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Daily History

August 10 2003 Temperatures in UK top 100 F for first time during European heat wave

On August 10th 2003, the United Kingdom recorded its first-ever temperature over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Throughout the month, an intense heat wave scorched the European continent, claiming more than 35,000 lives.

August 2003 was the hottest August ever recorded in the northern hemisphere and broke all previous records for heat-related deaths. France was the worst hit, with almost 15,000 victims, followed by Germany, where approximately 7,000 people died. Thousands also died in Spain and Italy. A majority of the victims were elderly, very young, or chronically ill.

When a person experiences extreme heat, their bodies can struggle to cool themselves—which can prove especially dangerous in the very old, very young or already ill. If a person’s internal body temperature reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit, the organs can began to fail and the person can eventually die. The Washington, D.C.-based Earth Policy Institute estimates that more people die every year from heat than floods, tornadoes and hurricanes combined.

In addition to directly causing deaths, the extreme heat also caused massive fires. In Portugal, 10 percent of the country’s forests were destroyed and 18 people were killed in the fires. The heat also caused glacial melt, flash floods and avalanches in Switzerland.

Scientists project that, because of global warming, the earth’s average temperature will continue to rise, reaching 42.44 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, a gain of 2.5 degrees. Because of this, the World Meteorological Organisation predicts that the number of annual heat-related deaths might double by 2023. Most researchers agree that the only way to stop the slow rise in global temperatures is to reduce levels of the carbon-dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming.

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About Craig Hill

Social Justice Campaigner, Writer, Teacher and Business Consultant. Lived in China and USA. Dealing with disability. My articles have been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and many other international publications. Please consider donating, to support our social justice campaign, by clicking on the "Donations Page" button in the top menu.


5 thoughts on “August 10 2003 Temperatures in UK top 100 F for first time during European heat wave

  1. Can’t remember this … live on Ireland at that time .. and it probably rained all the time *smile – didn’t even know UK could get that warm – thank you so much.

    Posted by viveka | August 10, 2012, 00:28
  2. I remember this well. That was some summer and probably the final and best out of a sequence of warmer and sunnier summers in the UK.

    Such a change from the washouts of the last 6 years.

    Posted by Stephen Liddell | August 10, 2012, 02:10
  3. Good post, wish I could remember that day. 😉

    Posted by charliecountryboy | August 10, 2012, 05:29
  4. However, this August, by direct comparison, we have not had much that could be registered as being a summer temperature. Tomatoes, planted in April still have not ripened, it was too cold for them to grow. The thermostat on our heating cut in countless times this summer because the evening house temperature dropped below 12 degrees. We have not had the very high temperatures you talk about above in years, and if we do they are usually two day affairs. This year’s top temp so far is about 80 and that was for only three days.
    The UK climate is impossible to predict.

    Posted by Pat | August 10, 2012, 18:20

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