Bank Holiday Monday has proved a complete washout for much of the country. On the last bank holiday until Christmas, nearly two weeks’ worth of rain fell in swathes of South-east England and East Anglia. The South-west of England also endured similarly miserable conditions; its beaches, rather than full of holidaying families, were more a picture of abandoned grey.
At Mildenhall in Suffolk, an inch (25mm) of rain fell between 6am and 3pm. In Kent, the MeteoGroup reported that “heavy, localised rain” would pour down before spreading north.
Bookmaker Ladbrokes stopped taking bets on August being the wettest on record. The odds crashed over the course of the month to just 5/4, but spokesman Jessica Bridge said: “The odds fell as quick as the rain and we’ve been left with no choice but to pull the plug. All bets are off when it comes to remembering August as a sunny and dry month.”
In west London, the Notting Hill Carnival was considerably damp – although its joys were not diluted. After an opening day that was hardly sunny, the finale required party-goers to sport ponchos and carry umbrellas. But the festival spirit was evident despite flooding in some parts of the capital, where about half the amount of rain normally seen in an average month lashed down in 24 hours, accompanied by high winds.
The Met Office had issued yellow weather warnings for the South-east, South-west and East Anglia as people prepared for the worst. Conditions are set to improve slightly on Tuesday as millions head back to work. Forecasters warned the wet weather would continue into Monday night, but said it would begin to become drier from then on.
Laura Caldwell, of MeteoGroup, said: “The rain should clear away towards the North Sea throughout the day, leading to improvement in the south, and the weather should turn cooler and drier from Tuesday onwards.”
The Met Office’s chief scientist, Dame Julia Slingo, said: “No one can deny that we have had a pretty disappointing summer.”
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