Heatwave comes to a soggy end with flood warnings

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As sure as night follows day, a week of unbridled sunshine and sweltering temperatures turned into that most British phenomenon – a heatwave flood warning.

As sure as night follows day, a week of unbridled sunshine and sweltering temperatures yesterday turned into that most British phenomenon – a heatwave flood warning.

After a weekend in which temperatures reached 29C (90F), a system of thunderstorms from Spain swept over the south of England, producing a biblical deluge of more than an inch of rain. Officials wasted no time informing the British public of their next trial by fickle climate.

The Environment Agency's National Flood Warning Centre, perhaps frustrated at spending the past week under sunny skies, practically fell over itself to announce a new peril. Jim Haywood, the nation's flooding tsar at the centre, said: "Summer floods are more common than many people think. They are most frequently the result of intense thunderstorms which means they can be severe."

The Meteorological Office confirmed that the storm front had caused localised flooding, with Liscombe, on the Devon-Somerset border, seeing 14mm of rain in six hours. Only northern England and the Midlands avoided the downpours.

To the sound of beaches rapidly emptying, temperatures fell from their Honolulu-beating weekend high to a more sedate 20C (68F).

Motoring organisations advised drivers to test their brakes and keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead. And forecasters warned that the storms would get worse at the weekend, with Sunday "set to be horrendous".

Which all meant that the other weather phenomenon of yesterday – showers of red dust blown in from the Sahara – passed almost unnoticed. One crestfallen weatherman said: "The heavy storms quickly washed most of it away."

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