Floods follow fierce storms wash away M25

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LARGE SWATHES of Britain, which had only hours earlier basked in Mediterranean temperatures, ground to a halt early yesterday after storms and torrential rain brought flooding and power cuts.

The storms swept in from France overnight. After battering southern England from the early hours, they headedto the Midlands and the North.

In some areas more than one-and-a-half inches of rain fell in an hour. There were dozens of lightning strikes.

The storm, known as the Spanish Plume by meteorologists, was caused by the shift of a warm and humid pool of air from Spain and France.

In Hampshire, fire crews dealt with 108 weather-related incidents. More than 500 people were evacuated from a Southampton nightclub when the roof collapsed under the weight of the rainwater. In Brighton, parts of the Royal Sussex County Hospital were evacuated due to flooding. Two 80-year-old women had their purses stolen as they struggled to deal with 2ft-deep floodwater at a charity shop in Brixham, Devon.

There was a catalogue of delays and accidents on the road and rail networks. In the South-east, there were delays on the M25, while the London Underground was hit by flooding, forcing the closure of a number of stations and extensive delays.