Don't pack the shorts away yet! Clouds cover south and east, but sun to return next week - along with weather warnings and potential flooding

Heat and humidity will bring a good chance of heavy showers and even thunder

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The Independent Online

Much of Britain received a brief respite from the country’s first prolonged heatwave since 2006 today, with cloud covering large parts of England, Wales and southern Scotland.

While western areas and some parts Scotland continued to experience sweltering temperatures up to around 28C, the mercury plummeted in the south and east of England, going as low as 16C on the east coast.

But don’t put away the sun screen just yet; the Met Office said today that the sunshine is expected to return again tomorrow, and temperatures will soar back to around 32C or even 33C going into next week.

With the heat and humidity comes a good chance of heavy showers and even thunder across England and Wales, and a severe weather warning has been issued for Tuesday and Wednesday.

Helen Waite, a forecaster for the Met Office, said that rain could be very heavy in places, and combined with the heat-baked ground this could lead to localised flooding.

And while the government’s health warning for the heatwave was reduced to level 2 in most places today, the fierce heat in areas that aren’t hit by showers next week is expected to see the warning return to Level 3, meaning social and health services will need to act to look after the vulnerable.

The Met Office reiterated its advice for staying safe in the very warm weather, and Ms Waite said: “People should read up on the guidance on the NHS and Public Health England websites about what to do and how to keep cool.  The most important things are keeping out of the sun, drinking plenty of water and just being aware for older people or people with pre-existing medical conditions.”

There is expected to be an “elevated risk” of fires in the countryside, with insurers warning wildfires could put lives at risk and cost millions of pounds in damaged crops and machinery.

Police and fire chiefs repeated warnings about escaping the heat by swimming in open water after a number of deaths in recent weeks. Yesterday a 69-year-old woman died off the coast of Skegness, with officers saying the death was not being treated as suspicious.

Elsewhere, a four-week-old baby was among 10 children admitted to one hospital with sunburn since the period of hot weather began.

Six of the 10 patients needed specialist treatment, and had to be referred to the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, West Sussex, from other hospitals because of the severity of their burns.

Today’s break from the heatwave will have been welcome for those who were struggling to find novel ways to keep cool, but that relief will be short-lived as, after the clouds clear tomorrow, we will be in for at least another week of severe warmth.