Met Office washout: Thunderstorms to break dangerous heat dome with intense downpour

Met Office issue yellow warning ahead of thunderstorms

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Some “intense downpours” are expected to alleviate the scorching heat currently hitting the UK, with yellow thunderstorm warnings in place for much of the country, beginning in Scotland and Northern Ireland from Sunday afternoon.

Some locations might feel grateful for some rain after England had its driest July since 1935 and an official drought has been declared in several areas.

However, the Met stressed, intense and thundery showers also bring with them the chance of some surface water flooding as large volumes of water fall onto dry ground and often fail to be absorbed.

The thunderstorm warnings will begin at midday on Sunday in Scotland and Northern Ireland, with subsequent warnings issued further south, including much of England and Wales, from early on Monday.

The alert points to the beginning of a change in the dominant weather pattern for the UK as we move into next week.

Met Office Deputy Chief Meteorologist Jason Kelly said: “The current hot weather will make way for a thundery breakdown from the west, which will spread south and east in the early part of next week.

“Ahead of this, isolated but intense thunderstorms are possible Sunday and Monday.

“The warnings highlight the chance of some places seeing around 50mm of rain falling in a three-hour period in the north, with some areas further south possibly seeing around 30mm of rain in a three-hour period.

“Hail and frequent lightning are also possible as part of these downpours and represent an additional hazard.

“We’re continuing to monitor how these thundery showers develop on Tuesday and Wednesday next week.

“There’s a chance of some quite intense downpours at times for some areas and we’re refining the likely location of these in the coming days.”

The Met Office said there is a small chance that “homes and businesses could be flooded quickly” and that some buildings could be damaged “from floodwater, lightning strikes, hail or strong winds”.

Delays and some cancellations to train and bus services should be expected in areas where flooding or lightning strikes occur, and motorists are urged to beware of spray and sudden flooding, which could lead to “difficult driving conditions and some road closures”.

There is a slight chance of power cuts could occur, the Met added, while other services to some homes and businesses might be lost.

The prospect of heavy showers comes as — although temperatures are not as high as last month — meteorologists alert of the “dangerous levels of heat” the British public is being forced under during a relatively long period.

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Sky News’ Kirsty McCabe said on Friday: “It’s the duration of the heatwave that will allow dangerous levels of heat to build up, especially in buildings and urban areas.

“The nights will be increasingly warm too, making it difficult to sleep.

“By Thursday lunchtime, parts of the UK had exceeded 30C for four days in a row, and it’s likely somewhere in the UK will be above 30C for at least a week.”

The length of such high temperatures, experts say, comes down to a so-called heat dome – when an area of high pressure remains over a region for several days or even weeks.

The dome traps hot air underneath due to high pressure from above which then keeps further warm and dry air at surface levels.

With temperatures to reach up to 37C (99F) this weekend, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) issued a Level 3 Heat Health Alert.

The agency’s Dr Agostinho Sousa, Head of Extreme Events and Health Protection, said: “We want everyone to enjoy the warm weather safely when it arrives, but remember that heat can have a fast impact on health. 

“It’s important to ensure that people who are more vulnerable — elderly people who live alone and people with underlying health conditions — are prepared for coping during the hot weather. 

“The most important advice is to ensure they stay hydrated, keep cool and take steps to prevent their homes from overheating.”

The level three alert is in force through to Tuesday.

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