spaceThe satellites would have large reflectors that could bounce sunlight to Earth and rearrange themselves into different shapes to form logos or graphics'Development of such missions has become a point of interest for a few space startups because the approach provides global Earth coverage,' the study says  Read more »

China's 'espionage plot' at a US weapons and nuclear lab: Damning report says Beijing infiltrated New Mexico facility for DECADES by recruiting top scientists to report back information - and now Republicans demand an investigation

Los Alamos National Laboratory is among the United States' top nuclear labsA recent report found that at least 162 scientists who had worked there have since gone to work for the Chinese government between 1987 and 2021 At least one of those scientists had a top secret security clearance, report saysNearly a dozen House Republicans signed onto a letter asking Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm to look into itFlorida Rep. Michael Waltz warned that it could be a national security threat Read more »

Video: Daycare worker terrifies toddlers as she puts on creepy Halloween mask and SCREAMS at crying children who were 'bad' while avoiding kids who were good

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I don't know the woman who allegedly paid to have an abortion, Herschel Walker claims: Senate candidate denies paying off mother of one of his children to get an abortion - but insists it would be 'nothing to be ashamed of'

Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker said he would admit if he paid for an former partner to get an abortion Claims it's 'nothing to be ashamed of' – despite consistently sharing his anti-abortion stance with no exceptions Report this week cites an anonymous woman who claims she received a $700 check and 'get well' card from Walker for her to abort their child 'I hate to say I've been born again,' Walker said. 'And I've been moving forward' Read more »

James Dyson sues Channel 4 for libel over news report

Photograph: Pierre Suu/Getty Images The billionaire businessman James Dyson is attempting to sue Channel 4 over a news report about claims of abuse and exploitation in the Malaysia factory of ... Read more »

Video: Olivia Culpo breaks down in tears when discussing a toxic ex in The Culpos first trailer: 'He did really, really horrible, horrible things'

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Chelsea suffer major blow just before Wolves visit Stamford Bridge

Wesley Fofana was injured during Chelsea’s Champions League group stage victory over AC Milan at Stamford Bridge Chelsea have suffered a significant injury blow on the eve of their Premier ... Read more »

Video shows theatre-goers cheer as police kick 'disruptive' woman out of West End show

A West End performance of Grease was delayed for around 20 minutes mid-show as a woman ‘refused to leave when she was kicked out’. The hit-show at the Dominion Theatre ... Read more »
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