The UK is bracing for a fourth night of thunderstorms after a month’s worth of rain fell within an hour, leaving cars submerged and railway lines blocked as Britain’s rollercoaster weather continues.
The Met Office issued yet another rain warning for Tuesday, valid until 10pm, covering the whole of the South where 1.2in (30mm) of rain an hour is likely – while nearly 40 flood alerts are still in place across England.
Forecasters said temperatures are likely to be slightly lower than yesterday, with highs of 75F (24C) in the South and 72F (22C) in the North. Humid conditions with a risk of heavy showers could last well into the weekend.
Kent was badly hit by flooding, which affected 30 properties in Chatham, closed a section of the M2 near Faversham, led to tough driving conditions across the county and covered a railway level crossing in Gillingham.
Heavy thunderstorms caused devastation over the three-day weekend, with flash floods seeing roads submerged and firefighters called to rescue those trapped in cars and houses, as the rain continued throughout Tuesday
Also, Britain is facing a flying ant invasion with numbers of the pest set to increase by 20 per cent on last year after an unseasonably warm May, with a 148 per cent increase in calls to pest controllers in the past two months.
People dodge puddles and shield themselves from the wet weather with umbrellas near Southbank Centre during a downpour in London
People caught in the rain on Oxford Street, central London today as forecasters have warned of the risk of more flooding, travel disruption and power cuts with thunderstorms set to rumble on
A man inspects the flood water at his mother’s house following flash flooding on Pembrooke Road in Erith, Kent after heavy rain on Tuesday. Back gardens and basements were left under two feet of water
A man walks across Westminster Bridge just as London is hit by thunderstorms and heavy rain today
Cars plough through flooded roads in Dartford Kent after a recent rain storm on Tuesday
Torrential rain and thunder storms brought flash flooding to Hatters Way in Dunstable, England. An HGV driver splashes buckets of rain water at taxi, as they drive past
Streets in Gravesend, Kent, have been left submerged in water today after a storm resulted in a deluge in less than an hour
Cars make their way through a flooded road today in Gravesend, Kent, after a deluge of rain today
In Sittingbourne, Kent, the fire service is dealing with a number of people stranded in broken down vehicles after flooding. Kent County Council said some roads had become ‘virtually impassable’ with sections of the highway drainage system ‘overwhelmed’ by the torrential rain.
Meanwhile, in Herne Bay, Kent, commuters have reportedly been handed plastic bags to wear on their legs as they move through the flooded station.
Stuart Blagden, one of the passengers caught up in the flooding, told Kent Live: ‘I was there at 10:15, the bags work if you walk slowly. If you try to rush your feet will go through them and your feet will get wet.
‘I was dropping someone off so I had to come back through again and my feet both got wet as the bags began to get holes in them.
‘I’ve heard this isn’t the first time it’s flooded down there I would imagine it would be pretty simple to fit a pump with a float device that once activated would automatically pump water out of there. But I guess bags are cheaper.’
The flooding comes as parts of Britain continue a clean-up mission after lightning damaged homes in the Midlands – with a kitchen destroyed in one incident in Staffordshire, and a bolt blowing a hole through a house in Walsall.
Heavy rain and thunderstorms will continue in southern England tonight, with the Met Office warning area in yellow
Pictured: Map of lightening strikes (highlighted in red) in the London area around 4pm on Tuesday afternoon
Thunderstorms and showers will hit southern areas this evening, with temperatures up to 70F (21C) in the South West
A kitchen was destroyed in Meir, Stoke-on-Trent, after lightning struck a house and sparked a major blaze that saw firefighters rescue two dogs, a cat and four kittens.
The homeowner, who found out about the blaze as she travelled home from London, said: ‘My neighbour called me to tell me what had happened and I didn’t know what to think. I have not got a lot of kitchen left.
‘The kitchen is completely destroyed. But all the pets are OK. The fire brigade gave them oxygen and the RSPCA came and took them to the vets. I’ve just had a phone call to tell me that they are fine.’
The lightning strike hit the semi-detached property just after 8pm on Sunday – and also blew out telephone lines and power at neighbouring homes.
Meanwhile in Walsall, a lightning bolt destroyed the roof of a house in Bloxwich, with surprised neighbours reporting seeing smoke billowing over homes in the residential street.
Firefighters made the area secure by pulling down some loose sections of the rood around the original hole.
Just down the road, a separate strike punched a hole was through the roof of another home, smashing light switches and leaving the home without power this morning.
Those off for half-term this week have been warned of potential flash floods and sudden worsening of visibility amid heavy rain and balmy temperatures.
Forecasters say there is a small chance that homes and businesses could be flooded or struck by lightning, causing damage to some buildings, and where flooding does occur there is a slight chance of delays to trains.
People dodge puddles and shield themselves from the wet weather with umbrellas near Southbank Centre during a downpour in London today
A woman wades through puddles in Southbank Centre in London (left) and a firefighter empties water from his boot after flash flooding on Pembrooke Road in Erith, Kent
Women take shelter from the heavy rain under umbrellas as they hurriedly walk through Oxford Street in central London
Pedestrians and tourists are caught in heavy downpours at Trafalgar Square in London today
Meanwhile Capybaras were treated to a frozen ice lolly this afternoon at Knowsley Safari Park, as temperatures soared in the North West
Commuters use newspapers and umbrellas to avoid getting wet as they cross Westminster Bridge in London today
Cars plough through flooded roads in Dartford, Kent, following a rainstorm today
Cars and busses travel on the M25 in Surrey this afternoon in dangerous conditions as heavy rain pours down
Spray and flooding could lead to difficult driving conditions and some road closures, while flooding or lightning strikes could cause power cuts in some areas.
A Met Office spokesman said: ‘It’s fairly normal weather for us to see thunderstorms through the summer months as temperatures warm up. Thunderstorms are caused by the warmer air.’
She said most summer rain comes in short, sharp, heavy showers, adding that what is unusual is the longevity of this period – with the risk of thundery showers lasting through the week.
Tomorrow, while some places will escape the worst of the rain, or even manage to stay largely dry, some rain will be heavy and up to 1.2in (30mm) could fall in an hour or less and 2in (50mm) could fall in a couple of hours.
Over the weekend, temperatures peaked at 82F (27.6C) at St James’s Park in London on Sunday, while yesterday’s high was 81F (27.3C) in Cavendish, Suffolk – while other areas of the country basked in sunshine.
Heavy thunderstorms and torrential downpours affected the West Midlands, with a lightning strike hitting a roof in Walsall
A kitchen in Meir, Stoke-on-Trent, was ‘completely destroyed’ after lightning struck a house and sparked a major blaze
A lightning bolt destroyed the roof of a house in Walsall during the storm that struck across Britain over the weekend
Heavy thunderstorms lashed the South and East yesterday, as well as West Wales. Weather agency Meteo Group said 100 lightning strikes were recorded between 1pm and 5pm in West Sussex and Hampshire alone yesterday.
Torrential rain and multiple lightning strikes also created mayhem in Milton Keynes yesterday. Almost a dozen people had to be rescued from flood-swamped cars in the Buckinghamshire town.
Emergency services received 200 calls from those caught in flash floods. Meanwhile a month’s rainfall hit parts of Birmingham in just one hour on Sunday afternoon, leaving a major route into the city impassable with 5ft of water.
Winterbourne in Edgbaston recorded 2.25in (58mm) of rainfall in just one hour. The average rainfall in the West Midlands for the entire month of May is 2.16in (55mm).
A man in his 80s died in the flooding after his van in Rushall, Birmingham, became submerged in floodwater in the early hours of yesterday.
Mother of two Kirinna Johnson, 26, said a neighbour had dived into the water to try to help, adding ‘he was a real hero’. Attempts to break a window with a hammer failed before firefighters arrived.
Sunseekers headed to Lyme Regis beach in Dorset yesterday to make the most of the Bank Holiday Monday weather
Women enjoy the hot weather in Victoria Park, East London, yesterday as temperatures soared across the country
A man and woman cool off in the sea off Blackpool beach in Lancashire yesterday as they play with a ball
A woman takes cover under a jacket as London is hit by sudden heavy rain yesterday at Potter Fields Park, near Tower Bridge
Residents in Selly Oak, Birmingham, had to be rescued by firefighters following flooding on Sunday in the West Midlands
They cut the man free from the van but he had been in the water for five minutes. He was taken to hospital but later pronounced dead.
Residents had to be rescued from their homes in parts of Birmingham when the downpour caused flash flooding, including some in Selly Oak who were rescued by fire crews in boats.
Flood defences costing £2.7million are planned for the area but not yet completed.
Support worker Thomas Mellett, 39, of Selly Park, who lives with his disabled brother Patrick Mellett, said: ‘My brother couldn’t get out and the fire brigade came with a boat to get him out.’
He said the incomplete flood defences ‘were no good to anyone.’
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all enjoyed their hottest days of 2018 yesterday, with Dunstaffnage in Argyll reaching 27.1C (80.8F), Hawarden Airport in Clwyd reaching 24.9C (76.8F), and Castlederg in County Tyrone reaching 25.1C (77.2F).
However the 2018 UK record so far stands at 84.4F (29.1C) which was recorded in Central London in April.
Britain is facing a flying ant INVASION with numbers of the pest set to increase by 20% on last year after an unseasonably warm May
Britain is facing a flying ant invasion with numbers of the pest set to shoot up. Pictured: Flying ants at Wimbledon last year on July 5
Britain is facing a flying ant invasion with numbers of the pest set to increase by 20 per cent on last year after an unseasonably warm May.
Pest control bosses say they are taking record numbers of calls with a 148 per cent increase in the past two months.
Experts warned that the UK’s ant population is normally 150billion but has risen to 200billion this year thanks to the recent bout of hot weather.
It comes after April 19 saw Britain bask in 84F (29C) heat, the hottest April day since 1949, and May is set to be one of the warmest on record.
Because of the surge in the number of ants, the number of flying ants – when ants sprout wings and go on ‘nuptial flights’ in search of a mate – is expected to take place earlier this year than normal.
The event, often called Flying Ant Day – despite it normally lasting around a fortnight – normally takes place in July, but this year is expected to take place as early as June.
A spokesman for Rentokil said: ‘There has been a significant increase in ant activity across the UK. Ant-related call outs increased 148 per cent from March to April.
‘Experts believe the rise could be attributed to the unseasonably warm start to the spring – after Brits experienced record-breaking warm weather in April.
‘Last month’s period of clear skies and the hottest April day since 1949 may explain the surge in activity, as ants are typically more active in higher temperatures and colonies use sunlight to navigate.
‘If the weather remains mild, Rentokil expects higher levels of ant activity throughout the summer period. Ant life-cycles depend on temperature, and the amount of food available to them.
‘Provided the Queen is healthy, and enough food is being brought back to the nest, ant eggs have a greater chance of survival. Ants can hatch after just three weeks, leading to increased breeding and larger colonies during prolonged warm periods.’
David Cross, head of the technical training academy at Rentokil Pest Control, said: ‘Last month we saw reported ant infestations rise to levels we wouldn’t usually expect until June or July.
‘It’s rare to see ant infestations in cold or overcast weather, and while the ‘Beast from the East’ may have caused them to remain dormant in March, the sudden change in temperature has since brought them out in their droves. This trend could be set to continue throughout the rest of the summer.’
Bosses at Rentokil said that the main food source for ant was sugary secretions from insects like aphids – although many will sneak into homes to feast on sugary deposits from fruit and any food left out.
When one any finds a good food source it leaves a ‘pheromone trail’, which tips off ant pals about a good food source, which can see hundreds and thousands march into homes, often through cracks in doors, windows and through pipes.
#BacktoWork! Britons deal with returning to the office after the three-day weekend with funny Twitter memes
Britons told of their dismay at heading #BacktoWork after the three-day weekend today, with many Twitter accounts posting a series of tongue-in-cheek memes.
One compared their email inbox to the scene in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone when dozens of letters from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry fly in through the fireplace.
Others used memes from film The Boss Baby, and TV shows The Great British Bake Off and Keeping Up With The Kardashians to help illustrate their unhappy feelings as they returned to the office.
Meanwhile one Twitter user posted a screengrab of her work computer asking for a password, with the hint: ‘You know it, hun.’ She said: ‘Thought I was really clever at the time, now… I’m not feeling so clever.’
And Clare Elizabeth from Wolverhampton tweeted: ‘When you get in the shower still half asleep and wash your hair with conditioner… you can only hope your day is going to get better #backtowork.’