UK heatwave: Storms sweep in as temperatures cool


Heavy thunderstorms are sweeping across the UK, leading to travel problems in parts of the country.

Rail passengers on the East Coast mainline faced major disruption after lightning strikes damaged signalling.

Temperatures have cooled compared with recent days after downpours, hail and strong winds hit areas of the UK.

Storms are expected to continue overnight, with a yellow weather warning in place for the east of England and Scotland.

Forecasters had predicted the UK's all-time record of 38.5C could be topped on what some people were calling "Furnace Friday" - but those estimates were toned down following overnight storms.

The Met Office said 34.7C was recorded in Tibenham, Norfolk, on Friday but the early development of thunderstorms had suppressed temperatures and kept them below Thursday's high of 35.3C.

A Met Office yellow warning for thunderstorms remains in place for the east of England until 02:00 BST and the east of Scotland until Saturday afternoon.

Delays and disruption

Damage to signalling equipment meant trains between York and Leeds were unable to run for several hours, causing dozens of cancellations.

London North Eastern Railway (LNER) - which operates between London King's Cross and northern Scotland - had advised passengers not to travel during the day.

It said all lines had reopened but services were "still subject to change and delay".

Image caption,
Stranded commuters at Leeds railway station scan the information boards for developments

TransPennine Express, Northern and Cross Country services were also affected, with passengers being urged to check before they travel.

British Transport Police said officers held back dozens of passengers trying to get on platforms at Leeds station.

It said people should "avoid travelling for a few hours" because services are at a standstill across the Yorkshire region.

And Network Rail said speed restrictions remained in place for some Chiltern Railways, Northern and Greater Anglia services, amid fears high temperatures could cause the tracks to expand and "buckle".

There were also delays of over two hours for Eurotunnel passengers in Kent, after issues with air conditioning in carriages.

Eurotunnel said it had taken an "unprecedented decision" to cancel thousands of day trip tickets for Friday to ease the long queues.

Gatwick Airport said nearby thunderstorms had led to minor delays to some flights.

Media caption,
UK weather: Storm in Doncaster caught on camera

Singer Sir Tom Jones was forced to cancel a concert at York Racecourse on Friday evening after thunder and lightning prevented him from flying from his London home to the venue.

A statement from the racecourse said: "The decision was taken after it proved impossible to get Sir Tom to the racecourse given the atrocious weather conditions."

Motorists were warned that heavy rainfall could lead to dangerous conditions on the road.

A spokesman for the Met Office said spray and surface water meant "roads like the M11, M18, M1 and A1 won't be very pleasant".

Some people in London have been welcoming Friday's rain after weeks of hot and dry weather.

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Thursday was the hottest day of the year so far with a high of 35.3C recorded in Faversham, Kent - the highest in the UK since 2015.

Meanwhile, firefighters in Wales have been battling wildfires across the country, with the biggest on Twmbarlwm mountain, Caerphilly, still burning two weeks after it began.

UK temperature records

Image source, EPA
  • 2017 record - 34.5C
  • 1976 heatwave record - 35.9C
  • All-time July record - 36.7C
  • UK all-time record - 38.5C

Those enjoying the water were urged to take care by police, following a number of incidents, including:

  • Thames Valley Police said a man's body was recovered from the Jubilee River in Slough
  • In Warwickshire, police searching for a 17-year-old boy who went missing while swimming in the Bishops Bowl Lakes area found a body
  • In Essex, the search for a missing teenager last seen on Clacton Pier on Thursday evening has resumed
Image source, PA
Image caption,
Ilkley Lido in West Yorkshire became a popular place for children to cool off

Conditions over the weekend are expected to be cooler, with the possibility of more rain, strong winds and more average temperatures for the time of year - either in the high teens or low 20s.

But the forecast currently predicts more hot weather later next week.

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