Households have been urged to pack ‘grab bags’ of valuables and supplies as three million homes are at risk of flooding in the coming days.
This summer’s second prolonged heat wave came to an abrupt end on Monday as thunderstorms slammed some areas with nearly two inches of rain.
Forecasters this week warned of an ‘incredible deluge’ after the driest July on record and the driest first half of the year in decades caused droughts in parts of the UK, leaving the country parched.
The Met Office issued a yellow thunderstorm warning for most of the country Monday and Tuesday as conditions could cause flash flooding, transportation disruptions and power cuts.
It remains in place for southern England on Wednesday, where communities could be cut off by flooded roads and the potential for fast-flowing or deep floodwaters could be life-threatening.
More than three million homes in England are vulnerable to surface water flooding, the Environment Agency estimates, with 300,000 more in Wales and Scotland.
People who live in ‘low-rise buildings’ need to ensure that their valuables are ‘ready to use’, or ‘on a higher level of your home’, due to the current high flood risk.
Speaking to Sky News, Met Office meteorologist Clare Nasir said: ‘For low-lying properties, which may have been built on a floodplain, there is indeed a risk of property flooding.
“Get all your documents, whether it’s your cell phone, your passport, etc., all those things you don’t want to be damaged by flooding and have them ready for use or on a higher level of your home.”
She added that the downpours tonight and this morning are “the wrong kind of rain we need for the ground” because the ground is too hard to absorb it.
The meteorologist continued: ‘What we’re looking for is some kind of sustained rain, moderate rain, rather than this incredibly intense eruption, which is currently moving up over more southerly areas of England.
“So we’re not out of the woods yet.”
Heavy showers caused flooding in parts of Cornwall and Devon on Monday afternoon, while thunderstorms developed in east coast counties such as Essex, Suffolk and Lincolnshire.
Meteorologist Tom Morgan said most places remained dry during the day but added: ‘There are parts of the country that have seen mostly heavy showers today, in the south west of England.
“We have seen some flooding in parts of Cornwall and Devon,” he said, adding that there have been “very difficult driving conditions, flash flooding, some hail with the thunderstorms and some lightning.”
He said the floods also “create the potential for power outages and some possible flash flooding, particularly in cities and more urban areas.”
“There are also thunderstorms in areas on the east coast in Suffolk, Essex and Lincolnshire,” he said, but added they are not expected to have a significant impact causing difficult driving conditions.
Mr Morgan continued: ‘There is just as much potential [Tuesday] to be as impactful as today.’
Flood warnings had also been issued for parts of west London near the Thames, including Richmond, Chiswick and Putney, but they have since been withdrawn.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said on Monday: “We learned a lot from last year in July, when flash flooding was caused by a massive amount of rain – two months of rain – in just a few hours and people’s homes were busted and public transport was under water.
“Speaking to the Met Office, the Environment Agency and many others, we are concerned that we could see a massive amount of rain in a short space of time in the coming days that could lead to flash flooding.
‘I have written to tens of thousands of Londoners living in houses prone to flash flooding.
My message to Londoners is to please contact Floodline, visit your council’s website to see what you can do to reduce the chance of flooding, but also minimize the impact on you. ’ he said, advising people to also check if they are insured and what those details are, as well as prepare a grab bag.
Mr Khan said: ‘[We are] working closely with the water utilities, fire brigade, Transport for London, local councils and other partners to ensure we are as ready as possible, but the bad news is that flash flooding can occur if there is heavy rain for a short period of time falls of time.’
Earlier, Professor Hannah Cloke, an expert in hydrology at the University of Reading, explained why there is a risk of flooding in drought-stricken areas.
She said, ‘The ground is really dry and when it’s that dry it acts a bit like concrete and that water can’t get in, so it runs right off.
“There’s the damage to homes and businesses that these floods can cause, and the disruption of transportation, but if it’s very heavy in one place, it can also be very dangerous.”
On how it can affect cities and towns, she said: “If you get a heavy rainstorm in a city, the drainage system can cope to some extent, but if there’s really heavy rain, it can overwhelm the system – the rain.” can’t run away. soon enough.’
In rural areas, Prof. Cloke said this type of flooding often affects low points in roads and under bridges, adding: “It is very dangerous to drive through floodwaters.”
She explained why this heavy rain will not relieve drought-stricken areas, saying: ‘It really is a drop in the ocean. It doesn’t penetrate the ground and that’s how we really need it.
“We need it back into the system where it can be stored. We really need a long rainy winter to replenish this.’
Meanwhile, Christine Colvin, director of advocacy and engagement at the Rivers Trust, said there is a risk that people will not take the drought seriously in the coming days “just because it rains.”
“We want people to keep this rainfall in context and as part of the bigger picture, and the bigger picture is that we’ve actually still had an incredibly dry year, as well as a dry summer, and continued rain will be needed to replenish our supplies.” supplement,” she said.
“Just because it’s raining doesn’t mean the drought is over.
“It seems very counterintuitive, but continued rain will be needed to replenish the supplies we actually use, namely the aquifers and managed storage in our reservoirs.”
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