Thunderstorms to strike UK on hottest day of the year so far

·4-min read

Heavy showers and thunderstorms are set to batter parts of the UK on the hottest day of the year so far.

The Met Office has issued new amber thunderstorm warnings for parts of south-eastern England between 4pm and 7pm on Tuesday.

Forecasters warn of water spray, sudden flooding and lightning strikes, which could lead to power cuts, damage to buildings and delays to public transport.

(PA Graphics)

It comes as the UK recorded its hottest day of the year so far, after the temperature reached 32.2C (89.96F) at Heathrow Airport in west London on Tuesday afternoon.

The previous high for the year was 31.6C, which was also recorded at Heathrow on Sunday.

An amber extreme heat warning is also set to last until Friday, with the mercury expected to climb as high as 33C in parts of the country.

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The thunderstorms could echo the flooding witnessed last week in London and the South East, which affected several Underground stations.

As of 6pm on Tuesday, as much as 60mm of rain had fallen in just a few hours in areas affected by the amber thunderstorm warning, the Met Office said.

It also said that water has been visible on roads, affecting some vehicles, and that as much as two inches of hail had fell.

Joseph Petrassi, 22, filmed heavy rain and hail buffeting his garden in Basildon, Essex.

“(They’re) very scary conditions… first time I’ve known bad hailstorms like this in my area,” Mr Petrassi, a guitarist and production assistant, told PA.

“Luckily no damage at all apart from some unfortunate plants.”

Dan Stroud, a Met Office forecaster, told the PA news agency: “We have issued some new amber thunderstorm warnings for parts of south-east London, down to parts of Essex and Kent.

“There is also one in place for areas surrounding Cambridgeshire.

“We’re seeing some fairly heavy showers developing during the afternoon along with reports of lightning and hail.

“There will be some intense spells of heavy rainfall as the afternoon develops and some slow-moving downpours, some places will see it, others won’t at all.

“There may be some localised flooding issues as a fair amount of rain will fall – meaning possible delays to public transport, power cuts and potentially surface flooding.”

Summer weather July 2021
Thunderstorms and rain have hit parts of south-eastern England (Hannah Carre/PA)

Mr Stroud said the recent spell of hot weather has drawn in moist air to eastern parts of the country, which is causing the downpours.

He said as much as 40mm-60mm of rain could fall in one hour, with some areas seeing a “substantial” amount.

Commuters may be the worst affected by the downpours, with South Western Railway reporting a track circuit failure at London Waterloo.

The Environment Agency has issued 16 flood alerts for Tuesday – meaning flooding is possible – in parts of London, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

Summer weather July 20th 2021
The country is basking in sweltering temperatures (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Mr Stroud added: “If you get heavy rain you’ll certainly know about it, but the rest of the country is continuing to bask in dry skies and warm temperatures.

“We’re seeing the warmest temperatures in south-western areas and parts of Wales.”

The Met Office has issued an amber extreme heat warning for parts of Wales, all of south-west England and parts of southern and central England over the next few days.

Public Health England has extended its heat-health warning, which warns people to take measures to stay cool and look out for vulnerable people, until Friday.

Heatwaves are becoming more frequent and extreme because of climate change driven by human activity, with scientific analysis finding events such as 2019’s record heat in the UK and Europe and the devastating heatwave in Canada and the US in recent weeks were made much more likely and more severe by global warming.

The world has already warmed by about 1.2C since pre-industrial times and temperatures will continue to rise, causing greater climate impacts, without urgent and significant global action to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

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