Thunder, hail and lightning: Heavy storms mark climax of longest heatwave for nearly 40 years

Threat of flash flooding as localised, torrential downpours hit sun-baked ground

A fortnight's rain fell overnight in parts of Britain, bringing a stormy end to the country's longest heatwave in seven years.

The thunder, lightning and hail that broke the sunny spells on Monday night will last intermittently throughout Tuesday and Wednesday, coupled with torrential rain and the risk of flash floods, weather experts warned.

Pershore in Worcestershire recorded the highest rainfall last night with more than an inch (25.8mm) falling - half the area's 50mm average total for the whole of July, the Met Office said.

Rochdale saw 18.6mm (0.7 inches) in the 12 hours to 7am while Monks Wood in Cambridgeshire recorded 15mm (0.6 inches).

The sunnier climate that provided the nation with weeks of scorching temperatures, peaked yesterday at 33.5C in London - the hottest day since 20 July, 2006.

The storms will thunder on over the Midlands as well as across eastern, central, northern and southern parts of England, with the East Midlands, London and Kent experiencing the worst of the weather.

Temperatures will dip to the high 20s and remain humid, but the west of England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be far cooler before the rest of the country gradually follows suit.

Briton's can even expect more of the large hailstones witnessed in south London as a result of the humidity.

Brendan Jones, a forecaster at MeteoGroup said: “In the last few weeks an area of high pressure has hung over the UK creating settled, very hot conditions.

“But now air is pushing in from the Atlantic and meeting this humid air, and the combination is causing these strong and violent storms that will last on and off throughout the day and linger into Wednesday.

“The main threat is of flash flooding from localised but torrential rain, especially as the ground is so dry and solid it will not soak up the water very easily.

“Another threat is from the frequency of the lightning bolts, which could come down to the ground and cause damage.

“It will remain quite hot and humid in some areas today, but generally everywhere will now start to cool off.”

The Met Office has now issued a low-level alert warning of storms and torrential downpours across England, Wales and Scotland.

It advised: “The public should be aware of the risk of localised disruption to travel, and more generally to summer holiday activities, due to, for example, surface water flooding.”

The overall trend for the rest of the week will include cooler temperatures across the UK, with continuing showers and thunderstorms. Temperatures in the next week should settle into the low 20s.

The hot weather has taken its toll on the UK in recent weeks, with grass fires in London, mountain blazes in the Welsh valleys and forest fires in Fife, Scotland.

Wildlife experts are warning of the risk of fires in important landscapes that are in “tinder box” condition after days of hot, dry weather.

Devon Wildlife Trust has teamed up with Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service to urge people to take care to avoid fires in the region, which can devastate habitats that are key to rare species as well pose dangers to people and farmland.

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