UK weather: 3,000 lightning strikes illuminate skyline before 'hottest day of the year'

Thunderstorms, torrential rain and strong winds are being expected on a day where temperatures 'will top 30C'

The weather in the UK is turning distinctly tropical with the hottest day of the year marred by torrential rain and major disruptions across parts of the transport network following a spectacular lightning storm last night.

An electrical storm in the early hours of this morning damaged power lines used by train provider Greater Anglia and had led to severely affected services to and from London Liverpool Street with a raft of cancelled trains.

Lightning struck more than 3,000 times in two hours, BBC Weather said, iving eager photographers and storm lovers a sight to behold.

Routes to and from London have now improved, while disruption is also being experienced on routes going through Romford.

"An earlier signalling fault in the Romford area caused by lightning strikes was causing disruption to all trains through this area," the firm says on its website.

Commuters are being urged to check the status of their train before travelling.

Thunderstorms, lightning and thunder “pushed into Cornwall at about 7 or 8pm last night then gradually went northwards and eastwards,” Mark Wilson, forecaster at the Met Office told The Independent.

“Much of southern England experienced thunderstorms. There weren’t many places that escaped. London saw some thunderstorms too. It was quite a broad area that saw it.”

Read more: Lightning storms: Why you can blame a 'kink' in the jet stream

“The rainfall wasn’t excessive, just a lot of lightning activity. It was also very muggy.”

The storm band has since lost its intensity while moving northwards, while many parts of the south can expect a drier day than previously thought.

Signalling problems are also affecting First Capital Connect and East Midlands Trains services between St Pancras and Luton.

A severe weather warning has been issued to large swathes of the UK cautioning that “heavy, thundery showers will develop over England and Wales from Friday night before moving northwards into Scotland during Saturday” despite temperatures topping 30C for most of the country.

The Met Office continued: “The location of these is uncertain but where they do form some torrential downpours are possible with frequent lightning, large hail and locally strong gusts. Significant flooding is possible where these do occur from surface water as well as from small, fast responding watercourses.

“The frequent lightning, large hail and strong gusts could also be an additional hazard.”

London and Essex could see temperatures reach as high as 32C, while other parts of the south will enjoy heat in the late 20s.

Average temperatures for this time of year are 21/22C in London, with today’s heat considerably higher than normal.

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