Ferocious thunderstorms battered Britain overnight as more than two months’ worth of rain was forecast to fall in a matter of hours – after the nation sweltered in baking temperatures close to 100F (38C) amid an ongoing heatwave.
Flash floods struck Aberystwyth, Wales following an influx of rain at around 3pm on Monday, leaving roads underwater and parts of the market town’s drainage system overflowing.
Areas of Gwynedd also saw flooding before dramatic thunderstorms and torrential downpours struck much of the west coast of Britain overnight – while the nation experienced a ‘tropical night’ with temperatures largely remaining above 68F (20C).
Historically these sweltering evenings were so rare that only eight were recorded between 1961 to 1995, but the country has now seen 16 tropical nights this summer, with more to come, the Telegraph reports.
Despite the warmer temperatures, two inches of rain battered parts of northwest Wales per hour as ‘severe’ thunderstorms gathered pace near the Snowdonia National Park on Monday evening.
Storms also struck in Cumbria, with those in Whitehaven and Workington capturing striking images of lightning illuminating the sky before midnight.
And in Wirral, Britons described lightning so frequent ‘it looks like fireworks coming through the blinds.’
The storm travelled up the west coast to Liverpool and Lancaster early on Tuesday, with locals reporting fast strikes of lightning without any thunder or rain.
Meteorologists have issued a broad yellow weather warning covering much the UK from yesterday to Thursday for severe thunderstorms, which they said ‘could be significant and disruptive’ until 3am on Tuesday.
Rainfall totals were expected to be as high as six inches in ‘three or four hours’, with some areas seeing as much as two and a half inches in one hour alone.
Further thunderstorms are expected for the rest of this week until at least Thursday, with the Met Office admitting there is ‘significant uncertainty in location and timing’ as it covered the whole country in a four-day warning.
Despite the downpours, Britain’s ten-day heatwave shows no signs of relenting and will continue until at least Friday, with the country enduring an extraordinary period of scorching weather.
Maximums of up to 99F (37C) are now expected every day until Thursday, before temperatures are expected to dip on Friday to 82F (27C).
A high of 91F (33C) was recorded at East Malling in Kent at 1pm on Monday, and Tuesday will likely see heat of 93F (34C).
The evenings will provide little relief, as tropical nights, when temperatures stay above 68F (20C), are forecast to continue this week as this year seems to be on track for a record number.
There has now been an unbroken chain of at least 10 tropical nights per summer in the years from 2011 to 2020, after the events became statistically significant after 1995.
Britain has already seen temperatures rise above the official heatwave level of over 82F (28C) since last Wednesday – with a level three heat health alert issued.
It follows the deaths of at least three people in waters around Britain since the weekend, including:
Meanwhile a coastguard rescue team have been searching in Blackpool for a 17-year-old girl who is feared to have gone missing after going into the water at the Lancashire resort in the early hours.
Meteorologists now expect Britain to have the second longest run of consecutive 90F (32C) days on record. While the period is unlikely to get close to the 15 days in 1976, it is expected to beat the second-placed five days in 1995.
The record for the longest spell of 95F (35C) is three days – set in 1976 and 1990 – which this week could match. And the UK has only had heat of 98F (36.7C) on four days in history, one of which was recorded only 11 days ago.
Thermometers got up to at least 93F (34C) in parts of South East England on both days of the weekend just gone, following the joint ninth hottest day in UK history last Friday when 97.5F (36.4C) was recorded in West London.
As the most prolonged period of hot August weather for 17 years continues, the forecast comes as:
The heat is still on but the Met Office – which issued a broad yellow weather warning covering much the UK from Monday to Thursday – says where there are thunderstorms ‘they could be significant and disruptive’.
Sunday was ‘another hot day’ in southern England, where temperatures reached 93.2F (34C) at Herstmonceux, East Sussex, and 92.8F (33.8C) at both London Heathrow Airport and Gosport in Hampshire, the Met Office said.
Met Office forecaster Bonnie Diamond told how the thunderstorms over the next few days ‘could pop up pretty much anywhere, due to the combination of exceptionally high temperatures and unstable air’.
She added: ‘Torrential rain could lead to flash flooding, with the additional hazards of lightning and large hail.’
She continued: ‘There is a pretty broad warning in place today, but there is another for central UK – the Midlands up to the North West of England to about Cumbria, and into Wales – which we are watching really closely.
‘We are looking at the potential for some thunderstorms there from about 4pm to the early hours. It’s a worst-case scenario – a caution, really, for what could happen – but we are looking at a potential for 150mm (6in) rain in three or four hours.
‘Normally for August you’re looking at around 70mm (2.8in) for the month, so it’s potentially a lot of rain. To get that much it will take some areas seeing frequent thunderstorms, and not just passing through.’
Caroline Douglass, flood duty manager with the Environment Agency, said heavy thunderstorms this week ‘could lead to surface water and river flooding in some communities’ from Monday afternoon into Tuesday morning.
She said: ‘Isolated flooding is also possible more widely across England today through until Thursday due to further heavy thunderstorms.’
The Environment Agency warned that flooding could happen suddenly by day or night, and there may also be travel disruption in some areas this week.
On Sunday, a mother drowned in front of her son and his friend after leaping into the sea to save them when they got into difficulty in a kayak at Waxham in Norfolk.
The woman, who was in her 30s and has been named locally as Danni, was pulled from the water after being caught out by the strong current. Horrified onlookers tried in vain to resuscitate her before paramedics took over, but she was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.
The tragedy happened at about 5.30pm on Sunday, while the beach was packed with sun-lovers on one of the hottest days of the year. The beach and nearby Sea Palling are notorious for having dangerous riptides which can sweep away unsuspecting swimmers.
Witnesses have suggested that the woman jumped into the water to help her son and his friend after they got into difficulty.
Meanwhile a 12-year-old girl who died after getting into difficulty in a river in Scotland has been praised as a ‘dancing angel’ and an ‘amazing’ child.
The body of Ava Gray was pulled from the River Leven in the West Dunbartonshire village of Balloch following a three-hour search.
Police Scotland officers were called to the scene at the foot of Loch Lomond at about 6.45pm on Sunday, but the search ended with Ava’s body being recovered from the water at 9.45pm.
Dance teacher Holly Douglas paid tribute to Ava on Facebook, saying: ‘My dancing angel, I am heartbroken.
‘Words can’t describe the way I feel, Ava. We all love you so, so much. You will never be forgotten at Full Out.
‘You will always be part of our team and our family. The world is a cruel place, thinking of all the family right now. Ava, I love you so, so much.’
Meanwhile a search was conducted on Monday in Blackpool for a 17-year-old girl who is feared to have gone missing after going into the sea in the early hours of yesterday.
A coastguard rescue team was called out to the beach and she was not found despite extensive searches of the area. Some blood was found on the North Pier but police have yet to determine if it’s related to the teenager’s disappearance.
Officers are now appealing for witnesses who may have seen the girl around 4.20am on Sunday or later. The girl is described as having long, dark hair and was wearing dark jeans, a dark grey top and possibly dark trainers.
Separately, on Saturday, a woman died after a crash between a jet ski and a boat on the Menai Strait in North Wales.
As Britain continued to swelter over the weekend, authorities across the country struggled to keep people away from overcrowded beaches.
Road closures were put in place in Dorset in a last-ditch attempt to divert visitors from Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door, with a family who had travelled more than six hours from Birmingham among those turned away.
The latest satellite and radar loop shows that #thunderstorms have started to develop across the southwest of the UK
We are likely to see further thunderstorms across the UK as the day goes on with a yellow warning⚠️in force for much of the UK pic.twitter.com/901m20kj4M
Western areas are most likely to see the #thunderstorms as we head through today, but a few thunderstorms may break out further east.
We may see some large hail and torrential rain in places so stay #weatheraware throughout today pic.twitter.com/ZHgEp8P9RR
Thanet District Council said Ramsgate Main Sands beach in Kent was ‘extremely busy’ on Sunday, with high tide likely to make social distancing difficult.
In Southend, Essex, a child was taken to hospital with suspected hypothermia after being spotted clinging to a dingy 300 yards out to sea.
On Saturday, HM Coastguard dealt with 340 incidents across the whole of the UK – the highest number of call-outs in a single day for more than four years.
The Coastguard co-ordinated search and rescue responses to a wide range of incidents, including people being cut off by the tide and children swept out to sea on inflatables.
In total, the service rescued 146 people and assisted a further 371. There were a further 335 incidents on Sunday.
South East Water urged its customers to put away their hose pipes, garden sprinklers and garden water toys as it said that a spike in demand had left some people with low pressure or no water.
It said it has been pumping an additional 150 million litres of water around its network, the equivalent of 27 million additional toilet flushes, to keep up with demand over the summer.
They put the increase in water use down to more people being at home and taking up DIY and gardening projects during the rise in staycations.
The Met Office said the heatwave is the most prolonged period of hot August weather for 17 years.