Thunderstorms and flash flooding lead to a major incident being declared

Thunderstorms could hit parts of the UK for a second day after flash flooding saw a major incident being declared in Somerset.

Heavy thunderstorms on Tuesday evening resulted in the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service declaring a major incident in the Galhampton, North Cadbury, and South Cadbury areas.

A Met Office yellow warning for thunderstorms is also in place on Wednesday, meaning parts of the UK could be hit by heavy rain, thunderstorms and hail.

Travel could be disrupted by deluges – with driving conditions and rail services affected – while buildings may be damaged by lightning strikes, the forecaster said.

Heavy showers and thunderstorms are expected to develop through Wednesday afternoon – across central and eastern areas of Scotland, parts of central, eastern and southeastern England and southern areas of Northern Ireland – before the weather eases during the evening.

Some 25-30 millimetres of rain are predicted to fall within two to three hours in areas where heavy rain develops.

The Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said it deployed several resources to the area to deal with the flooding, which was resolved by the early hours of Wednesday.

By the afternoon, Travel Somerset said its teams were helping out with the clear-up operation and assessing road damage after “an unprecedented flash flood event … with around 88mm of rain falling in just two hours”.

It sent teams to the Milverton region and further north after Tuesday’s “significant flooding to the highway”.

Flooding of the A359 at Queen Camel made it impassable.

Travel Somerset, which said its specialists will need to wait until Thursday for water levels to drop to make further assessments, tweeted: “Our engineers have been assessing the situation and the bridge and road will need to remain closed overnight pending further investigations.”

The Environment Agency told motorists not to try to drive through flood water, saying “enough water to fill an egg cup can ruin your engine, leaving you stranded in water and in need of rescue from emergency services”.

It follows an onslaught of rain, thunder and hail across parts of England on Tuesday.

Basingstoke was battered by hailstorms – with one resident describing his worry over the storm damaging his car – while Somerset experienced a “different scale” of rain.

George Dibley, who lives in Basingstoke and works in public affairs, told the PA news agency: “It was crazy to see and hear. It sounded like someone was knocking on our window.”

Spring weather May 9th 2023
One resident said the hail sounded like somebody knocking on a window (George Dibley/PA)

The 24-year-old added: “We got worried at one point that if the hail got any bigger it might damage our car but thankfully it only lasted a few minutes.”

Meanwhile, a stream flooded a garden in Somerset after heavy rain.

Valeria Coots, from Bathealton, posted videos on Twitter and told PA: “The stream breaks its banks quite regularly after prolonged heavy rain, usually a couple of times per year.

“Today has been on a different scale, though, really unbelievable. The stream rose about a foot above the level of the garden and whole parts either side were completely submerged.

Also in Somerset, Eleanor Wicks told PA she had to find a way around a flooded footbridge in Bruton.

The 16-year-old from Frome said: “It was very shocking because it had been raining for about three solid hours and we had to try to find a way around it, through a flooded footbridge.

“Our car was on the other side so we had to go all the way around, over a flooded footpath bridge and through another bit of flood to get to the car.”

According to the Met Office, there will be some sunshine on Thursday, with rain, hail and thunder breaking out before the weather is “widely settled” from Friday through to Sunday.