UK weather: Lightning, hail and four inches of rain batter staycationers on ...

UK weather: Lightning, hail and four inches of rain batter staycationers on ...
UK weather: Lightning, hail and four inches of rain batter staycationers on ...

Lightning, hail and four inches of rain have battered staycationers on the south coast overnight after the Met Office issued a rare warning urging campers to avoid tents and caravans amid gusts of wind up to 55mph.  

About 400,000 tourists headed to airports this weekend and up to 2.3million drivers are set to hit the roads as the school holidays kick off - but thunderstorms are set to cast a shadow over the great British summer getaway. 

Torrential rain and large hail stones are set to cause flooding, travel disruption and could even leave some areas 'cut off' this weekend as a month and a half's worth of rain falls in just a few hours. 

A thunderstorm warning is in place until 10pm on Saturday, with the possibility of heavy rain that could cause disruption and flooding. This will affect Britons heading to some of the 7,297 campsites across the UK, including 5,978 which accept caravans.  

The British Holiday and Home Parks Association estimated 90 per cent of sites are now fully booked for the next week, although many are opening between only 60 and 80 per cent of their pitches to maintain social distancing.

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Visit Britain said 16.4million UK adults plan to take an overnight domestic trip this summer - and of this figure, 33 per cent are planning on camping or caravanning, equating to 5.4million people. 

Forecasters said some places could see gusts of up to 55mph particularly along exposed coasts and near and over hills – with those at campsites and vehicles towing caravans among the people warned to be on alert.  

The warning said delays for high-sided vehicles on exposed routes and bridges were 'likely' and there would also be 'some tricky driving conditions for those towing caravans, and possible delays to ferry transport'.

The Met Office added that 'some coastal routes, sea fronts and coastal communities may be affected by spray and/or large waves' and 'some damage may be caused to temporary summer structures'. 

And the Met Office is predicting as much as 4in (100mm) of rain in parts of southern England, the Midlands and Wales during Saturday and Sunday. In comparison, the UK average rainfall for all of August is 2.8in (69mm). 

Some 40,000 people are attending Latitude festival this weekend in Suffolk, which is part of the Government's events research programme - but music lovers will be hoping they can avoid a muddy mosh pit while anyone with camping in mind may want to pack wisely. 

London airports including Gatwick and Stansted were busy in the departures area on Friday with many families jetting off on summer holidays despite Covid restrictions which may force them to self-isolate upon their return. 

Families were keen to escape the 'pingdemic' chaos in the UK which saw 2.3million people, including children sent home from school, told to isolate last week and 1.3million self-isolation alerts sent out over the seven-day period.

Almost 400,000 Britons are expected to head abroad on holiday this weekend in a mass getaway, with a study by flight data firm Cirium showing 352 of the 2,100 flights due to depart this weekend are heading to Greece. 

Among the families at Gatwick today were the Atrills from Coventry travelling to St Lucia, where it is currently 86F (30C) and sunny, and the Pitcher family from Eastleigh going to Skiathos where it is 84F (29C). Luton Airport said it was expecting 13,000 passengers today - 'slightly down' on last year and around a quarter of pre-pandemic levels.

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Gatwick Airport said that between Friday and Sunday, it expects around 255 flights a day and 26,000 passengers each day. This compares to around 950 flights at the time of year before the pandemic – about four times more. Spain is its most popular foreign destination with about 65 flights a day, and around 30 to Greece each day. 

Heathrow Airport is expecting around 60,000 to 65,000 passengers on each of Saturday and Sunday this weekend, which is about 25 per cent of the pre-pandemic daily volumes of around 245,000 in July 2019. 

Manchester Airport said it has 958 planes travelling between Friday and Sunday, compared to 632 in the equivalent period last year and 2,512 in 2019. The figure at London Stansted is 1,330 this weekend, compared to 735 in 2020 and 2,139 in 2019. At East Midlands it is 224 this weekend, compared to 177 in 2020 and 503 in 2019. 

Most tourist destinations are currently on England's 'amber list', which requires ten days in quarantine upon your return unless you have had both jabs, or the 'red list' where the same period must be spent at an approved hotel.  

It comes as England's unprecedented extreme heat warning ends - after six days in a row of the mercury getting above 88F (31C) in the UK.  

Armagh in Northern Ireland hit 88.5F (31.4C) on Thursday, making it the hottest place in Britain - and similar highs are expected there today, as well as in North Wales and North West England. The UK's hottest day of 2021 so far was Tuesday when London was 90F (32.2C). 

It comes as a record number of people in England and Wales were 'pinged' as contacts by the app and told to self-isolate for up to 10 days, with 618,903 alerts sent to users of the coronavirus app in the week to July 14. 

Lightning pictured in Guernsey on Friday evening in a picture shared to social media. A thunderstorm warning is in place until 10pm on Saturday, with the possibility of heavy rain that could cause disruption and flooding

Lightning pictured in Guernsey on Friday evening in a picture shared to social media. A thunderstorm warning is in place until 10pm on Saturday, with the possibility of heavy rain that could cause disruption and flooding

A bright fork of lightning seen over Mount's Bay in Cornwall. It comes as England's unprecedented extreme heat warning ends - after six days in a row of the mercury getting above 88F (31C) in the UK

A bright fork of lightning seen over Mount's Bay in Cornwall. It comes as England's unprecedented extreme heat warning ends - after six days in a row of the mercury getting above 88F (31C) in the UK

Thousands of revellers descended onto Broad Street in Birmingham on the first Friday night out following Freedom Day

Thousands of revellers descended onto Broad Street in Birmingham on the first Friday night out following Freedom Day

Bumper to bumper getaway traffic queueing for miles on the M25 in Kent towards the Dartford crossing this afternoon

Bumper to bumper getaway traffic queueing for miles on the M25 in Kent towards the Dartford crossing this afternoon

Lightning pictured over Dorset early on Saturday morning. Forecasters said some places could see gusts of up to 55mph particularly along exposed coasts and near and over hills

Lightning pictured over Dorset early on Saturday morning. Forecasters said some places could see gusts of up to 55mph particularly along exposed coasts and near and over hills

Campsites and car parks filling up Henham Park in Suffolk this morning where the Latitude music festival is being held

Campsites and car parks filling up Henham Park in Suffolk this morning where the Latitude music festival is being held

Festival goers today at Latitude music festival which is taking place this weekend at Henham Park in Southwold, Suffolk

Festival goers today at Latitude music festival which is taking place this weekend at Henham Park in Southwold, Suffolk

Tens of thousands of people are camping at Latitude Festival at Henham Park in Suffolk today

Tens of thousands of people are camping at Latitude Festival at Henham Park in Suffolk today 

Heavy traffic on the M6 motorway near Corley services in Warwickshire this morning as people go on a summer getaway

Heavy traffic on the M6 motorway near Corley services in Warwickshire this morning as people go on a summer getaway

People walk around the Latitude festival site at Henham Park in Suffolk today as the 40,000-crowd event gets underway

People walk around the Latitude festival site at Henham Park in Suffolk today as the 40,000-crowd event gets underway

The Ryanair check-in desks are busy at London Stansted Airport this morning as people fly away on a summer holiday

The Ryanair check-in desks are busy at London Stansted Airport this morning as people fly away on a summer holiday

Traffic on the M5 near junction 20 in Somerset today as people head on their summer holidays

Traffic on the M5 near junction 20 in Somerset today as people head on their summer holidays

Large queues develop at London Stansted Airport today as holidaymakers go through security checks this morning

Large queues develop at London Stansted Airport today as holidaymakers go through security checks this morning

Traffic on the M5 motorway heading south near Bristol this morning as people head away for the holidays

Traffic on the M5 motorway heading south near Bristol this morning as people head away for the holidays

Heavy getaway traffic on the M25 in Kent near Swanley today as the heatwave weather continues in the UK

Heavy getaway traffic on the M25 in Kent near Swanley today as the heatwave weather continues in the UK

The UK recorded 84 deaths and 39,906 cases of Covid-19 yesterday, meaning cases are falling for the first time in two months, although infections among those in their 20s have soared to a record high. 

Environment Secretary George Eustice said today that self-isolation is still a key part of the fight against Covid-19 after 10,000 critical workers in the food sector were told they would not need to quarantine if pinged.

Pressure is mounting on the Government to bring forward the date at which people who are double jabbed can avoid self-isolation, currently August 16, amid emergency measures to protect food supplies.

The move - along with a relaxation of self-isolation rules for other critical sectors - will see 10,000 workers avoid the need to self-isolate if identified as a contact of a coronavirus case, and instead take daily tests.

Fears over food supply chains have led supermarkets to urge customers not to panic buy as a range of items including meat, cheese, water and wine have gone missing from some stores which have empty shelves. 

Meanwhile the RAC said call-outs to breakdown services will 'rocket', pointing to data from transport analytics experts Inrix, which predicts a 29 per cent increase in delays today compared with typical July travel times. 

Motorists travel along the M25 in Kent near Swanley today as families go on a summer getaway as they hit the roads

Motorists travel along the M25 in Kent near Swanley today as families go on a summer getaway as they hit the roads

Traffic on the M5 near junction 20 in Somerset today as Britons go on staycation holidays

Traffic on the M5 near junction 20 in Somerset today as Britons go on staycation holidays

People check-in for easyJet flights at London Gatwick today at the start of the big summer getaway as schools break up

People check-in for easyJet flights at London Gatwick today at the start of the big summer getaway as schools break up

Families wait in a queue at London Gatwick Airport today as they check-in for flights and go on summer holidays

Families wait in a queue at London Gatwick Airport today as they check-in for flights and go on summer holidays

A busy check-in area at London Gatwick Airport this morning at the start of the big summer getaway as schools break up

A busy check-in area at London Gatwick Airport this morning at the start of the big summer getaway as schools break up

Looking ahead to this weekend, the Met Office's rain warning covering the whole of Saturday and Sunday said flooding of homes and business could happen as heavy rain falls on ground baked hard by days of warm sunshine.

How temperatures in Britain have now hit 88F (31C) for six days in a row
Yesterday: 88.5F (31.4C) at Armagh, Northern Ireland Wednesday, July 21: 88.3F (31.3C) at Castlederg, NI Tuesday, July 20: 90F (32.2C) at London Heathrow  Monday, July 19: 88.5F (31.4C) at London Heathrow  Sunday, July 18: 88.9F (31.6C) at London Heathrow  Saturday, July 17: 88.2F (31.2C) at Ballywatticock, NI

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The warning extends across most of England and Wales, except north-west England and north Wales, Cumbria, North East England and northern parts of Yorkshire.

The Met Office said: 'There is a small chance that some communities will become cut off by flooded roads.' Forecasters also warned of 'power cuts and loss of other services to some homes and businesses'.

Meanwhile, spray and standing water could lead to 'difficult driving and some road closures', while bus and train services could be hit by 'delays and cancellations'.

The Met Office said today is likely to be mostly fine, dry and warm. It said: 'Low cloud is due to clear to leave another very warm or hot day with sunny spells. Isolated thundery showers may develop in the west before rain arrives into the southwest later.' 

Speaking about the extreme heat warning that was in place in England, Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said: 'It's an amber warning so it's quite an extreme one, and it's for extreme heat. So whilst temperatures aren't plummeting tomorrow, they are still going to be on the high side, it's less likely to cause significant impacts like we've seen over the past couple of days.'

The heat warning remains in place in Northern Ireland, and speaking last night, Mr Burkill said: 'Temperatures there could be even higher than today. So for a few days we've had their highest ever temperature. 

'It was beaten yesterday, it was beaten again today, and it could well be beaten again tomorrow. So I think it could be four days within a week where they've recorded their highest ever temperature.' 

Festivalgoers watch Declan McKenna perform at Latitude Festival at Henham Park in Wangford, Suffolk, on July 23

Festivalgoers watch Declan McKenna perform at Latitude Festival at Henham Park in Wangford, Suffolk, on July 23

Festivalgoers pictured enjoying Day 2 at Latitude Festival in Henham Park, Suffolk, today ahead of the stormy weather

Festivalgoers pictured enjoying Day 2 at Latitude Festival in Henham Park, Suffolk, today ahead of the stormy weather

Mabel performs at the Obelisk Arena at Latitude Festival in Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk, on July 23

Mabel performs at the Obelisk Arena at Latitude Festival in Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk, on July 23

A festivalgoer walks through coloured ribbons during Latitude Festival at Henham Park in Southwold, Sussex, today

A festivalgoer walks through coloured ribbons during Latitude Festival at Henham Park in Southwold, Sussex, today

Festivalgoers pose for the camera at Day 2 of the Latitude Festival in Southwold, Sussex, this afternoon

Festivalgoers pose for the camera at Day 2 of the Latitude Festival in Southwold, Sussex, this afternoon

Crowds of festivalgoers can be seen during Day 2 of Latitude Festival in Southwold, Sussex, this afternoon

Crowds of festivalgoers can be seen during Day 2 of Latitude Festival in Southwold, Sussex, this afternoon

Northern Ireland yesterday broke its all-time highest temperature for the third time in six days, with 88.5F (31.4C) in Armagh beating the 88.3F (31.3C) at Castlederg on Wednesday and 88.2F (31.2C) at Ballywatticock on Saturday.

On your marks for the big staycation getaway

The RAC predicts today will be one of the busiest on the roads this year, with an estimated 2.3 million leisure trips being made by drivers as the 'staycation getaway' begins.

'Journey times are likely to be severely affected,' it warns. As a result, call-outs to breakdown services are likely to 'rocket'.

The RAC points to data from transport analytics experts INRIX, which predicts a 29 per cent increase in delays today compared with typical July travel times.

About 11.5 million people will be on the move this weekend, according to the RAC/INRIX study. The motoring organisation urged drivers to check over their cars to ensure they are 'road ready'.

RAC Breakdown spokesman Simon Williams says: 'We have all the elements of a perfect storm on the UK's roads this summer, with millions of drivers having already planned their staycation trips, plus the very real prospect of huge numbers more booking last minute if their foreign travel plans end in tatters because of Covid travel restrictions.' 

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Before then, a high of 87.4F (30.8C) had stood for decades after being reached on both July 12, 1983 and June 30, 1976.  

But in a grim outlook for the weekend, forecasters added: 'Heavy showers and thunderstorms developing across southern parts over the weekend, then edging further north by Monday.'  

In its outlook for the first week of the school holidays, an 'unsettled start' is predicted by the Met Office, 'with most places seeing showers developing by day on Tuesday, these possibly thundery at times'.

Its long-range forecast said: 'Conditions remain changeable mid-week with outbreaks of rain moving in from the west, further thundery showers in between any drier interludes and strong winds for the time of year.

'From the end of next week until early August, we will likely see changeable conditions with a mix of sunny spells and heavy showers, perhaps with some more prolonged rain at times.' 

There is unlikely to be any immediate return to heatwave conditions, with temperatures only reaching the low to mid 20s Celsius (70Fs) over the weekend and through next week. 

But the Met Office said it could become 'warm' again into August. Yesterday, the warmest place in England was 87.9F (31.1C) at Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, not quite breaking the country's record for 2021.

But yesterday was the hottest day of the year so far in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The highest temperature in Scotland was 84.7F (29.3C) at Threave, Kirkcudbrightshire; 88.1F (31.2C) at Gogerddam in Dyfedd, Wales, and 88.5F (31.4C) at Armagh, Northern Ireland.

The conditions have been marred with at least 21 deaths involving people cooling off in seas, lakes, rivers and reservoirs. 

Warnings about the dangers of open water have been issued by charities this week as temperatures soared. Yesterday, a 16-year-old boy has become the latest person to die after swimming in open water. 

People queue at London Stansted Airport today as holidaymakers go through security checks this morning

People queue at London Stansted Airport today as holidaymakers go through security checks this morning

People wait to go through check-in for their flights at London Stansted Airport this morning as they go on holiday

People wait to go through check-in for their flights at London Stansted Airport this morning as they go on holiday

People check-in for their Ryanair flights at London Stansted Airport this morning as they go away on holiday

People check-in for their Ryanair flights at London Stansted Airport this morning as they go away on holiday

A Cheshire Police spokesman said the teenager was reported missing at about 2.30pm yesterday after swimming in the River Dee in Chester and, after extensive searches, a body was found shortly before 8pm.

'Unsettled' start to school holidays next week but 'warm' outlook for August

In its outlook for the first week of the school holidays, an 'unsettled start' is predicted by the Met Office, 'with most places seeing showers developing by day on Tuesday, these possibly thundery at times'.

Its long-range forecast said: 'Conditions remain changeable mid-week with outbreaks of rain moving in from the west, further thundery showers in between any drier interludes and strong winds for the time of year.

'From the end of next week until early August, we will likely see changeable conditions with a mix of sunny spells and heavy showers, perhaps with some more prolonged rain at times.' 

There is unlikely to be any immediate return to heatwave conditions, with temperatures only reaching the low to mid 20s Celsius (70Fs) over the weekend and through next week. 

But the Met Office said it could become 'warm' again into August.

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Superintendent Myra Ball said: 'Sadly, this is the second river death that we have seen this week in the county. This appears to be another tragic accident and our thoughts are with the boy's family at this very difficult time.'

The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) said it was aware of 17 incidents of accidental loss of life in the water between July 17 and 20.

Lee Heard, RLSS UK's charity director, said: 'Whilst we recognise how tempting it is to cool off in the UK's beautiful waterways, they hide hazards that tragically take lives each year and we urge the public to use caution when entering the water, getting acclimatised to the water temperature before jumping in.

'The difference between the air temperature and water temperature can literally take your breath away; this is called cold water shock. It is silent, invisible and deadly.

'Water can also hide debris, strong currents and sudden changes in depth that can catch out even the strongest swimmers.

'The Royal Life Saving Society UK urge everyone to learn vital skills and knowledge to prevent future accidental drownings.'

Fran Wilkins, senior coastal operations officer for HM Coastguard, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'We've seen such an increase in incidents overall.

'And then unfortunately in line we've that we've had a sustained period of regular incidents that have resulted in deaths at the coastline, which is obviously tragic for everyone involved in those in terms of the families and also the responders that go out to try and help these people.

'And we just want to try and get the message out as the hot weather looks set to continue hopefully for the summer and people are on their holidays and we're anticipating a busy year with the number of people staying to holiday in Britain, and really just wanting to get that message out there and hopefully stop this happening to anyone else.' 

Families flock to Bournemouth beach in Dorset yesterday as southern England experiences very hot temperatures

Families flock to Bournemouth beach in Dorset yesterday as southern England experiences very hot temperatures 

She added: 'I think ultimately we need people to understand that the beach and the coastline, whilst they are beautiful places and great places to enjoy, they have a lot of dangers and risks amongst them.

Cornwall council says tourists should bring Covid tests with them on holiday and test negative BEFORE setting off

Tourism bosses are warning holidaymakers to get tested for Covid before heading to Cornwall because hospitals are filling up and cases are rising in resorts.

The region's council is also asking people to buy and pack Covid testing kits before travelling so they can regularly use them while there.

The latest statistics show Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have 383 cases per 100,000 people, below the England figure of 525.

But cases in the county are at their highest yet, with over 2,000 cases recorded between July 10 and July 16 - up from the previous record of 1,997.

Visit Cornwall's chief executive is asking visitors to see this holiday season as a 'summer of understanding', while the council is asking visitors to 'respect local communities in holiday hotspots.'

Cornwall Council added that as tourist hotspots get busier, they are 'asking everyone to try and keep a distance between people and wear a face covering if a business asks you to as they are protecting their staff as well as you.'

Rachel Wigglesworth, director of public health for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: 'We're glad that so many people want to come and spend time in our beautiful county, but we ask that you are respectful and help us to keep the virus under control.

'Please enjoy your holiday and make wonderful memories here because it's a special place - but remember that our local communities will have to live with the consequences if case numbers increase.

'Businesses might still have reduced numbers inside a venue or ask you to wear a face- covering in small, enclosed spaces. And we ask that you also wear a face-covering using our public transport.'

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'And if you're not familiar with the area, and even if you are to some extent, those dangers can quickly get you in a situation that's very difficult for you to recover from, meaning that you may need help.'

Ms Wilkins added that examples of what to do to mitigate risks include 'simple things' such as checking tide times before you commit to walking the coastline.

She continued: 'Make sure when you're down on the beach with your children that you keep an eye on them and even when they're playing in what is shallow water to start with, that can get deep very quickly.

'Things like rip currents can form and sweep people out to sea and really put them beyond their means of swimming and being able to get ashore.

'So it's just that understanding of what it is you're looking at when you're down at the beach. It's not just a big swimming pool. 

'There's lots and lots of risks within there that really need a good thinking about.'

Heavy thunderstorms broke out yesterday afternoon. One, at Ashford Hall, Derbyshire, led to 33.8mm (1.3ins) of rain falling in just an hour. 

About 11.5 million people will be on the move this weekend, according to the RAC/INRIX study. The motoring organisation urged drivers to check over their cars to ensure they are 'road ready'.

RAC Breakdown spokesman Simon Williams said: 'We have all the elements of a perfect storm on the UK's roads this summer, with millions of drivers having already planned their staycation trips, plus the very real prospect of huge numbers more booking last minute if their foreign travel plans end in tatters because of Covid travel restrictions.'

In Scotland, the heat caused problems on the transport network.

Network Rail warned trains would have to slow down to avoid damaging overheating railway tracks, and passengers were told to take drinking water with them while travelling.

A swing bridge which serves both road and canal traffic was closed to boats as its steel rapidly expanded in the heat.

Scottish Canals has said that the closure affected the Tomnahurich Bridge in Inverness, where temperatures on the roadside hit 93F (34C).

The problem was compounded by 'snagging issues' at the new bridge it was supposed to work alongside, the city's Torvean Bridge, which remains shut.

A Scottish Canals spokesman said: 'Temperatures have reached approximately 34 degrees at road level on the deck of Tomnahurich Bridge this afternoon and the bridge has consequently expanded to the degree that we can no longer be certain of closing it if it is opened.

Empty freezers at a Tesco store in Skegness, Lincolnshire, amid concerns over food supply chains due to the 'pingdemic'

Empty freezers at a Tesco store in Skegness, Lincolnshire, amid concerns over food supply chains due to the 'pingdemic'

A MailOnline reader sent in this photograph of the empty milk aisle of his local Sainsbury's in Richmond, South West London

A MailOnline reader sent in this photograph of the empty milk aisle of his local Sainsbury's in Richmond, South West London

'To protect the traffic flow on the A82, especially with the new Torvean Bridge being unavailable to road traffic, Tomnahurich Bridge is currently closed to boat traffic.'

Coastguards issue tips on how to stay safe on beach

Coastguards have issued a warning over the hot conditions which have been marred with at least 18 deaths involving people cooling off in seas, lakes, rivers and reservoirs.  

Fran Wilkins, senior coastal operations officer for HM Coastguard, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'We've seen such an increase in incidents overall.

'And then unfortunately in line we've that we've had a sustained period of regular incidents that have resulted in deaths at the coastline, which is obviously tragic for everyone involved in those in terms of the families and also the responders that go out to try and help these people. 

'And we just want to try and get the message out as the hot weather looks set to continue hopefully for the summer and people are on their holidays and we're anticipating a busy year with the number of people staying to holiday in Britain, and really just wanting to get that message out there and hopefully stop this happening to anyone else.'

She added: 'I think ultimately we need people to understand that the beach and the coastline, whilst they are beautiful places and great places to enjoy, they have a lot of dangers and risks amongst them. 

'And if you're not familiar with the area, and even if you are to some extent, those dangers can quickly get you in a situation that's very difficult for you to recover from, meaning that you may need help.'

Ms Wilkins added that examples of what to do to mitigate risks include 'simple things' such as checking tide times before you commit to walking the coastline.

She continued: 'Make sure when you're down on the beach with your children that you keep an eye on them and even when they're playing in what is shallow water to start with, that can get deep very quickly.

'Things like rip currents can form and sweep people out to sea and really put them beyond their means of swimming and being able to get ashore. 

'So it's just that understanding of what it is you're looking at when you're down at the beach. It's not just a big swimming pool. There's lots and lots of risks within there that really need a good thinking about.'

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Experts say roads do not start to melt until 122F (50C).

However, a spokesman for the Road Surface Treatments Association said that a sunny day in the mid-20s can generate 50C on the ground as dark asphalt absorbs a lot of heat, which usually builds up between noon and 5pm. Bitumen in some roads may

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