UK weather: Met office issues first ever thunderstorm warning as heatwave continues

Forecasters have warned heavy rain could cause homes and businesses to flood and danger to life

Chiara Giordano
Saturday 30 June 2018 23:58
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UK weather: The latest Met Office forecast

The Met Office has issued its first ever thunderstorm warning, with torrential rain, hail and lightning expected this weekend.

A yellow “be aware” warning for thunderstorms is in place from 6am to 10pm tomorrow for southwest England and Wales, which could see 30-40mm of rainfall in an hour.

It comes after more than a week of heatwave temperatures led water companies including Severn Trent and Northern Ireland Water to ask customers avoid using hosepipes and water sprinklers.

Meanwhile, as roads melted under the scorching sun, in some areas gritters were used to spread crushed rock dust on melting asphalt to prevent tyres from sticking.

British salad growers warned of a potential lettuce shortage. “The record temperatures have stopped the lettuce crop growing, when the mercury hits 30C lettuces can’t grow,” said Dieter Lloyd, of the British Leafy Salad Growers Association.

In Greater Manchester, fire raged on at Saddleworth Moor, leaving householders up to 10 miles away suffering oppressive heat indoors as they were unable to open windows.

Giselle Cullinane tweeted: “So not funny. Smoke from Saddleworth valley fills my house again so windows and doors closed in late 20s heat. Poaching in my own juices!”

Manchester fire service had 28 fire engines with 120 officers out on the moors, covering seven areas where tinder-dry land was burning.

Crews were inundated with donations of food and drink donated by the public, although people were asked to leave only non-perishable goods.

Elsewhere, couples and families flocked to beaches including Brighton and Bournemouth to try to cool off, with some trains to the coast packed.

The RSPCA and Gloucestershire police repeated warnings to dog owners not to leave their pets in cars, even briefly, after receiving yet more calls from people worried the animals could die.

Forecasters have warned that tomorrow there is a chance homes and businesses could be flooded quickly with damage to some buildings from floodwater, lighting strikes, hail or strong winds.

There is also a small chance of fast flowing or deep floodwater causing danger to life and some communities could become cut off by flooded roads.

The worst of the thunderstorm is likely to be felt in the afternoon, with the risk decreasing into Sunday evening.

Becky Mitchell, a meteorologist with the Met Office, told The Independent: “We’ve got a risk of heavy showers and thunderstorms across the southwest and southern Wales but they will be quite hit and miss where we do see them.

“There could be some very heavy downpours and flash flooding as well as lightning.

“This is the first thunderstorm warning we’ve issued which is part of our new system.”

The warm weather is expected to continue across the UK on Sunday, with temperatures reaching up to 30C across some central and South West portions of the country.

It is expected to be very humid and warm across the south on Sunday but fresher further north, and parts of western Scotland could turn cloudy.

“As we head into next week high pressure is still really in charge of the weather across the bulk of the UK,” said Ms Mitchell.

“The first few days of the week will have a lot of dry, fine and sunny weather with very warm temperatures in the high 20Cs, although not everywhere will see temperatures as last week.

“There’s no sign of any particularly changeable weather on the way in the near future,” the forecaster added.

“Throughout July, generally speaking, temperatures will be a little above average across the country.”

The Met Office has introduced two new types of weather warning – one for thunderstorms and the other for lightning.

They say research found many people felt there was a significant difference between the impacts of heavy rain in winter and those from thunderstorms.

Lightning warnings have been introduced to allow for those occasions where the main impact will be from lightning strikes or to enable dual warnings of snow and lightning to be issued.

They can also now issue dual warnings, such as rain and wind, if the impacts are likely to be from two weather types.

The full list of warnings is now rain, thunderstorms, wind, snow, lightning, ice and fog.

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