Record UK Heat Wave Causes Runway Damage At London Luton Airport


Record heat is impacting air travel in the U.K., along with other travel infrastructure. On Monday, London Luton Airport, 30 miles north of the nation’s capital, was closed for several hours when 95-degree Fahrenheit (35 degrees Centigrade) temperatures caused a “surface defect” and a section of runway separated. The U.K.’s Meteorological (Met) Office identified conditions as “exceptional, perhaps record-breaking, temperatures.”

According to the Met Office, though July is typically the warmest month for the Midlands region, temperatures average normally around 23.5 degrees C (74 degrees F). London’s East Midlands Railway warned travelers to refrain from traveling on Tuesday (July 19) due to extreme temperatures, predicted on Monday to exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees C), in the area.

London Heathrow Airport recorded the highest temperatures in history on July 19 at greater than 104 degrees Fahrenheit, or 40.5 degrees C. The previous record, set in 2019, was cooler by 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. I recall as a kid in Kentucky in the mid-60s such days, when the kickstands of our bikes would sink in to the hot asphalt. The tar on the sides of telephone poles would melt and slowly run down the sides. Somehow we survived it all. Weather has always fluctuated. Here are other records from London: “The lowest daily maximum temperature is −8.3 °C (17.1 °F) occurring on 3 occasions: 8 January 1841, 4 January 1867 and 12 January 1987.” Where is the trend here? Two maximum temperature records in the mid-1800s and another in 1987.

  2. Whereas I’m sorry for Europe having to endure these high temps, I don’t like them either, here in the US many parts of the country those are just usual summer time temps. Lived with them all my life, the early part being without air conditioning. We also went outside and played in them. I don’t actually consider temps at or near 100F an emergency. In fact we are forecast to see them for the next 10 days, again. Again, sympathetic for you Europe, but no big deal. Do check you density altitudes performance charts before taking off though.

  3. We all know it was some broken old asphalt… they need to push global warming.
    Their prince was making a fool of himself at the UN calling America’s capitalism the cause for global warming… not summer…

  4. Temp last week between Denver and LAX was ISA+14C at FL320. I’ve seen as high as ISA+17C recently in the mid levels. This is a fair bit higher than what my historical recollection is for this time of year.

  5. I note that the USA still uses degrees Fahrenheit in some cases, although I believe not in airline ops. In the early ’80s the B737-236 Advanced Performance Data Calculator could select either mode as required. In the UK use Celsius.Before the US moved from F to C I recall ferrying a 737 from Boeing Field to the UK via Goose Bay YYR where the December temp was reported as +11F. My F/O was on his first ferry flight so thought that +11F sounded OK. In fact the Celsius equivalent was -12C, not quite so comfortable, which is why I had a warm coat for the turnaround. My later Boeings, the 757/767 & 747-400 were all in C. However the long conflict between pounds and kilos for fuel and weight calculations is another matter for another time. Yours aye, Mac

  6. Back in the early 70’s I was in the RAAF and based north of Perth. The flight line had to continue to function until 117F. There were days refueling, servicing and turning jets around and it was only 115F. That’s when you were hoping it would get just a couple of degrees HOTTER so the base would stand down!

  7. It’s hard to evaluate the seriousness of these climate trends. IMO, the world is warming. This is especially true at higher latitudes. There is the possibility of adverse feedback loops, where runaway warming occurs. For example, If the permafrost melts, that would release large amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas that is much more heat trapping than CO2. If the polar ice melts, much land area becomes under water. The stakes are large, if these scenarios happen. Do we have an upper limit to how these temperatures can climb? I don’t know. The problem is what do we do about it. There are huge problems in shedding fossil fuels quickly. There is no replacement near term. Nuclear power is one thing that does lower CO2 output, but even that takes decades for getting new capacity. Fusion power is a sort of holy grail of energy, but it seems decades away from any practical use, and not yet even proven possible. Sorry to be a bit off topic – not strictly an aviation related response. One thing that bothers me is that attitudes tend to be highly partisan, where everyone goes to their team’s corner. In this case, conservatives claim a hoax, conspiracies, etc. I will probably be accused of being a climate alarmist. But I am a conservative myself on most other issues. I wish we could be Ala Carte on issues, without being tied to a partisan package of issues. That gets us entangled with personalities, gotcha journalism, hot button stuff, rather than any reasoned separation of issues on their own merits. Once separated from partisanship, be objective about those issues.

    • The problem is that leftists (i.e., most Democrats) use every excuse under the sun (pardon the pun) to control (and tax) everyone else. In this case, they want to use climate (hot OR cold) to control and tax. Also, with respect to windmills and solar, they are ignorant at minimum and many are lying. Those are a scam. With them, we come out behind, not ahead. Watch “Planet of the Humans” in which a tree-hugger discovers that it’s all a big scam/lie.

      I believe most conservatives are perfectly happy (speaking for myself, at least) to attempt to take good care of the earth and use “good” sources of energy. In fact, I believe conservatives want to have serious conversations about many things. The only thing leftists want is control.

      So yeah, it’s partisan.

      • I don’t think ‘leftists’ want to control or overtax. Your statements are overly broad and incorrect. John D.‘s comments are spot on. Many issues like guns, abortion, climate are very nuanced and complex issues. Having an all or nothing attitude doesn’t get us anywhere. Most politicians on both sides know this but their goal is to remain in power and not solve anything. As long as they keep us outraged and yelling at each other, and with the help of crap media companies who’ve forgotten the true meaning of honest journalism, they know we’ll be too distracted to see that they’re getting nothing done. Both sides agree that America is being flushed down the toilet: we each have one hand pointed at the other and one hand on the flusher. Sad.