Met Office issues thunderstorm alert as flash floods and mudslides cause chaos across the UK

The Environment Agency has put out 19 flood alerts in areas of the Midlands and south-east England

Published

Roads in areas of Cornwall and Devon have flooded as heavy rain and thunderstorms hit parts of the UK for the second day running.

The Met Office issued a yellow thunderstorm alert for England and Wales on Tuesday, warning of more flash flooding as well as transport disruption and power cuts.

The weather warning will stay in place on Wednesday for southern England, where communities could be cut off by flooded roads, and the chance of fast-flowing or deep floodwater could cause danger to life.

The Environment Agency has put out 19 flood alerts in areas of the Midlands and south-east England.

Flooding on Marcus Hill in Newquay
Flooding on Marcus Hill in Newquay

It comes amid an abrupt end to the heatwave last week and follows weeks of little rain, which has caused drought and left land parched.

Authorities moved Yorkshire to official drought status on Tuesday, following parts of the South West, southern and central England and the East of England.

Experts said heavy rainfall runs off very dry land, creating surface water floods, and will not soak into the ground to relieve drought-hit areas.

Footage and photos shared to social media showed torrential showers and flooding on roads in Newquay, Cornwall, and Bishop’s Tawton, Devon, and Haywards Heath in West Sussex.

A woman uses a magazine to shelter her hair from the rain as she crosses Westminster Bridge in London
A woman uses a magazine to shelter her hair from the rain as she crosses Westminster Bridge in London

One Twitter user shared a video of floodwater in Newquay, writing: “I’ve never seen rain like this. Our road is flooding #Newquay.”

Another Twitter user in Bishop’s Tawton, north Devon, said: “Flash flooding causing use of sandbags to prevent water in house, despite recent flood work by @EnvAgency urgent need for solutions.”

Scotland has also seen travel disruption on rail networks and roads on Tuesday following heavy showers.

ScotRail warned passengers to expect delays on some routes, with some speed restrictions in place, while in Perth, Network Rail said it was dealing with flooding at the station.

Local authorities in Somerset said more than 50 tonnes of mud have been shifted off the A358 after a mudslide at Combe Florey on Monday, adding that the road was set to reopen between 3pm and 4pm.

Heavy rainfall hit parts of the UK for a second day running on Tuesday
Heavy rainfall hit parts of the UK for a second day running on Tuesday

Meanwhile, swimmers have been warned of sewage and pollution at several beaches on English coastlines, linked to the heavy rain.

According to data gathered by environmental campaign group Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), there has been storm sewage discharge into the waters at beaches in Cornwall, Devon, Sussex, Essex, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Northumberland and Cumbria.

A spokeswoman for SAS said other pollution warnings in place may not be linked to heavy rain, and those visiting the coast are advised to check its interactive map on their website before they swim.

Met Office spokesman Stephen Dixon said: “We have got thundery showers possibly for a lot of peoples of the UK today.

“Within the warning area, it is important to note that thunderstorms could pop up anywhere. That being said, some areas could miss the rain altogether.”

Mr Dixon said parts of the country could see up to 50mm of rain within three hours.

He said storms likely to appear in areas of the Midlands could be “slow moving”, adding: “That risk of thunderstorms will move to southern areas of the UK as the day goes on.”

Mr Dixon said this risk will continue overnight and throughout Wednesday.

“Early on Thursday morning, the main risk that we are looking at is for the South East,” he said.

“The risk then decreases as the day goes on.”