BRITAIN is set to boil on the hottest day in history as a ‘blowtorch’ scorches the nation with temperatures of up to 39C.
Forecasters predict summer could be saved by a plume of hot air from the continent, making the UK hotter than the Sahara in the next few days.
Brian Gaze, a forecaster at The Weather Outlook, said: "This heatwave is like a blowtorch that will scorch across much of the country.
"It's going to be a glorious weekend."
Friday's blistering heat could beat the previous hottest day on record which saw Brits roast in 38.7C in Cambridge on 25 July last year.
The heatwave is here to stay for the weekend and will remain into Monday and Tuesday next week.
Much of the country will bask in brilliant sunshine but the best weather will be in the South and South East, where temperatures could rise as high as 39C.
Met Office forecaster Grahame Madge told The Sun: "Last July the UK recorded its hottest ever temperature of 38.7C in Cambridge and we cannot rule out that temperatures may rise above that.
"This sudden spike in temperature will see Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and Essex get the best of the weather but temperatures will be in the mid-to-high 30s across the country.
"Temperatures will be approaching record-breaking levels on Friday and it is likely to catch a lot of people out, so if people are making plans for the weekend they must remember to pack their sun cream."
The gigantic plume of warm air is 700 miles wide and originated in the Atlantic Ocean and warmed up over continental France and Spain before making its way here.
It is ramping up Britain's average summer temperatures for a welcome August heatwave.
The hot air has already reached mainland Europe where Spanish hotspots like Seville are sweltering in 40C.
Forecasters say the blistering temperatures mean the UK will be hotter than Barbados, Alexandria, Egypt and parts of central Africa including Sudan.
Grahame added: "Friday will be the hottest day and the heatwave will last all weekend into Monday and Tuesday next week.
"The humidity will be low so it will be very dry and uncomfortable for some people and we are also predicting temperatures overnight will not drop below 20 at the lowest.
"These temperatures may create challenges for some people with health conditions."
The sunshine will last into the middle of next week when thunderstorms and rain is expected to drench much of the country.
Bookmakers Coral cut odds to 1/2 odds-on on breaking the 38.7C UK record set on July 25, 2019, in Cambridge. Records began in 1841.
Coral spokesman John Hill said: “The odds say we'll be frazzled by record highs.” Warm weather began to take its toll in the country's courtrooms today after Judge Joanna Korner ruled it was "too hot for wigs" at London's Southwark Crown Court.
Devon and Cornwall’s Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez said the region is braced for an exceptionally busy weekend.
PCC Hernandez said: "Roads, beauty spots and town centres are likely to be exceptionally busy this weekend and we are asking visitors to allow for extra time for their journeys, pack extra suncream and be cautious with their alcohol consumption.
HOTTER THAN THE SAHARA
“I particularly want residents and visitors to take extra care around the coast.“It’s great that tourists can return to Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, and the vast majority are well behaved and welcomed by communities that rely on them for their livelihoods.
“I am pleased to be able to offer practical support to those communities that this year have the added complication of Covid-19 regulations.
“With its stunning beaches, vibrant cities and towns and rolling moors the Westcountry has much to offer."
Yesterday Public Health England issued a heat warning for very high temperatures in the East, London, Southeast England and the Southwest.
Ishani Kar-Purkayastha, at Public Health England, said: “Many of us welcome warmer weather, but some people may find it more difficult to cope.
"People recovering from COVID-19 at home, those who are self-isolating, older people and people with underlying health conditions are all more vulnerable during hot weather.
“This summer, many of us are spending more time at home due to COVID-19.
GUNNED DOWNKids' author shot in 'assassination attempt' by biker who died fleeing cops
FURNACE FRIDAYUK set for record breaking hottest day EVER tomorrow with 38C scorcher
ROY-ILL MAILCoronavirus outbreak at Royal Mail delivery office as '19 workers hit by bug'
LUCKY DRAWLotto lout Mikey Carroll has found love & says wild hellraising days are over
URGENT DROP-OFF Woman horrified to find Amazon delivery driver taking a poo in her garden
DEATH 'FLAWS'Thousands of Covid deaths set to be wiped off official records after review
"A lot of homes can overheat, so it’s important we continue to check on older people and those with underlying health conditions, particularly if they’re living alone and may be socially isolated.
“If you need to provide care to someone at risk from hot weather, follow government guidance on how to do this safely.
"The most important advice is to ensure they stay hydrated, keep cool and know how to keep their homes cool.”