Lightning strikes 9,000 times during ‘insane’ thunderstorm as UK hit by flash flooding

Torrential downpours left Britain facing a deluge of rainwater as the country’s roads turned into rivers

Alexander Butler
Monday 18 September 2023 15:46 BST
Passengers wade through flooded Exeter airport as heavy rain hits England

Torrential downpours during an ‘insane’ thunderstorm led to flash flooding as roads in parts of the UK turned into rivers.

Dramatic footage taken in Kenton, Devon, showed rainwater streaming down roads and into a village square as residents waded through in boots.

And in Dawlish, Devon, a bridge crossing over a river was totally submerged after the huge downpour struck the southwest of England on Sunday. This morning, sandbags could be seen stacked outside shopfronts.

Other spots saw up to 60mm of rain fall, more than half the September average for the region. There were also 9,414 lightning strikes between 6am on Sunday and 6am on Monday, the Met Office said.

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It comes after the Met Office warned more than a month’s rain could have fallen in a single day across parts of England and Wales on Sunday.

In London and Brighton, footage emerged showing “insane” thunder followed by flashes of lightning as a storm and heavy downpour battered both cities last night.

The downpour also caused widespread road closures, bus and train cancellations and the closure of Paignton Zoo, Devon. Almost a month’s rain fell on Sunday at the Birds Hill rain gauge on the edge of Exmoor.

A bridge crossing over a river in Dawlish was submerged by the heavy downpour on Sunday

Exeter Airport, Devon, also had to close after passengers were seen wading through water while queuing for the check-in-desk as flights were delayed and cancelled.

Severe weather warnings were issued for much of England and parts of Wales. An amber weather warning for thunderstorms and heavy persistent rain was put in place for Devon and Somerset.

The Met Office said thundery showers seen over the weekend will clear as a band of rain pushes east, with the weather turning increasingly windy today.

Kenton Hair Salon was left under water following the heavy downpour on Sunday which severely impacted the village

A spokesman said: “Through today thundery showers in the east will clear as a band of rain, already across the west, quickly pushes east during the morning.

“Behind this band of rain it will turn fresher with showers following during the afternoon, some of which will be heavy at times. It will also turn increasingly windy through the day.”

Meanwhile, Tuesday will see more cloud and rain, with “drier” and “brighter” spells from southern parts of the UK, according to the Met Office. “It will also remain windy for many”, the spokesman added.

“Through the rest of the week it will remain unsettled and rather autumnal with changeable conditions. There will be periods of rain which will be heavy at times, mixed with brighter and more showery spells. It will remain windy with coastal gales possible and also be cooler than of late.”

A yellow weather warning has been issued by the Met Office for Tuesday and Wednesday



A largely dry start expected but outbreaks of rain, heavy at times, are expected to move eastwards across the area from mid-morning. Becoming brighter from midday with scattered showers developing. Breezy. Maximum temperature 21 °C.

Monday evening:

Perhaps one or two showers at first, but mostly dissipating into the evening to give largely dry conditions overnight. Outbreaks of rain may arrive from the west around dawn. Breezy Minimum temperature 10 °C.


A windy day expected Tuesday with a few outbreaks of rain throughout the day. Becoming mostly dry into the evening but remaining windy. Maximum temperature 20 °C.

Outlook for Wednesday to Friday:

Remaining windy Wednesday with outbreaks of rain arriving around early evening, winds easing overnight. Sunny spells and showers expected Thursday and Friday, perhaps heavy and thundery at times

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