Sunshine, thunderstorms and hail: Britain braced for weather lottery


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The Independent Online

Britain is bracing itself for days of weather more barmy than balmy as sunshine, thunderstorms and even hail downpours arrive.

After a few dry days' respite this week, Britons will need to pack their umbrellas with them - but also their sunglasses as unpredictable sun spells are broken up with dark clouds, torrential rains and storms across the nation.

"We British should be used to it by now," said Brendan Jones, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the Press Association's weather division.

"And there could be some hail too and quite frequent lightning and thunder."

And the unpleasant weather is expected to continue on Saturday.

It is possible the south eastern corner might miss some of the heavy downpours but parts of England and Wales were warned to be ready for more flooding today.

The unseasonal conditions are being caused by low pressure over Ireland which has winds swirling round it, sending gusts of up to 50mph across the UK.

Mr Jones described claims the storms could be Britain's worst in 50 years as "clearly over the top" and "nonsense".

He said: "The storm coming up is no worse than the winds last week.

"And in terms of wind they will not be as severe."

The Met Office also issued a new warning of wet and windy weather with periods of persistent heavy rain for parts of Wales and south-western England until Saturday.

The Environment Agency urged people in the South West and most of Wales to remain vigilant and prepared for flooding.

There are concerns the rain could lead to surface water flooding particularly in upland areas and places already at risk of floods after heavy rain earlier this week.

The Environment Agency has issued two flood warnings for rivers, where flooding is expected, and 26 less serious flood alerts.

The government agency has also issued direct flood alerts to more than 32,500 properties this week.

Pumping equipment was deployed in several areas in West Sussex to pump out water following flooding earlier in the week.

The Environment Agency said river levels across the South East were being monitored closely amid forecasts of more wet weather, with potentially up to 20mm of rainfall today and into the weekend.

In preparation, teams were out closing flood gates, operating flood storage areas, clearing debris from known hotspots and warning local communities about the possibility of flooding.