After rivalling temperatures in the Sahara last week, parts of Britain are now drier than the African desert.
Swathes of the South and East of England have had less than 1mm of rain so far this month, according to Met Office data.
By contrast, figures provided by The Weather Company, a leading forecasting business owned by IBM, show that Laghouat, an Algerian town on the northern edge of the Sahara, has had 5mm of rain this month.
Photographs taken from space for Nasa in July last year, which was called by the Met Office the fifth warmest July on record, show a green and pleasant UK, unaffected by the sort of conditions experienced just last week. Pictured: July 17 2021
As the images show, this July the area from Hull to the Isle of Wight, taking in London and the South-East, was bleached by the scorching heatwave until the ground was as yellow as the Sahara Desert. Ironically, it is reported that one Saharan town experienced five times as much rainfall as the UK. Pictured: July 19 2022
A man walks through a dry bank of a tributary to the Dowry Reservoir near Oldham. Some parts of the South and East of England have had less than 1mm of rain all month
A view of low water levels at Roadford Lake in Devon as temperatures reached 40C for the first time on record in the UK
Wayoh Reservoir in Entwistle, Bolton pictured on Tuesday which is currently well below capacity. The reservoir supplies around 50% of the drinking water to nearby Bolton, but water levels have receded so much that it now appears bone dry in parts
Low water levels in Stithians Reservoir near Falmouth, Cornwall pictured on Wednesday which uncovered a prehistoric collection of cup-marked stones
With predictions that July may be the driest in the UK for 256 years, some eastern areas are on the verge of being classified as desert.
England has experienced a lack of green grass since the heatwave. In London, pictures of Wimbledon Common, Hyde Park and Green Park show parched, yellow grass after a lack of rain.
One Londoner who visited Hackney Marshes tweeted: ‘Well, that was a somewhat warm cycle home. As I crossed the Hackney Marshes I thought I was back in Australia. Never seen the grass so yellow.’
Computer forecasts suggest only 1mm of rain will fall in the east of the country during the rest of July, and between 2mm to 8mm in most other parts.
It means this month could beat the 8mm record for the driest July measured across England and Wales set in 1825. The Met Office’s records date back to 1766.
WENNINGTON: Burned out cars are among the wreckage left by a fierce wildfire in Wennington, Essex, sparked by record-breaking temperatures on Tuesday
Parched dry grass in Hyde Park is pictured earlier this month as the heatwave in the UK continues to record extreme temperatures
In this aerial view the bed of the Woodhead reservoir can be seen as Summer water levels become reduced on Thursday in Glossop, England. Recent high demand for drinking water, record temperatures and reduced rainfall has seen some reservoirs in England at only 62% capacity.
The dry banks of Woodhead Reservoir in West Yorkshire. Some parts of the country are so dry they are on the verge of being considered deserts
A view of the dried bed of Llwyn-on Reservoir during a heatwave in Wales, on Wednesday which saw the new record in the country become 37.1C after it was recorded in Hawarden in Flintshire
Londoners enjoy the warm weather as they walk through grass the colour of straw on a parched Wimbledon Common in south-west London earlier this month
DAGENHAM: Pictures show the scale of destruction caused by a grassland fire on Tuesday that tore through a residential area of Dagenham
DAGENHAM: At least 14 homes and 25 vehicles are believed to have been destroyed in a Tuesday blaze in Dagenham, east London
BARNSLEY: A row of homes destroyed by fire on Tuesday in Woodland Drive, Barnsley stand as empty shells following a devastating wildfire
Parched dry grass in Green Park is pictured earlier this month as the heatwave also sees London recorded as hotter than the Western Sahara and the Caribbean last Monday
London was recorded as hotter than the Western Sahara and the Caribbean last Monday. East Anglia is on track for under 500mm of rain over the 12 months since August last year, meaning it would be classified as a semi-arid desert.
London Fire Brigade says it tackled more than 800 grass and open-land fires since the start of June up until July 12.
And ‘exceptional’ fire risks are forecast today in Essex, with ‘very high’ risks in the South-East, East Anglia and parts of the Midlands.
The Met Office says Britain faces drought, with parts of the South and East already in ‘absolute drought,’ defined as 15 days with no rain. The Environment Agency says one in three rivers are ‘exceptionally low’ and some reservoirs half-empty. There is a growing likelihood of hosepipe bans, and harvests are also expected to be hit.
Brian Gaze, a forecaster with The Weather Outlook, said: ‘It’s remarkable that parts of Britain have had less rain than the Sahara during July. The ground is bone dry, and very little rainfall is forecast into the first weeks of August.’
SHEFFIELD: In this aerial view Firefighters contain a wildfire that encroached on nearby homes in the Shiregreen area on Wednesday
Low water levels are seen at Scammonden Reservoir on Monday in West Yorkshire as reservoir levels dip dangerously low amid record high temperatures in the UK.
SHEFFIELD: Multiple fires have continued to break out across the UK during the week as Britain battles wildfires
Fire crews fight grass and field fires near Chesterfield in Derbyshire on July 19 as temperatures hit record levels across Britain. A large number of fires broke out amid the dry and hot conditions
A grass fire in Newgale, Pembrokeshire, as firefighters work to keep it under control in 40 degree heat
A view of the dried bed of Llwyn-on Reservoir pictured during a heatwave in Wales which saw the country record its highest ever temperature
WENNINGTON: Burnout building are seen in the village after wildfires caused by a heatwave destroyed homes in the village on Tuesday
BRANCASTER STAITHE: Four homes in Norfolk are seen without roofs after devastating fires in the village on Tuesday
Met Office chief executive Penny Endersby said: ‘Our attention is turning to drought and when we might see any rain – and we’re not seeing any significant rain coming up.’
Averaged across England and Wales, just 5mm of rain has fallen so far this month, Met Office figures show, and more warm weather is expected as the summer holiday season begins.
While lower than last week’s heatwave, which spiked at 40.3 degrees Celsius in Coningsby, Lincolnshire, the UK will see highs of 28C in the coming days. Meteorologists say there is a good chance of more very hot spells in August.
Meanwhile the water firms Southern Water and Dwr Cymru have warned of hosepipe bans within weeks and Kelly Hewson-Fisher, from the National Farmers’ Union, pleaded with the public to take care not to accidentally start fires.
‘The risk of fire is still extremely high,’ she said. ‘A dropped match or smouldering barbecue is all that is needed to start a serious blaze.’