A hospital in Gloucester had to be evacuated after it was hit by flash flooding as thunderstorms are expected to batter large parts of the UK today before the heatwave finally eases tomorrow.
Part of the hospital’s ceiling was damaged after the region was hit with a torrential downpour and firefighters were forced to pump water out of the sodden A&E. Nobody was injured, and after three hours the hospital was again fully functional.
Brits are today braced for yet more blistering sunshine, with maximum temperatures of 90F (32C) in southern England. Yesterday the country experienced the longest stretch of temperatures above 93F (34C) since 1961 after St James Park in London recorded 93.3F (34.6C).
However the heatwave is finally set to ease tomorrow, with temperatures of 78F (26C) forecast for the south of England – it needs to be 28C (82F) for a heatwave – and stormy weather is on the way after flash floods blitzed Scotland yesterday.
Yellow thunderstorm warnings have been issued for much of England, Wales, parts of Northern Ireland and southwest Scotland, with the potential for lightning, heavy rainfall and hail today.
Forecaster Greg Dewhurst said: ‘It’s not often we get temperatures this high over several days, and that is triggering thunderstorms across parts of England and Wales.’
The yellow thunderstorm warning for Wales and most of England – excluding the north east – is in place all day on Thursday, when sunny spells could see maximum temperatures of up to 32C (90F) in the south east.
Water firms are advising customers in certain areas to restrict their water usage amid sweltering conditions.
Thames Water said that ongoing power supply issues in Guildford meant it was using tankers to bring water into the area, as it urged customers to use water for essential purposes only in the coming days.
Essex and Suffolk Water said that due to ‘record water demand’ it was working to maintain supplies but users could notice lower than normal pressure.
The Met Office upgraded its thunderstorm warning to amber for much of Wales, the West Midlands and parts of the North West on after severe storms caused disruption in some areas
A soaked cyclist braves the roads during torrential rain and hail by Twickenham Green. London, on Wednesday evening
Lightning lit up the skies over South Wales on Wednesday evening after the Met Office issued an amber thunderstom warning
The lightning which struck many parts of the country on Wednesday evening after another hot day brightened up a dark evening
Sharp lightning bolts appeared over these houses in North Wales as the weather turned on Wednesday evening
Britain’s heatwave longest since the 1960s
Britain has experienced the longest stretch of temperatures above 93F since the 1960s.
Sweltering tropical heat continued to grip parts of Britain on Wednesday with top temperatures reaching 93.3F (34.6C) at St James’s Park in London.
It meant that temperatures above 34C (93F) were recorded for the sixth day in a row in parts of southern England, for the first time since at least 1961.
Brits have also been battling against tropical temperatures at night, with many people taking to social media or racing to the shops to buy fans.
It was also the fourth time on record with 35C for three days; and it was also the first time on record with 34C for six days
And it was more than 35C yesterday for the fifth time this year (31st Jul, 7th Aug, 10th Aug, 11th Aug, 12th Aug) that ties with 1976.
Gloucestershire Fire & Rescue Service said it was experiencing ‘high call volumes’ due to bad weather and had been made aware of flash flooding in Gloucester.
‘Whilst the bad weather continues, please be careful and only travel if absolutely necessary and with extreme caution,’ it tweeted.
Elsewhere, Cheshire Police said on Twitter they were dealing with a number of weather-related incidents in the village of Tarporley, including fallen trees and flash flooding, and advised nearby residents to avoid all but essential travel.
Three people died in a train derailment in Aberdeenshire after a ScotRail service crashed on Wednesday amid heavy rain and flooding in Scotland.
British Transport Police (BTP) said those pronounced dead at the scene near Stonehaven included the train’s driver, while six people were injured in the derailment.
However, Scotland was hit by 17,000 lighting strikes in 12 hours, rainfall and flash floods, as hailstones ‘the size of £2 coins’ battered London during the afternoon, bringing an end to the heatwave.
Social media users posted stunning pictures and videos of the torrential downpour of the icy orbs in the capital, with some people comparing them to the size of ‘imperial mints’ or ‘gobstoppers’.
Brits are now bracing themselves for an eight-day thunderstorm barrage. Conditions are perfect for firecracker superstorms, with exceptional temperatures and unstable air, forecasters said.
The Met Office forecast much worse thunderstorms than usual due to the mass of hot air from the south. A 700 mile-wide ‘flame-thrower’ heat plume has blown in from Spain.
Meanwhile social media users posted a series of memes this afternoon showing they are looking forward to the rain and an end to the blistering heat.
This is the electrifying moment lightning filled the sky above Perth, Perth and Kinross, as thunderstorms battered Scotland
Lightning in Stoke on Trent on Tuesday evening as the heatwave continues causing dramatic storms in some part of the country.
A picture on social media showing the severe hailtstones in Richmond, London, this afternoon
Social media users have been comparing the large hailstones striking the country. The ones on the right are almost the size of a £2 coin
Flooding in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire in Scotland, where a nearby train has derailed. Thunderstorm warnings are still current for most of the UK on Wednesday, while high temperatures are forecast again for many parts of England
A girl using crutches walks out from the beach in Southend on Sea, Essex, at low tide to cool down in the water after another hot day
Beaches such as Hayling Island in Hampshire were again popular today as Britain again experienced temperatures of 93F upwards
Beachgoers on Hayling Island in Hampshire tried to cool down from more intense heat today by taking a dip in the water
A large number of visitors brought paddle boards as they took to the water off Hayling Island beach, Hampshire earlier today
Families enjoyed donkey rides on Blackpool beach today as the heatwave that has been sweeping Britain in recent days continues
As well as the sixth day in a row of the mercury hitting at least 93F (34C), Britain also has 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 today 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 12 days ago.
Forecaster Greg Dewhurst said: ‘It’s not often we get temperatures this high over several days, and that is triggering thunderstorms across parts of England and Wales.’
Severe storms could see 30 to 40mm of rain falling in less than an hour in some places, which comes after heavy downpours lashed large parts of Scotland and caused flooding on Tuesday evening.
‘If rain is falling on places that have been quite hot and dry, and the ground is quite hard, the rain doesn’t have anywhere to go, and from that we can see flash flooding,’ he added.
A house burst into flames in Falkirk after being struck by lightning, while Church of Scotland minister Peter Johnston, who is based in Aberdeen, tweeted this morning: ‘Biblical levels of flooding… never seen it this bad.’
A Damaged house in Reddingrig Place, in Falkirk, after severe weather in Scotland that has led to flash flooding
Image of the road collapse, near the village of Fala, 15 miles south of Edinburgh, has closed the road while engineers work to make it safe, and a diversion is in place, via Fala Dam
Cars are piled up at Queen Victoria Hospital car park in Kirkcaldy, Fife, this morning after major flooding in Scotland overnight
Flooding at Perth station in Scotland this morning as ScotRail services are hit by weather disruption today
Flooding at Queen Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy, Fife, today as thunderstorm warnings remain for most of the UK
Cars sit in floodwater in Perth, Scotland, this morning following thunderstorms and heavy rain overnight in parts of Britain
Cars on a flooded road in Aberdeen this morning following overnight heavy rain across parts of Scotland
Flooding outside Perth station in Scotland this morning as parts of the country are hit by heavy rain and thunderstorms
Cars have been left with major damage following flooding at Queen Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy, Fife, this morning
A flooded road in Aberdeen is pictured this morning following heavy rain and thunderstorms overnight in parts of Scotland
A train stands in floodwater at Perth railway station in Scotland this morning following severe weather overnight
Flooding in Perth, Scotland, this morning as the Met Office issued a storm warning for all of England and Scotland
A yellow thunderstorm warning which covers the majority of England, excluding parts of the north-east, has been issued by the Met Office for Thursday.
Further unsettled weather is predicted throughout the afternoon and evening.
Mr Dewhurst added: ‘Generally, the rest of the week remains unsettled with showers, some of them thundery and heavy, but there will still be some warm, sunny spells at times too.’
On the roads, some vehicles were recovered after they were abandoned amid flooding on the M8, which was partly closed for a time but later reopened.
A Police Scotland spokesman said: ‘We were made aware of flooding on the M8 between junctions 5 and 6 in Lanarkshire shortly before 4am. No injuries have been reported and officers have assisted partner agencies.’
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said it was called to multiple reports of flooding in the Perthshire area, with many domestic properties affected.
Perth and Kinross Council said several roads in the area were impassable due to flooding.
At 7am, the council tweeted that Feus Road/Marshall Place/Wallace Crescent/Crammond Place/Crieff Road/Glasgow Road and A912 at Bogle Bridge were affected, while surface water was causing problems in many other areas.
Now for the hosepipe ban! Warning from water chiefs as storms bring drama to heatwave
The prospect of the first hosepipe ban in eight years reared its head yesterday – just as dramatic storms began to sweep the country.
Families have been using record amounts of water to fill paddling pools and relieve parched gardens in the heatwave which has hit 98F in parts.
But while some towns have come ‘perilously close’ to running out of water, other areas have been hit by thunderstorms. Wales saw hailstones ‘the size of golf balls’ on Monday night and today the South faces a risk of flooding in downpours.
The increased water demand during the scorching weather is blamed on millions still working from home combined with families taking staycations.
Also, many families who took time to improve their gardens during lockdown have now been watering their plants. Water companies in the driest parts have now urged them to cut their usage.
South East Water has warned that their demand – a record 696million litres last Friday dropping slightly to 673million on Monday – was unsustainable.
And bosses have urged families to avoid using ‘water-guzzling garden hoses and sprinklers’. Steve Andrews, head of central operation at the company, said: ‘When demand is this high, we can’t treat enough raw water and get it through to all customers.’
He added: ‘The average paddling pool needs 530 litres of water to fill them – more than three times the total daily amount of water usually used by one person.’
Due to the shortages, around 300 households in parts of Sussex lost water supplies altogether over the weekend, with many more experiencing interrupted supplies.
It comes as skies across England were lit by thunderstorms on Monday night following scorching temperatures. And heavy rain hit Lancashire where at least ten properties were affected by flooding.
Today there are more flood warnings as thunderstorms start to sweep the country with as much as 3in of rain. The storms are expected to rage until Friday as the humid air has created the perfect conditions for thundery outbreaks.
The whole country is under a Met Office thunderstorm warning until then. The impact of the heatwave was seen at King’s College Cambridge where a wildflower meadow which was blooming in June was being raked away yesterday.
Pictures posted on social media showed cars half-submerged in floodwater in streets in Perth.
In Fife, a landslide caused the closure of the A921 between Kinghorn and Burntisland. Police urged motorists to use an alternative route.
BT’s incident management team said a major outage at an exchange in Edinburgh, caused by the weather, was affecting about 100,000 customers’ broadband on BT, EE and Plusnet in the city and surrounding area. It was reported at 6.30am and engineers were on site working on the issue.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Met Office predicted storms would arrive in the north-west, north Wales and the West Midlands tonight and tomorrow.
Chief meteorologist Steve Ramsdale said in these areas ‘exceptional rainfall totals could be seen of 60mm in an hour with a very small chance of 150mm of rainfall in three or four hours’.
Ten properties in Lancashire were affected by flooding yesterday following overnight storms, the Environment Agency said.
The rainfall caused the Burrow Beck waterway in Scotforth, south Lancaster, to rise by almost a metre in less than three hours, the agency’s flood risk manager Andy Brown said.
The Environment Agency said further heavy showers could cause more flooding in ‘mostly urban areas’ of England until Friday, with some homes being affected.
Meanwhile the prospect of the first hosepipe ban in eight years reared its head yesterday as sweltering families use record amounts of water filling paddling pools and restoring parched gardens after days of very high temperatures.
Despite parts of Britain being battered by dramatic thunderstorms, some towns have come ‘perilously close’ to running out of water, and hundreds of households have been cut off altogether.
Millions of people still working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic has combined with families taking staycations instead of travelling abroad to push water demand during the current heatwave to unprecedented levels.
Now water companies in the driest parts of England have urged people to cut their usage, with millions facing lower water pressure to preserve scarce supplies – although so far none has threatened to impose a hosepipe ban.
Around 300 households in parts of Sussex lost water supplies altogether over the weekend, with many more experiencing interrupted supplies.
Engineers from South East Water were yesterday working to restore supplies for people in parts of Haywards Heath and Cuckfield.
Bosses warned that demand – a record 696million litres last Friday dropping slightly to 673million on Monday – was unsustainable.
They blamed the surge on more of us being at home, the increase in staycations and people undertaking DIY and gardening projects.
A house burst into flames in Falkirk after being struck by lightning overnight amid the severe weather conditions
A spectacular lightning show lights up the skies over Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales overnight amid the severe conditions
Lightning is seen over Newcastle-under-Lyme in Staffordshire overnight as thunderstorms hit parts of Britain
Lightning is seen over Mow Cop in Staffordshire overnight as parts of the country faces severe thunderstorms
Steve Andrews, head of central operations for South East Water, said: ‘When demand is this high, we simply can’t treat enough raw water and get it through the extensive network of pipes to all customers, especially at peak times.’
It is pumping an extra 150million litres a day into the system.
But he asked people to avoid using ‘water-guzzling garden hoses and sprinklers’ which it said could use as much water as a family-of-six over the course of a day.
‘I was shocked to be told that the average paddling pool now needs a whopping 530 litres of water to fill them – more than three times the total daily amount of water usually used by one person,’ Mr Andrews added.
‘This is adding to the high demand for water seen during this hot summer weather.’
Neighbouring Thames Water – with 15million customers – warned that ‘a combination of hot weather, businesses returning to work, and more people staying in the area over the holiday period due to Covid-19 restrictions’ meant water use across the Homes Counties and London could reach ‘unprecedented levels’.
It said ‘a good amount of water’ remained in its reservoirs despite rainfall being almost a third lower than normal over the past three months.
‘However, at peak times on hot days, customers in some areas are using water faster than it can be safely treated and pumped to homes and businesses,’ it said.
‘This current high demand will also inevitably reduce reservoir levels.’ Thames Water said it had no plans to impose a hosepipe ban but warned supply could be interrupted if demand did not drop.
Elsewhere in Southern England, Anglian Water is urging customers to take shorter showers and to cover paddling pools overnight then top them up in the morning rather than refilling them daily.
Its director of water services, Paul Valleley, said there had been ‘unprecedented demand’, particularly in parts of Essex.
‘Our teams are working tirelessly to keep taps running but our network is under a huge amount of pressure,’ he said.
Meanwhile Affinity Water – which has 3million customers – said Clacton-on-Sea in Essex came ‘perilously close’ to running out of water over the weekend before a public information campaign saw residents and holidaymakers reduce their demand.
England’s last hosepipe ban was announced during the 2018 heatwave by United Utilities, which serves customers in the normally more rainy North West – although it was cancelled at the last minute when the weather broke.
It has no plans to impose restrictions, it said yesterday.
The warnings come after MPs last month warned that parts of England could run out of water altogether in the next 20 years, with an ‘unacceptable’ one-fifth of the daily supply lost to leaks.
Mims Davies, Conservative MP for Mid-Sussex, yesterday slammed South East Water’s failure to restore supplies as ‘truly diabolical’.
The junior minister tweeted that it was ‘absolutely unacceptable and gives people zero comfort this is being taken properly seriously’.
Elsewhere in the South East, Thames Water insisted reservoirs and aquifers were at normal levels for the time of year, meaning it had no plans to impose restrictions.
But a spokesman said: ‘During any hot and dry spells we could struggle in some areas to treat water and get it to our customers fast enough to keep up with demand, so we’re asking everyone to be particularly careful with how much they use.’
As millions struggled to sleep, retailer Currys PC World said sales of electric fans were up 1,300 per cent year on year.
The Met Office yesterday said climate change could lead to more ‘tropical nights’ where after-dark temperatures do not fall below 68F (20C).
It said there had been three ‘tropical nights’ so far this month, compared to four during the whole of last summer.
‘From a health point of view, the warm nights become an issue, because if you have a hot day and cool night, then people who have long-term health problems and the elderly have a chance to cool down,’ a spokesman said.