Thunderstorms to bring risk of flooding and travel disruption

A large swathe of the UK is braced for the risk of flooding and travel disruption this weekend after forecasters warned of the arrival of thunderstorms.

The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for heavy showers and thunderstorms across parts of England, Wales and Northern Ireland on Saturday.

The warning, which runs from midday until 10pm, covers large expanses of each nation, with the exception of some coastal areas, London and other parts of the south east.

Forecasters said many places will miss the worst of conditions, but warned of the potential for some transport disruption and possible flooding.

Woman under umbrella
Choppy seas off Southsea, Hampshire, on Saturday (Andrew Matthews/PA)

This could include spray, standing water and hail affecting driving conditions, delays to train services, the short term loss of power, potential damage from lightning strikes and possible flooding of a few homes and businesses.

National Highways advised drivers to plan ahead and take care on the roads, with fire services across the country also encouraging caution.

Met Office forecaster Greg Dewhurst said up to 40mm (1.6in) of rain is expected to hit the areas within its warning on Saturday.

“On Saturday we will see a band of heavy rain push north-eastwards across the UK, followed by sunshine and heavy showers,” he said.

“Sunday will see the heavy rain clearing to bright and sunny spells and heavy showers in the east.”

The wet start to the weekend comes after areas including London have already seen a month’s worth of average rainfall for August with 12 days still to go.

Mr Dewhurst said City of London has had 117% of its usual August rainfall already, with 60mm (2.4in) of rain falling on the capital up to August 19, compared with 51mm (2in) usually seen over the entire month.

Northern Ireland has had 91mm (3.6in) of rain – 93% of its 97mm (3.8in) average for the month.

Meanwhile, other areas have been exceptionally dry, including North Yorkshire which has had less than 50% of its usual rainfall.

People use umbrellas on boats
People shelter under umbrellas during a punt tour along the River Cam in Cambridge (Joe Giddens/PA)

Mr Dewhurst said overall UK temperatures and rainfall for the time of year are “about average”.

On Saturday, the mercury is set to rise to around 21C (69.8F) in London, 20C (68F) in Cardiff, and 18C (64.4F) in Edinburgh and Belfast.

Localised heavy rain and hail has already caused “significant problems” for harvests, according to the National Farmers’ Union (NFU).

A spokesperson for the union said this year’s harvest was delayed due to cold spring temperatures, but it is too early to say how much profits will be impacted and whether consumers could see a rise in food prices.