Hot weather forecast: Gritters sent on UK roads as heatwave to MELT tarmac in 39C scorcher

The vehicles, a more common sight in winter, will be called on to keep traffic moving, motoring experts say. Drivers are warned to take extra care on the roads with surfaces likely to soften and bubble during extreme heat. RAC Breakdown spokesman Rod Dennis said: “The sweltering heat is going to inevitably lead to some softer road surfaces over the next few days.

“If you see some blacker patches of road or pavement, that’s how you can tell it’s starting to melt.

 “It also means that drivers might start to see something that they’d normally only associate with the depths of winter – gritting trucks.

“Salt can help improve the grip on roads that are starting melt.”

Dave Rigby, chief technical officer at the RSTA (Road Surface Treatments Association), said: “Durning very hot weather roads could reach 50C at the surface and at these temperatures can start to soften.

“Dark asphalt on the road surfaces absorbs a lot of heat and is like chocolate, it melts when it is hot and goes brittle when it cools down.

“I would not be surprised to see gritters out over the next couple of days, they are used to spread dust and sand which absorbs the soft bitumen stabilising the road surface and making it less sticky.”

Thermometers are expected to reach unprecedented levels tomorrow (Thursday) with the mercury set to hit a sweltering 38C (100.4F).

Government officials have issued health warnings with heatwave conditions forecast until the end of the week.

Britain will turn even hotter than first thought with temperatures expected to touch a record-breaking 38C (100.4F) on Thursday, the Met Office said.

Meteorologist Matthew Box said it is more likely both the 36.7C (98.06F) July record and the all-time maximum of 38.5C (101.3F) will fall before the end of the week.

He said: “We now think there is an 80-per cent chance that the July record will be broken on Thursday with a 40-per cent chance the all-time record will fall.

“Models indicate a lot of warm air coming up from the Continent especially across eastern parts of the country.

“While the expected temperatures have gone up there is also a greater likelihood of seeing the heat become more widespread than originally thought.

“High pressure is over the Continent and this allowing energy from the sun to heat the region, this air is then going to come up and into the UK.

“There is a chance that it will turn slightly fresher as we go into the weekend, however eastern Britain could remain very warm.”

Heavy rain and thundery outbreaks are possible by the weekend as blistering heat eventually goes bang, he warned.

He said:“On Friday we could see some reasonable amounts of sunshine in the east, but there will be some heavy thundery downpours overnight into Saturday.

“Saturday will be a fairly showery day with some thundery downpours possible.”

Searing air from the Continent will continue to sweep into the UK pushing the mercury more than 10C above average for the time of year.

Hannah Findley, a meteorologist with The Weather Company, said temperatures will return to normal by the weekend.

Extreme heat is about to go bang in parts of the country with thunderstorms predicted in the north before the end of the week, she warned.

She said: “We are expecting showers and thundershowers in the north-west on Thursday passing eastward over the rest of the UK overnight.

“This will leave mostly dry, much less warm weather on Friday and it will be showery on Saturday. 

“Temperatures will be up to 8C above average and around 10 degrees above in the south-east on Thursday before returning to near normal on Friday and Saturday

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