Flash floods have left a town underwater as torrential rain and thunderstorms sweep across Wales.
Parts of Britain face more than two months’ worth of rain in just three hours today as forecasters said the ten-day heatwave will continue until at least Friday, bringing temperatures of up to 99F (37C) this afternoon.
At least three people have now died in the water over the past 24 hours – a 60-year-old man in Clacton, Essex, this morning, and a woman in her 30s in Waxham, Norfolk, and a 12-year-old girl in Balloch, Scotland, both yesterday.
The UK is experiencing an extraordinary period of scorching weather, with the mercury now having been above the official heatwave level of over 82F (28C) since last Wednesday – and a level three heat health alert in place.
A high of 91F (33C) was recorded at East Malling in Kent at 1pm this afternoon, which is the UK’s hotspot so far today. Maximums of between 93F (34C) and 99F are now expected every day from today until Thursday, before temperatures are expected to dip on Friday to 82F – however, this will still be above the heatwave threshold.
But while much of southern and eastern England continues to enjoy the very hot weather on beaches and in parks, forecasters warned thunderstorms would strike across the Midlands this afternoon and North West tonight – after hitting the South West this morning, with a ‘worst-case scenario’ of up to six inches (150mm) of rain later today.
Thunderstorms have brought flash flooding and power cuts to parts of Wales. Mid and West Wales Fire Service said it had attended eight flooding incidents in Aberystwyth on Monday
This would be more than twice the 2.8in (70mm) average for the month of August – with heavy rainfall already reported across Devon and Cornwall, and areas including Birmingham and Cumbria facing a deluge later.
Further thunderstorms are expected for the rest of this week until at least Thursday, with the Met Office admitting there is ‘significant uncertainty in location and timing’ as it covered the whole country in a four-day warning.
It follows the deaths of at least three people in waters around Britain over the past 24 hours, including:
- This morning, the body of man in his 60s was pulled from the sea near Clacton Pier in Essex at 10.30am, with the air ambulance landing on the beach. Police were treating his death as unexplained but not suspicious.
- A mother in her 30s drowned at Waxham at about 5.30pm yesterday after jumping into the sea to rescue her son and his friend who had got into difficulty in a sea kayak after being caught out by the strong current.
- Also yesterday, a three-hour search from 6.45pm for a missing child in the water in the west of Scotland in the River Leven, near Balloch Bridge, ended with police finding the body of talented 12-year-old dancer Ava Gray.
Meanwhile a coastguard rescue team is searching in Blackpool for a 17-year-old girl who is feared to have gone missing after going into the water at the Lancashire resort in the early hours of yesterday. Some blood was found on the town’s North Pier but police are not yet sure whether this is related to the teenager’s disappearance.
Meteorologists now expect Britain to have the second longest run of consecutive 90F (32C) days on record. While the period is unlikely to get close to the 15 days in 1976, it is expected to beat the second-placed five days in 1995.
The record for the longest spell of 95F (35C) is three days – set in 1976 and 1990 – which this week could match. And the UK has only had heat of 98F (36.7C) on four days in history, one of which was recorded only 11 days ago.
Thermometers got up to at least 93F (34C) in parts of South East England on both days of the weekend just gone, following the joint ninth hottest day in UK history last Friday when 97.5F (36.4C) was recorded in West London.
The heatwave threshold is three days over 82F in London and 77F (25C) in most other parts of the UK. However, after days of scorching temperatures, large swathes of the UK will be hit by severe thunderstorms this week.
Forecasters at MetDesk said it could be ‘potentially the biggest UK thunderstorm outbreak in years’. The UK could also see its highest number of lightning bolts in one day, with the record of 110,000 in a day set in June 2012.
As the most prolonged period of hot August weather for 17 years continues, the forecast comes as:
- Authorities struggled to keep people away from Britain’s overcrowded beaches amid social distancing issues;
- South East Water urged customers to put away their hose pipes, garden sprinklers and garden water toys;
- In Southend, a child had suspected hypothermia after being spotted clinging to a dingy 300 yards out to sea;
- HM Coastguard dealt with the highest number of call-outs in one day for more than four years at the weekend.
But while the heat carries on, the Met Office has warned that homes and businesses could be hit by flash flooding as up to six inches of rain falls in only three hours, with the further risk of lightning, hail and strong winds.
Beachgoers soak up the sun at Bournemouth in Dorset this afternoon as daytrippers and tourists head to the coast
Visitors to Bournemouth beach in Dorset enjoy the very hot weather this afternoon as the heatwave continues
Holidaymakers, families and beachgoers bask in the sunshine on the beach at the Dorset seaside resort of Lyme Regis today
Beachgoers soak up the sun at Bournemouth in Dorset this afternoon as people flock to coasts across the country
The beach is busy with holidaymakers and sunbathers at the seaside resort of West Bay in Dorset this afternoon
Beachgoers enjoy a day out in Bournemouth, Dorset, today as many Britons choose staycations over holidays abroad
People stand on Hengistbury Head overlooking Southbourne beach in Dorset this morning as the hot weather continues
The heat is still on but the Met Office – which has issued a broad yellow weather warning covering much the UK from Monday to Thursday – says where there are thunderstorms ‘they could be significant and disruptive’.
Yesterday was ‘another hot day’ in southern England, where temperatures reached 93.2F (34C) at Herstmonceux, East Sussex, and 92.8F (33.8C) at both London Heathrow Airport and Gosport in Hampshire, the Met Office said.
Met Office forecaster Bonnie Diamond told how the thunderstorms over the next few days ‘could pop up pretty much anywhere, due to the combination of exceptionally high temperatures and unstable air’.
Three deaths on Britain’s coasts within 24 hours
Ava Gray, 12, was praised as a ‘dancing angel’ following her death in Balloch, Scotland
10.30am: Body of man in his 60s is pulled from the water in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex. Police are treating the death as unexplained but not suspicious
6.45pm: Body of Ava Gray, 12, is found following a three-hour search in the water in the River Leven, near Balloch Bridge in Scotland
5.30pm: Mother in her 30s drowned at Waxham in Norfolk after jumping into the sea to rescue her son and his friend who had got into difficulty in a sea kayak
She added: ‘Torrential rain could lead to flash flooding, with the additional hazards of lightning and large hail.’
She continued: ‘There is a pretty broad warning in place today, but there is another for central UK – the Midlands up to the North West of England to about Cumbria, and into Wales – which we are watching really closely.
‘We are looking at the potential for some thunderstorms there from about 4pm to the early hours. It’s a worst-case scenario – a caution, really, for what could happen – but we are looking at a potential for 150mm (6in) rain in three or four hours.
‘Normally for August you’re looking at around 70mm (2.8in) for the month, so it’s potentially a lot of rain. To get that much it will take some areas seeing frequent thunderstorms, and not just passing through.’
Ms Diamond said there had been some thunderstorms in the South West of England this morning, while temperatures across the country remain humid, particularly in the South East.
She said: ‘Things can change at short notice, and the thunderstorms can come on quite quickly, so people may want to monitor the up-to-date forecasts and our Twitter feed to make sure they don’t get caught out.’
Caroline Douglass, flood duty manager with the Environment Agency, said heavy thunderstorms this week ‘could lead to surface water and river flooding in some communities’ from this afternoon into tomorrow morning.
She said: ‘Isolated flooding is also possible more widely across England today through until Thursday due to further heavy thunderstorms.’
The Environment Agency warned that flooding could happen suddenly by day or night, and there may also be travel disruption in some areas this week.
Yesterday, a mother drowned in front of her son and his friend after leaping into the sea to save them when they got into difficulty in a kayak at Waxham in Norfolk.
The woman, who was in her 30s and has been named locally as Danni, was pulled lifeless from the water after being caught out by the strong current. Horrified onlookers tried in vain to resuscitate her before paramedics took over, but she was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.
The tragedy happened at about 5.30pm on Sunday, while the beach was packed with sun-lovers on one of the hottest days of the year. The beach and nearby Sea Palling are notorious for having dangerous riptides which can sweep away unsuspecting swimmers.
Two people enjoy going on a zip wire on Bournemouth beach in Dorset today as the very hot weather continues
People enjoy the hot weather by beach huts on Mudeford sandbank in Dorset this morning amid the UK heatwave
Visitors spread themselves out across Bournemouth beach in Dorset today as people continue to descend on coasts
A woman walks her dog through Hyde Park in London this morning at the start of another very hot day for much of Britain
A man swims near a gull at Hampstead bathing ponds in North West London this morning amid the very hot weather
A woman lowers her face mask and uses a fan on the Jubilee line on the London Underground this morning
Joggers go for a run in the morning sunshine on a parched Wimbledon Common in South West London today
People go for a walk in the sunshine at St James’s Park in London this morning as the heatwave continues in the capital
Sophie Golland, 18, looks out among the sunflower fields at Vine House Farm near Baston in Lincolnshire this morning
Witnesses have suggested that the woman jumped into the water to help her son and his friend after they got into difficulty.
Meanwhile a 12-year-old girl who died after getting into difficulty in a river in Scotland yesterday has been praised as a ‘dancing angel’ and an ‘amazing’ child.
How Britain’s ten-day heatwave is unfolding
- Wednesday – 83.1F/28.4C (Santon Downham, Suffolk)
- Thursday – 86.2F/30.1C (Wisley, Surrey)
- Friday – 97.5F/36.4C (Kew, West London)
- Saturday – 94.1F/34.5C (Herstmonceux, East Sussex)
- Sunday – 93.2F/34C (Herstmonceux, East Sussex)
- Today – 99F/37C (forecast)
- Tomorrow – 97F/36C (forecast)
- Wednesday – 97F/36C (forecast)
- Thursday – 91F/33C (forecast)
- Friday – 82F/28C (forecast)
The body of Ava Gray was pulled last night from the River Leven in the West Dunbartonshire village of Balloch following a three-hour search.
Police Scotland officers were called to the scene at the foot of Loch Lomond at about 6.45pm yesterday, but the search ended with Ava’s body being recovered from the water at 9.45pm.
Last night dance teacher Holly Douglas paid tribute to Ava on Facebook, saying: ‘My dancing angel, I am heartbroken.
‘Words can’t describe the way I feel, Ava. We all love you so, so much. You will never be forgotten at Full Out.
‘You will always be part of our team and our family. The world is a cruel place, thinking of all the family right now. Ava, I love you so, so much.’
Meanwhile the search was on today in Blackpool for a 17-year-old girl who is feared to have gone missing after going into the sea in the early hours of yesterday.
A coastguard rescue team was called out to the beach and she was not found despite extensive searches of the area. Some blood was found on the North Pier but police have yet to determine if it’s related to the teenager’s disappearance.
Officers are now appealing for witnesses who may have seen the girl around 4.20am on Sunday or later. The girl is described as having long, dark hair and was wearing dark jeans, a dark grey top and possibly dark trainers.
Separately, on Saturday, a woman died after a crash between a jet ski and a boat on the Menai Strait in North Wales.
As Britain continued to swelter yesterday, authorities across the country struggled to keep people away from overcrowded beaches.
Road closures were put in place in Dorset in a last-ditch attempt to divert visitors from Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door, with a family who had travelled more than six hours from Birmingham among those turned away.
By midday in Bournemouth, where beachgoers camped in tents overnight on the sand or slept in their cars to retain a space, most of its 24 beaches were placed on red alert.
Car parks along the south coast of England are packed again today, including this one at West Bay in Dorset this afternoon
A woman lays out a Union Jack towel on Bournemouth beach in Dorset today as the very hot weather continues
A jogger makes her way through Hyde Park in London this morning as the heatwave continues for much of Britain
Beachgoers soak up the sun in Bournemouth today with temperatures continuing to soar above 90F in parts of England
A woman enjoys sitting on a bench in the sunshine at St James’s Park in London this morning
People walk their dogs in the early morning sunshine at Wimbledon Common in South West London today
A cyclist riding with a dog in the early morning sunshine on a parched Wimbledon Common in South West London today
People exercise in the early morning sunshine at Wimbledon Common in South West London today
Dawn over the New Forest in Hampshire this morning at the start of another very hot day for much of the country
The warning, which means that social distancing rules are not possible, was accompanied by a threat by the council to clamp illegally parked cars, with all of the area’s beach car parks full.
Top ten UK temperatures recorded in UK history
- 101.7F/38.7C – July 25, 2019
- 101.3F/38.5C – August 10, 2003
- 100F/37.8C – July 31, 2020
- 98.8F/37.1C – August 3, 1990
- 98.1F/36.7C – July 1, 2015
- 98.1F/36.7C – August 9, 1911
- 97.9F/36.6C – August 2, 1990
- 97.7F/36.5C – July 19, 2006
- 97.5F/36.4C – August 7, 2020
- 97.5F/36.4C – August 6, 2003
Seaside towns across the country are already busier than usual due to the surge in staycations caused by the coronavirus crisis.
Thanet District Council said Ramsgate Main Sands beach in Kent was ‘extremely busy’ yesterday, with high tide likely to make social distancing difficult.
In Southend, Essex, a child was taken to hospital with suspected hypothermia after being spotted clinging to a dingy 300 yards out to sea.
On Saturday, HM Coastguard dealt with 340 incidents across the whole of the UK – the highest number of call-outs in a single day for more than four years.
The Coastguard co-ordinated search and rescue responses to a wide range of incidents, including people being cut off by the tide and children swept out to sea on inflatables.
In total, the service rescued 146 people and assisted a further 371. There were a further 335 incidents on Sunday.
South East Water urged its customers to put away their hose pipes, garden sprinklers and garden water toys as it said that a spike in demand had left some people with low pressure or no water.
It said it has been pumping an additional 150 million litres of water around its network, the equivalent of 27 million additional toilet flushes, to keep up with demand over the summer.
They put the increase in water use down to more people being at home and taking up DIY and gardening projects during the rise in staycations.
Twitter users told of their despair as they found last night too hot to sleep amid the very high overnight temperature
The Met Office said the heatwave is the most prolonged period of hot August weather for 17 years.
Coastguard warning over lifejackets after kayak rescue off Devon coast
Coastguards have warned people to wear life jackets if going out on the sea, after kayakers needed rescuing off the Devon coast.
RNLI lifeboats in Ilfracombe were deployed on Sunday after a number of kayakers got into trouble near Combe Martin. Three kayakers had been taken aboard other local boats, and one of them was not wearing a lifejacket or wetsuit.
He had also lost his kayak, which had blown away in the breeze. Another two kayakers had been escorted back to the beach by a separate boat.
RNLI volunteer coxswain Andrew Bengey said: ‘If you are going out on to the water on any leisure craft we would advise that you speak to local people to understand the conditions in the area and also check the tide timetables and weather forecasts before heading out.
‘We would always urge people to wear buoyancy aids or lifejackets when venturing out on the water and carry a means of calling for help.’
Met Office forecaster Craig Snell said: ‘For England and Wales over the next four days, there is a risk of some very severe weather in places but it is not going to be everywhere.
‘Away from the thunderstorms, it is still going to be very hot. It is not going to be wall-to-wall sunshine, but it is not going to be a washout each day.’
The weather warning means there is a risk of torrential rain, hail, frequent lightning and strong gusty winds in much of England and Wales if intense thunderstorms break out.
Downpours could see totals of 1.2in (30mm) to 1.6in (40mm) of rainfall in an hour, with some locations potentially receiving up to 6in (150mm) in three hours.
The Met Office added that these would be fairly isolated incidents.
Regarding today, Mr Snell said: ‘The warning does not imply that everyone is going to see them (thunderstorms) – a lot of places will remain dry, sunny and hot – but we will see some fairly severe thunderstorms developing over the course of the day.’
Western areas may be more at risk of thunderstorms than regions in the east, but anywhere in the warning area could be struck – and most parts will stay dry, he stressed.
The sunshine is still set to hit the south east and there will be ‘a high chance of 36C’ (97F) in the region.
Friday saw the hottest August day in 17 years, with temperatures hitting 97.5F (36.4C) at Heathrow and Kew Gardens in West London.
Mr Snell said: ‘We started this run of 30C days on Thursday, and Monday will be the fifth day where we will have those temperatures down in the south eastern quarter of the UK.’
Scotland and Northern Ireland may have a lesser risk of seeing thunderstorms on Thursday as temperatures start to fall away.