UK weather: torrential rain batters parts of country as storm warning issued | UK weather

Torrential downpours have battered parts of the UK, with one part of Essex being hit by more than an inch of rain in one hour.

Andrewsfield in Essex reported 36.4mm (1.43in) of rain in the early hours of Thursday as heavy showers and storms swept across the east and south-east of England.

A yellow thunderstorm warning is in place for London and the south-east, the east of England and the east Midlands until 3pm – with forecasters saying flooding is likely amid “intense downpours”.

In east London, Dagenham Heathway station was closed on Thursday morning due to flooding caused by heavy rain, while a number of exits were closed at Charing Cross station in central London.

The Met Office has warned of difficult driving conditions and some road closures due to spray and standing water. Train delays and potential loss of power and other services are also likely.

The Environment Agency has issued six alerts for areas where flooding is possible.

The warnings come after a period of dry weather that led to drought being declared across areas of England, with parched grass and struggling crops, streams drying up and river, reservoir and aquifer levels low. Hosepipe bans were brought in for millions as heatwaves pushed up demand for water.

By Wednesday, the UK as a whole had had only 46% of the average total rainfall for August.

The bank holiday is expected to be largely dry with warm sunny spells, though possibly wetter in the north-west.

Temperatures could climb to 30C (86F) or into the mid-20Cs depending on how the high pressure builds, the Met Office said. Spokesperson Grahame Madge said: “We’ve definitely switched from the hot and dry regime to something that has rain in the forecast.”

While the downpours will mean this month will “catch up a bit” with rainfall totals, he said: “It’s certainly going to be a dry August for the whole of the UK.” And he said some areas had gone without any significant rainfall from the middle of June until last week.

“We’ve had below average rainfall for such a long time, it’s going to take a period of above average rain to make it up,” he warned.

The Met Office is set to bring out its seasonal forecast for the likely conditions over the next few months next week.

It is possible for the weather to turn around: the severely dry summer of 1976 was followed by rain that meant that rainfall levels had caught up with the average by the end of autumn.

But scientists warn that the climate crisis is making weather extremes more likely, increasing heatwaves, droughts and heavy rain events that can lead to flash floods.

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