Heavy rain brings flash flooding and thunderstorms as forecasters warn of ‘danger to life’


Heavy rain has brought flash flooding and thunderstorms to the UK as forecasters warn of ‘danger to life’ after England endures scorching 34C heat – but experts warn that even three days of downpours will not fully relieve bone-dry Britain. 

The Met Office has issued three days of alerts after weeks of soaring temperatures saw a drought declared across more than half of England.

However experts have warned that it will take ‘weeks’ of heavy rainfall to help parts of the country recover from the driest July on record.

Temperatures reached 34C on Sunday as the UK braces for three days of rain and yellow weather warnings.

The Met Office said Charlwood, in Surrey, recorded the highest temperature with 34.1C.

Thunderstorms are now expected in northern parts of the country, with the forecaster having issued a yellow weather warning from noon on Sunday through to midnight on Monday for most of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

It has also warned of ‘torrential rain’ that could cause flash flooding, power cuts and traffic disruption.

This was escalated to an amber warning in parts of Northern Ireland, which states that ‘fast flowing or deep floodwater is likely — causing danger to life’. 

The yellow warning then spreads to England and Wales on Monday and Tuesday, with just the south west and south east of England facing a third day of yellow warnings on Wednesday until midnight, as the rain eases off elsewhere.

Inverness in Scotland was hit with heavy rainfall that caused flash flooding in a Tesco supermarket, and rain breaking through the ceiling in a Vue Cinema.

Customers were evacuated from the supermarket after water poured in through the ceiling.  Videos on social media showed tiles on the ceiling falling to the floor and water pouring in, covering most of the floor in the supermarket.

The area was affected by heavy thunderstorms and torrential rain for most of Sunday.

A Tesco spokesperson said: ‘Our Inverness Inshes Extra store is temporarily closed while we assess some damage to the roof. We’re sorry for any inconvenience. We’re working to reopen as soon as possible.’

A car park close to the supermarket, located in the Inshes Retail Park, was also flooded, as was a nearby Vue cinema.

The yellow weather warning is expected to be in place until midnight on Monday. It follows temperatures reaching 30 degrees last week and red water shortage warnings being issued to parts of Fife and the Borders.

Pictures taken across the Scottish Highlands showed dark clouds growing as they rolled in, before pouring torrential rain on the area. 

It comes as several wildfires erupted across England in recent days amid the driest summer in half a century. 

Two women wade through flood water at a Tesco store in Inverness as heavy rain hits the area on Sunday

Two women wade through flood water at a Tesco store in Inverness as heavy rain hits the area on Sunday 

Water comes through the Tesco store in Inverness after heavy rainfall on Sunday afternoon

Water comes through the Tesco store in Inverness after heavy rainfall on Sunday afternoon 

Rain pours through the ceiling in the Tesco store, after high temperatures

Rain pours through the ceiling in the Tesco store, after high temperatures 

Water coming through the roof of the Vue Cinema in Inverness after heavy rainfall on Sunday afternoon

Water coming through the roof of the Vue Cinema in Inverness after heavy rainfall on Sunday afternoon

Rain pours through the ceiling in Vue Cinema in Inverness as visitors watch on from the sidelines

Visitors watch on from the sidelines as the rain pours into the cinema through the roof

Rain pours through the ceiling in Vue Cinema in Inverness as visitors watch on from the sidelines

Darcie Bell pushed her brother Brogan through flood water outside the Matalan store in Inverness

Darcie Bell pushed her brother Brogan through flood water outside the Matalan store in Inverness

An incident support vehicle splashes up flood water on a road in Inverness on Sunday afternoon

An incident support vehicle splashes up flood water on a road in Inverness on Sunday afternoon

Heavy rain clouds hit Scotland on Sunday afternoon following high temperatures across the country

Heavy rain clouds hit Scotland on Sunday afternoon following high temperatures across the country

Pictures taken across the Scottish Highlands showed dark clouds growing as they rolled in over the water

Pictures taken across the Scottish Highlands showed dark clouds growing as they rolled in over the water

Large puddles grew quickly on the streets as heavy rain came down fast on Sunday afternoon

Large puddles grew quickly on the streets as heavy rain came down fast on Sunday afternoon

A fire truck parks outside the Inverness Tesco store as it floods in heavy rain on Sunday

A fire truck parks outside the Inverness Tesco store as it floods in heavy rain on Sunday

Heavy rain floods the roads in Inverness, Scotland, as the Met Office predicts flash flooding in parts of the country

The Met Office has predicted flash flooding in parts of the country

Heavy rain floods the roads in Inverness, Scotland, as the Met Office predicts flash flooding in parts of the country

Droughts have been declared in eight areas and an amber warning for ‘extreme heat’ remains in place for large parts of the south, east, west, midlands and north of England until midnight.

Met Officer meteorologist Dan Stroud said that the air is becoming unstable as high pressure dominated the country.

‘We’ve had a number of days now where we’ve had clear, strong, clear skies and strong sunshine which has heated up the ground,’ the forecaster said.

‘We’ve had high pressure dominating, now we’re having low pressure dominate, so the air is becoming more unstable. 

‘As we’ve had some very high ground temperatures, it doesn’t actually take too much for the air to become even more unstable and for thundery showers to develop quickly.’

The mercury could also dip as low as 9C (48F) over the next few days – just weeks after Britain recorded its hottest ever temperature of 40.3C (104.5F).

Holidaymakers and sunbathers pack the beach as they enjoy the scorching hot sunshine at the seaside resort of Weymouth in Dorset today

Holidaymakers and sunbathers pack the beach as they enjoy the scorching hot sunshine at the seaside resort of Weymouth in Dorset today

Beach-goers have been enjoying the final hours of the heatwave on the beach before thunderstorms are expected to move in with rainfall

Beach-goers have been enjoying the final hours of the heatwave on the beach before thunderstorms are expected to move in with rainfall

Beach-goers having fun on pedalos at Weymouth beach in Dorset on Sunday as temperatures again soar up to 33C in southern areas

Beach-goers having fun on pedalos at Weymouth beach in Dorset on Sunday as temperatures again soar up to 33C in southern areas

An amber warning for 'extreme heat' remains in place for large parts of the south, east, west, midlands and north of England until midnight. Pictured: Weymouth beach today

An amber warning for ‘extreme heat’ remains in place for large parts of the south, east, west, midlands and north of England until midnight. Pictured: Weymouth beach today

A boat lies in the dried up Huddersfield narrow canal near Linthwaite in the Colne Valley on Sunday amid the UK's driest summer for 50 years

A boat lies in the dried up Huddersfield narrow canal near Linthwaite in the Colne Valley on Sunday amid the UK’s driest summer for 50 years

A man sunbathes in a nearly empty Greenwich Park in south London, as a drought has been declared for parts of England

A man sunbathes in a nearly empty Greenwich Park in south London, as a drought has been declared for parts of England

People play Sunday league amateur football matches on parched grass pitches on the famous Hackney Marshes, London, during the heatwave today

People play Sunday league amateur football matches on parched grass pitches on the famous Hackney Marshes, London, during the heatwave today

The UK is enduring its driest summer for 50 years, with sports pitches becoming parched due to the severe lack of rainfall in recent weeks

The UK is enduring its driest summer for 50 years, with sports pitches becoming parched due to the severe lack of rainfall in recent weeks

Met Office forecaster Mr Stroud added: ‘We are moving away from the very hot and dry spell that we’ve been subject to into a much more showery regime. We’re likely to see some heavy and, at times, thundery showers.’

He said some places could face nearly two inches of rainfall, adding: ‘It’s going to be much appreciated by many people.’

However, he warned that the country needs an ‘average or slightly wetter than average winter’ to recover from the dry summer, claiming that any rain this week will serve only as a ‘short, sharp shock’.

John Curtin, a director at the Environment Agency, said: ‘We’ll need probably average or slightly above average rainfall this autumn into this winter for us to not be in a drought next year.’ It comes after the driest first half of the year since 1976 saw green spaces left parched reservoirs completely dried up.

Three water companies – Welsh Water, Southern Water, and South East Water – have imposed hosepipe bans. Yorkshire Water has said it will introduce one on August 26 and Thames Water is also planning a ban in the coming weeks.

Ministers are also said to be considering plans for a multi-billion-pound water ‘grid’ to guard against future droughts. A huge pipeline could be built to link rainy regions of Britain with dry areas amid fears this summer’s conditions could become more frequent.

People walk past the Queen's House and Old Naval College, in Greenwich Park, London

People walk past the Queen’s House and Old Naval College, in Greenwich Park, London

Festival goers at Boardmasters 2022 in Newquay, Cornwall, on Sunday waking up to another day of scorching heat as temperatures are set to reach 33C

Festival goers at Boardmasters 2022 in Newquay, Cornwall, on Sunday waking up to another day of scorching heat as temperatures are set to reach 33C

People gather in the hot weather at Southend-on-Sea beach, as a drought is declared for parts of England following the driest summer for 50 years

People gather in the hot weather at Southend-on-Sea beach, as a drought is declared for parts of England following the driest summer for 50 years

Beachgoers play in the sea in Southend-on-Sea beach on Sunday, August 14

Beachgoers play in the sea in Southend-on-Sea beach on Sunday, August 14

A swimmer flips into the water at Southend-on-Sea beach on Sunday, August 14

A swimmer flips into the water at Southend-on-Sea beach on Sunday, August 14

Crowds pack out the beach at Southend-on-Sea as they enjoy the warm temperatures on Sunday

Crowds pack out the beach at Southend-on-Sea as they enjoy the warm temperatures on Sunday

People play Sunday league amateur football matches on parched grass pitches at Hackney Marshes, London

People play Sunday league amateur football matches on parched grass pitches at Hackney Marshes, London

People play a Sunday league amateur football match on a parched grass pitch during a heatwave, at Hackney Marshes in London

People play a Sunday league amateur football match on a parched grass pitch during a heatwave, at Hackney Marshes in London

A woman walks with a dog as people play Sunday league amateur football matches at Hackney Marshes, London

A woman walks with a dog as people play Sunday league amateur football matches at Hackney Marshes, London

A walker shields himself with an umbrella from the heat of the sun as he walks through an area of grass in Southampton that set a light over the weekend

A walker shields himself with an umbrella from the heat of the sun as he walks through an area of grass in Southampton that set a light over the weekend

Josh Saint, 27, is part of hundreds of riders and ponies descending into the river near Balmer Lawn in Brockenhurst, late Sunday afternoon as they took part in the biggest horse drive in England

Josh Saint, 27, is part of hundreds of riders and ponies descending into the river near Balmer Lawn in Brockenhurst, late Sunday afternoon as they took part in the biggest horse drive in England

Joanne Weatherby, 40, smiles at her horse as she joins hundreds for The Danny Cooper New Forest Drive

Joanne Weatherby, 40, smiles at her horse as she joins hundreds for The Danny Cooper New Forest Drive

Ellie Bowers, 17, is part of the The Danny Cooper New Forest Drive, a traditional family event that sees hundreds of riders in the travelling community make their way across the New Forest in convoy to raise money for charity

Ellie Bowers, 17, is part of the The Danny Cooper New Forest Drive, a traditional family event that sees hundreds of riders in the travelling community make their way across the New Forest in convoy to raise money for charity

Riders and their horses join together for the biggest horse drive in England on Sunday afternoon

Riders and their horses join together for the biggest horse drive in England on Sunday afternoon

Ellie Bowers, 17, joins hundreds of riders in the travelling community making their way across the New Forest in convoy

Ellie Bowers, 17, joins hundreds of riders in the travelling community making their way across the New Forest in convoy

The sun rises over the countryside in Dunsden, Oxfordshire, this morning as temperatures are forecast to again soar above 30C

The sun rises over the countryside in Dunsden, Oxfordshire, this morning as temperatures are forecast to again soar above 30C

Met Officer meteorologist Dan Stroud said the weather will remain dry across the south today, with thunderstorms expected in northern areas

Met Officer meteorologist Dan Stroud said the weather will remain dry across the south today, with thunderstorms expected in northern areas

Hot air balloons fly over fields across the North Somerset landscape early on Sunday morning as parts of the south brace for 33C temperatures today

Hot air balloons fly over fields across the North Somerset landscape early on Sunday morning as parts of the south brace for 33C temperatures today

The mass ascent this morning forms part of the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta 2022, with clear skies today providing spectacular views

The mass ascent this morning forms part of the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta 2022, with clear skies today providing spectacular views

Data collected from more than 18 water companies, including Thames Water, Severn Trent Water, United Utilities and Welsh Water, showed that sites ranging from Oxfordshire and London, to Warwickshire, had no water or poor pressure

Data collected from more than 18 water companies, including Thames Water, Severn Trent Water, United Utilities and Welsh Water, showed that sites ranging from Oxfordshire and London, to Warwickshire, had no water or poor pressure

A picturesque sky in Dunsden, Oxfordshire, this morning with the UK heatwave expected to go out with a bang this evening when thunderstorms arrive

A picturesque sky in Dunsden, Oxfordshire, this morning with the UK heatwave expected to go out with a bang this evening when thunderstorms arrive

Searing temperatures this week have already central reservation barriers along a stretch of the A63 in Yorkshire (pictured) to buckle

Searing temperatures this week have already central reservation barriers along a stretch of the A63 in Yorkshire (pictured) to buckle

Safety barriers on the A63 in East Yorkshire appear to have buckled in the heat, with the ordinarily straight central reservations having bent towards each other

Safety barriers on the A63 in East Yorkshire appear to have buckled in the heat, with the ordinarily straight central reservations having bent towards each other

Emergency crews search River Thames near Hampton Court Palace for ‘male teenager’ who ‘got into difficulty while swimming’ 

Emergency crews are searching for a man who is thought to have gotten into difficulty in the River Thames.

London Ambulance Service crews have been joined by a hazardous area response team on the bank of the river close to Hampton Court Palace, in Richmond.

A spokesperson told MailOnline that they were called to reports of a person in the water at around 4.15pm on Sunday. MailOnline understands that no one has been found yet.

Metropolitan Police officers could also be seen in the area, as emergency response dinghies lay on the riverbank.

‘We have sent ambulance crews and members of a hazardous area response team,’ the spokesperson added. 

Emergency crews are searching for a man who is thought to have gotten into difficulty in the River Thames

Emergency crews are searching for a man who is thought to have gotten into difficulty in the River Thames

Eyewitnesses said that a man in his ‘mid- to late-teens’ was swimming in the River Thames when he got into difficulty.

A helicopter has also been seen flying over the area. 

Max Taylor, a senior news editor at NBC, was paddle-boarding at Hampton Court Palace when the incident happened, and spoke to eyewitnesses.

The London Ambulance Service was called to reports of a person in the water at around 4.15pm on Sunday

The London Ambulance Service was called to reports of a person in the water at around 4.15pm on Sunday

‘They told me a young male in his mid-late teens was swimming in the river near Hampton Court bridge,’ he told Sky News.

‘He called for help and was in waist deep water. They said they thought he was joking as he wasn’t in deep water — seconds later he had disappeared.

‘I paddled past and saw the inflatable search boats go in and start looking for the young lad — but it must have been a good 10-15 minutes since I spoke to the couple in the boat.’

The Met Office said Charlwood in Surrey, south west England, recorded the highest temperature at 34.9C on Sunday.

Met Office forecasters have warned there is a ‘significant risk’ of further wildfires on Sunday as the ground has been ‘extremely dry for an extended period’.

An official drought was declared in eight areas of England on Friday by the National Drought Group (NDG), which comprises representatives from the Government, water companies, the Environment Agency (EA) and others.

Three water companies — Welsh Water, Southern Water, and South East Water — have all imposed hosepipe bans, while Yorkshire Water has announced a ban will start on August 26 and Thames Water is planning one in the coming weeks.

Mr Stroud said that despite the forecast of intense showers over the next few days, it is unlikely to help the drought.

‘It will help a little but to be honest really, it’s almost the wrong sort of rain,’ he said. ‘What we’re likely to see is some heavy, intense downpours. With the ground baked so dry, it’s very difficult for the ground to actually absorb the water very quickly.

‘So what tends to happen in these circumstances is the water runs off and we can potentially get some surface run-off issues, so some flash floods.’

It comes after a body was found in a Doncaster lake on Saturday after emergency services rushed to reports that a man in his 20s had got into difficulty in water.

Emergency services were called to Lakeside lake at around 4.10pm yesterday, according to South Yorkshire Police.

Little over two hours later, a teenage boy went missing in the sea at Skegness.

Emergency services rushed to reports that ‘a child under 16’ was in the water at around 6.15pm on Saturday.

A search was carried out by police officers and the coastguard, before the boy’s body was tragically recovered at around 11.30pm last night.

Elsewhere, searing temperatures this week have already central reservation barriers along a stretch of the A63 in Yorkshire to buckle.

Pictures taken on Thursday from the Water Lane Bridge, in South Cave, show stretches of the ordinarily straight barriers with large kinks and bends.

The barriers were installed on the dual carriageway earlier during the winter between junction 38 of the M62 and South Cave.

A spokesperson for National highways told the BBC that the buckling may have been caused by ground conditions, but added that the heatwave was ‘not being ruled out’. 

Network Rail has advised passengers to check journeys are running but has reassured them there are no major disruptions expected. 

The hot weather has already seen several wildfires erupt across England, with the latest blaze breaking out in the North York Moors National Park.

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said they were called to the blaze on Saturday evening shortly after 6pm in Sutton Bank and firefighters worked through the night to dampen down the grass to prevent further spread.

There have been 150 wildfires in the past week alone.

More than 90 firefighters tackled a blaze on the Studland peninsula in Purbeck, Dorset, this weekend, which was believed to have been caused by a barbeque.

The weather warning means heat-related illnesses including sunburn and heat exhaustion are ‘likely’ among the general population, while delays to public transport are also ‘possible’.

Mr Stroud has said there remains a risk of further wildfires, too.

He added: ‘It has been extremely dry for an extended period and the ground and vegetation has been baked dry, so there is a significant risk.’

An official drought was declared in eight areas of England on Friday by the National Drought Group (NDG), which comprises representatives from the Government, water companies, the Environment Agency (EA) and others.

And the drought could persist into next year, the EA has said.

Jersey Water urged residents not to use hosepipes and sprinklers after the island, some 85 miles south of the English coast, reached its second ‘absolute drought’ of 2022 after more than 15 days without rain on August 5.

According to the firm, the demand for water during the week reached around 22 million litres of water per day, around 2.5 million more compared to the same period last year.

John Curtin, executive director for local operations at the EA, also said it will take ‘weeks’ worth of rain’ to replenish water sources. 

Three water companies – Welsh Water, Southern Water, and South East Water – have all imposed hosepipe bans, while Yorkshire Water has announced a ban will start on August 26 and Thames Water is planning one in the coming weeks. 

On Saturday, residents in Surrey and West Sussex were without water after issues hit the Netley Mill Water Treatment Works.

Water supplier Thames Water apologised and handed out bottled water to residents in Guildford, Surrey Hills, Dorking and Horsham while engineers worked to restore the supply.

By this morning the problem had been fixed, with residents being told water was ‘gradually returning to the area’.

But Surrey county councillor Liz Townsend slammed the water firm for the supply issues during one of the hottest weekends of the year.

She told BBC Breakfast: ‘This is happening more and more now with warm weather. We had this problem last year as well here.

‘And to be honest, the service is not fit for purpose now and residents are rightly getting very, very annoyed about what they’re having to put up with.’

She added that Thames Water ‘failed this time to meet the needs of the vulnerable as well in and around Cranleigh and Ewhurst’ after she received messages from elderly people saying they had not been delivered any water.’

A drive-through water collection point in Haddenham, Cambridgeshire, on Sunday as the village suffered it fourth day of water problems

A drive-through water collection point in Haddenham, Cambridgeshire, on Sunday as the village suffered it fourth day of water problems

The water supply was cut off to households in the village and the surrounding area on Thursday following a mains pipe burst. There have been intermittent faults since

The water supply was cut off to households in the village and the surrounding area on Thursday following a mains pipe burst. There have been intermittent faults since

A hot air balloon flies over the North Somerset countryside as part of the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta 2022 on Sunday morning

A hot air balloon flies over the North Somerset countryside as part of the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta 2022 on Sunday morning

Nine fire crews attended a wildfire in a field near Newhall, Harlow, where they were able to prevent the blaze from spreading to a nearby woodland and homes

Nine fire crews attended a wildfire in a field near Newhall, Harlow, where they were able to prevent the blaze from spreading to a nearby woodland and homes

People making the most of the weather at Helens Bay Beach in Northern Ireland on Saturday, where it reached highs of 25C (77F)

People making the most of the weather at Helens Bay Beach in Northern Ireland on Saturday, where it reached highs of 25C (77F)

A statement from Thames Water said: ‘Netley Mill Water Treatment Works is now back in service and supply is gradually being restored to the local network. This will continue over the remainder of the day.

‘We are very sorry that customers have been impacted especially at a time of high temperatures.

‘When supplies do begin to return, we are asking customers to try to use this just for essential use initially. This will help us return supplies to everyone quicker.

‘We are supplying bottled water to customers who we know need additional help. If anyone is unable to travel to a bottled water site they should contact us on 0800 316 9800 and we will provide assistance.’

A drive-through water collection point has also been set up in Haddenham, Cambridgeshire, today as the village faced a fourth day of supply problem.

A mains pipe burst on Thursday caused water supply to be cut off to households in the village and its surrounding areas.

It was restored on Friday morning, but there have been intermittent faults all weekend.

Anglian Water has set up a drive through so villagers can pick up water supplies within their cars with the help of the firm’s staff. 

Forecasts of rain will be well-received by many amid the drought and scorched surfaces across the UK.

But the incoming thunderstorms may not help alleviate drought conditions as the parched ground doesn’t easily absorb water, instead it tends to run off the surface.

This means the rainfall is transported quickly into streams and rivers and increases the chance of a flash flood.

On Friday night, fire crews in Derbyshire tackled a huge blaze with four fire engines attending the scene in Creswell, Worksop.

Footage shared online showed flames filling the horizon and large plumes of smoke in the sky above a residential area.

Dartford Heath in Kent was also alight as a result of scorching heat on Saturday, with temperatures reaching highs of 34C (93.2F) in the local area.

And in Dorset, a team of firefighters worked through the night to bring a wildfire at Studland under control, which was believed to have been sparked by a disposable barbecue.

Dorset Police said yesterday that firefighters had discovered an unexploded piece of ammunition believed to date to the Second World War on the scorched heathland.

The force said a bomb disposal unit would be attending and warned the public in the surrounding area they may hear a loud bang as they dispose of the device.

It comes as Dorset Police appealed for anyone with any information about the cause of a large heath fire in Poole on August 4 to come forward.

Witnesses saw three young boys on bicycles making off from the scene at Upton Heath at about 2.30pm.

The fire had a ‘significant’ impact on the community, and took firefighters several hours to put out.

It comes after beach-goers flocked to Brighton and Bournemouth yesterday as temperatures reached 35C. 

Meanwhile, pre-season rugby games were forced to be cancelled because the surfaces are unplayable after weeks without rain.

The pitches have burned out and crusted over, making them rock hard and bringing an element of risk as it increases the chances of players suffering injuries.

The Football Supporters’ Association also urged clubs change their rules to helps of fans during the scorching afternoon in the stands.



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