Bookies prepare for Britain's hottest day

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Shade your eyes. Shorten your sleeves. Stay out of the midday sun. Today may be Britain's hottest day.

Shade your eyes. Shorten your sleeves. Stay out of the midday sun. Today may be Britain's hottest day.

A new record temperature for the UK may be set by the intense heatwave that has already baked half of Europe, forecasters said, as yesterday became the hottest day so far of this sweltering summer.

In Jersey, the thermometer touched 34.6C (94F), beating the previous 2003 high of 33.6C, which had been recorded on 15 July at Wisley in Surrey.

That super-hot air over the Channel Islands will be over southern England tomorrow, pushed up by the southerly winds that have brought the heatwave to us from the Continent, where it has turned parts of Spain and Portugal into disaster areas, by sparking forest fires.

To break the record, the mercury will need to pass the 37.1C, which was registered in Cheltenham on 3 August 1990. Forecasters said yesterday that was definitely possible. "We could see the record go tomorrow. It's going to be a very, very close thing," Paul Knightley, a forecaster with the PA WeatherCentre, said.

Official forecasters weren't the only ones predicting a record. The bookmakers Ladbrokes slashed the odds on a 100F temperature from 5-1 to 2-1 after a surge of bets from the public. "This is the biggest gamble on the weather we have seen," said Warren Lush, a Ladbrokes spokesman. "Punters are convinced that temperatures will hit 100F and aim to burn the bookies."

In particular, there had been "a flood of money" laid out in Cheltenham, the site of the previous record, Mr Lush said. The bookmakers William Hill said they it been inundated with similar bets, and had had to close its book after the odds dropped to 6-4.

Yesterday's hottest weather on mainland Britain was 33C at Gatwick airport. The Isle of Anglesey in North Wales recorded its highest temperature, with 32.9C.

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