Man dies after vehicle submerged in flood water in Walsall

Alexandra Heal and Frances Perraudin
Traffic on the M42 encounters standing water after heavy rain on Sunday. Photograph: David Davies/PA

A man in his 80s has died after his vehicle was submerged during flash flooding on a day of extreme and varied weather across the UK.

Police were called to Rushall in Walsall just after 2am on Monday to reports that a vehicle had entered the water. The victim was taken to hospital but pronounced dead a short time later.

Officers urged bank holiday travellers to take care across the West Midlands, with parts of Birmingham facing flash flooding after more than a month’s rainfall fell in an hour. But other areas of England were looking forward to the hottest day of the year so far.

Storms across the Midlands on Sunday left a stretch of the M5 submerged and other roads closed. Vehicles were left swamped by flood water up to 1.5 metres (5ft) deep.

The Met Office said 58.6mm of rain fell in 60 minutes in Edgbaston, and 81mm came down in a 12-hour period. It issued a yellow weather warning for the region, meaning there could be “danger to life”.

The monthly average for the West Midlands in May is 55mm, said Craig Snell, a meteorologist at the Met Office. But he said the torrential rain had been “very localised”.

Heavy downpours could continue for some areas on Monday, with a yellow weather warning for rain in place as thunderstorms roll south through Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire.

A yellow weather warning for rain is also in place from Monday afternoon for large parts of East Anglia, the south-east, including London, the south-west and Wales.

The Met Office has serious flood warnings in place for Coleshill in Warwickshire, Penkridge in Staffordshire, and Acton Bridge and Somerford in Cheshire. Forty-three less serious flood alerts remain in place for a swath of central England.

Meanwhile, temperatures of up to 29C (84F) are expected in the south-east, potentially surpassing the record for this year of 29.1C on 19 April in central London.

Snell said: “It all depends how much cloud develops. “There’s a chance we could see the warmest day of the year. It will be quite widely into the 20s across many parts of the UK. For a bank holiday Monday, it’s not looking too bad.

“Further thundery downpours might appear in the late afternoon – not everyone will see them, but if you do see one, they could be quite nasty.

Scotland would have the most prolonged sunshine, he said, but most areas would start dry and cloud cover would quickly burn off.

On Sunday, Highways England was forced to close part of the M5 between Halesowen and Oldbury, and parts of the M42 and M6 were subject to lane and exit closures.

West Midlands police advised people to avoid driving in Birmingham. “Please try to avoid the following areas due to floods and road closures. Pershore Road at Oakfield Road, Selly Oak – reports of water 5ft deep. Road being closed and bus passengers being evacuated,” the force said.

Some rail services operated by CrossCountry were disrupted when severe weather caused signalling problems near Birmingham New Street.

Birmingham University had to close its main sport and fitness centre due to flooding, and several houses were reportedly deluged.

Images on social media showed people wading through water to push stranded cars, and there were reports of wheelie bins floating down roads.