Chaos for thousands of holidaymakers as dozens of flights at Gatwick are axed due to thunderstorms

Holidaymakers have been hit with fresh travel nightmares as thunderstorms and torrential rain caused dozens of flights to be axed as thousands of passengers were left stranded on the tarmac at Gatwick Airport for hours.

Jetsetters are having to endure more chaos as the airport cancelled 45 flights that were scheduled to arrive, and at least 24 flights departing from the airport have been delayed, with dozens more saying ‘enquire airline’.

Dozens of frustrated passengers took to Twitter to vent their disappointment with the latest cruel blow to their holiday plans, while others fumed that they would miss transfers and connecting flights owing to the delays.

Air passengers travelling to London claim their easyJet, Wizz Air and British Airways flights have been cancelled at short notice due while others report they have been left waiting in the airport for hours with no communication.

Gatwick said that weather disruption across the continent had caused ‘high volume disruption’ which had a ‘knock on effect’ throughout the day.

Heavy downpours and thunder rocked the south east of England on Wednesday, causing London Victoria and other stations to flood amid warnings of a ‘danger to life’ caused by fast-flowing and deep floodwater.

Commuters in London battled through extreme conditions to get home after the intense downpours which significantly disrupted public transport by closing tube stations and submerging sections of the M25 and A406.

Yellow and amber warnings were put out for huge parts of England and Wales by the Met Office. Torrential showers across swathes of the country left roads swamped, drains deluged and people trying to keep floodwaters at bay – with footage showing one man desperately sweeping water away with a broom. 

Holidaymakers have been hit with fresh travel nightmares as thunderstorms and torrential rain caused dozens of flights to be axed as thousands of passengers were left stranded on the tarmac at Gatwick Airport for hours

Jetsetters are having to endure more chaos as the airport cancelled 45 flights that were scheduled to arrive, and at least 24 flights departing from the airport have been delayed, with dozens more saying 'enquire airline'

Jetsetters are having to endure more chaos as the airport cancelled 45 flights that were scheduled to arrive, and at least 24 flights departing from the airport have been delayed, with dozens more saying ‘enquire airline’

(Stock photo) Torrential rain and thunderstorms have cancelled dozens of flights due to arrive into Gatwick yesterday, while Brits have been hit with hours of delays trying to jet off on holiday

(Stock photo) Torrential rain and thunderstorms have cancelled dozens of flights due to arrive into Gatwick yesterday, while Brits have been hit with hours of delays trying to jet off on holiday

Three young women sprint for cover after getting caught in the rain in north London this afternoon

Three young women sprint for cover after getting caught in the rain in north London this afternoon

Twitter user Mahadi waited on a plane for three hours before being informed it was cancelled, she said: ‘Can you send buses to get us of this b****y plane!? We’re just sat here. The staff are being told they don’t know how long the wait will be. WE HAVE BEEN HERE FOR 4 HOURS’

One woman told MailOnline: ‘I’m currently sat on the tarmac in Sicily waiting to take off home to Gatwick. We are almost two hours late already. We have been told that the flight is not allowed to take off on advice from air traffic control at Gatwick. 

‘The pilot has been told to stay put for at least two hours due to bad weather at Gatwick.’

Mark Thewlis tweeted: ‘We’ve been sat on the plane at Palermo Airport for over three hours and they just told us they are cancelling our flight now because of bad weather at London Gatwick.’

The Met Office issued an amber alert for thunderstorms covering parts of England from Chichester to Ipswich and including London, Brighton, Essex and all of Kent. There could be as much as 30-50mm (one to two inches) of rain falling in the region in less than an hour, causing ‘flooding and disruption’.

Heavy rainfall has been lashing down in London for hours and more is expected across the South East, the amber thunderstorm warning is in place until 10pm.

Several underground stations are currently closed due to flooding: Earl’s Court, Loughton and Turnpike Lane. Tottenham Hale and Victoria (no District and Circle line) are part closed while the London Overground is also running a part suspended service. 

The Environment Agency urged people not to drive though flood water, warning it is often deeper than it looks and ‘just 30cm’ of flowing water is enough to make a car float. 

A car drives through a roads under water in Brent Cross after flash floods hit London

A car drives through a roads under water in Brent Cross after flash floods hit London

The other side of the road is not accessible due to the deep water

The other side of the road is not accessible due to the deep water

A police car has its lights on before the floodwater to warn other motorists not to drive through

A police car has its lights on before the floodwater to warn other motorists not to drive through

A family were forced to break a window and abandon their car after trying to drive through a flash flood

A family were forced to break a window and abandon their car after trying to drive through a flash flood

The BBC reports that Holbeach in Lincolnshire received 146.2mm of rain in the 24 hours up to 9am this morning – representing 38 per cent of total rainfall in the area this year. 

Train services in East Anglia have been cancelled affecting thousands of passengers after one of the busiest main lines was closed by floods this morning.

Greater Anglia reported that due to heavy rain services running on the busy London to Ipswich and Norwich will be cancelled or revised adding that the disruption will last until further notice.

Network Rail says the flooding at a level crossing means that trains are unable to run between these stations. The organisation tweeted this afternoon that its weather alarms are going off in Kent and East Sussex, leading to trains going at a slower speed.

Flooding was reported at London Victoria station this afternoon after the capital was hit by a downpour of torrential rain

Flooding was reported at London Victoria station this afternoon after the capital was hit by a downpour of torrential rain

A woman tries to leap over puddles during torrential rain and lightning and thunder in North London Highgate yesterday

A woman tries to leap over puddles during torrential rain and lightning and thunder in North London Highgate yesterday

An elderly man crosses the road this afternoon during heavy downpour in north London

An elderly man crosses the road this afternoon during heavy downpour in north London

People cross London Bridge during a heavy rainfall earlier on Wednesday morning

People cross London Bridge during a heavy rainfall earlier on Wednesday morning

A shop keeper sweeps the water out of his property in Waltham Forest while wearing plastic bags around his shoes

A shop keeper sweeps the water out of his property in Waltham Forest while wearing plastic bags around his shoes

A Met Office graphic shows the path of torrential rain across the south east of England this afternoon

A Met Office graphic shows the path of torrential rain across the south east of England this afternoon

Rain stops play on the opening day of the first Test match between England and South Africa at the Lord's cricket ground in London this afternoon

Rain stops play on the opening day of the first Test match between England and South Africa at the Lord’s cricket ground in London this afternoon

People walk during a heavy rain downpour on Clapham Common, following a long period of hot weather

People walk during a heavy rain downpour on Clapham Common, following a long period of hot weather

People hold umbrellas during a downpour of rain in central London this afternoon

People hold umbrellas during a downpour of rain in central London this afternoon

A woman extends her hands while enjoying the rainfall on the Millennium Bridge in central London

A woman extends her hands while enjoying the rainfall on the Millennium Bridge in central London

One local made the most of the London rain and took to the streets for a photoshoot in Tottenham Court Road in north London

One local made the most of the London rain and took to the streets for a photoshoot in Tottenham Court Road in north London

The woman posed in the rain-drenched street while her friend took stylish pictures

The woman posed in the rain-drenched street while her friend took stylish pictures 

After weeks of sweltering weather, the Met Office's yellow thunderstorm warning of torrential rain has come to pass in London this afternoon

After weeks of sweltering weather, the Met Office’s yellow thunderstorm warning of torrential rain has come to pass in London this afternoon

A woman holds an umbrella during a downpour of rain in London yesterday

A woman holds an umbrella during a downpour of rain in London yesterday

Two women put their hoods up while walking along the River Thames this afternoon

Two women put their hoods up while walking along the River Thames this afternoon

A man uses a bag for shelter as he crosses the road, as torrential rain and thunderstorms hit the capital

A man uses a bag for shelter as he crosses the road, as torrential rain and thunderstorms hit the capital 

A young boy looks out over the River Thames as the capital is hit with torrential rain this afternoon

A young boy looks out over the River Thames as the capital is hit with torrential rain this afternoon

Trains are travelling at a reduced speed in parts of south east England as a result of yesterday's heavy downpour

Trains are travelling at a reduced speed in parts of south east England as a result of yesterday’s heavy downpour

The yellow weather warning includes the whole of the south of England and reaches as far away as Leicester and Cardiff, where flooding and travel chaos is also highly likely. 

A hospital even urged patients have even been urged to avoid an A&E department after its building was flooded. Bassetlaw Hospital in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, said that heavy rainfall meant ‘water was able to get into a few parts of the building’.

The hospital said in a Facebook post that colleagues were ‘hard at work’ fixing the problem. 

Hospital staff said: ‘Please note, we continue to ask local people in Worksop to only attend the Emergency Department at Bassetlaw Hospital if your need is urgent or life-threatening.

‘Due to the rain yesterday, water was able to get into a few parts of the building which colleagues are hard at work fixing – work we hope to finish soon.’

Storm and flooding stories 

Do you have any photos or stories of flooding and storms? Send them to tips@dailymail.com

In the South West, parts of Cornwall and Devon have been hit hard, with dramatic scenes of torrential showers and flash flooding on roads in Newquay, Cornwall, Bishop’s Tawton, Devon, and Haywards Heath in West Sussex.

In Dorset people used buckets and makeshift containers to try to divert flash floodwater away from a restaurant in West Bay, while workers in Winchester were yesterday seen clearing a drain grid on a swamped road.

Streets were flooded in Port Talbot, Wales and in Loughborough, the Morrisons supermarket car park was flooded.

Volunteers rushed to save books from being ruined after a Waterstones bookshop was flooded in Swansea. Bookshelves were soaked when storms hit the store in in a torrential downpour.

Staff videoed rain pouring through the ceiling – with empty shelves and dozens of wet books on the floor.

In a Twitter post, they said: ‘With sincere apologies, we are now closed.

‘A lovely moment amongst the carnage – loads of customers rushing over to help us save the books (which we had to refuse for safety reasons, but thank you!) Normal service will (hopefully) be resumed soon.’

However experts have warned that it would take ‘weeks’ of heavy rainfall to help parts of the country recover from the driest July on record and the driest first half of the year since 1976, as the ground will struggle to absorb the water and surface run-off causes flooding.

This means wildfires are still a possibility on the ‘tinderbox dry’ land Britain has been left with.

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

Last night a huge fire ripped through a field near Buckley Hill Road in Bootle, Merseyside, with fire crews from Buckley Hill and Kirkby called at at 9.35pm to reports of a ‘major wildfire’, with witnesses worried about the Shy Lowen Horse and Pony Sanctuary, the Liverpool Echo said.

Scotland was hit by travel disruption across rail networks and on roads after torrential overnight rain, including flooding at Perth station.

In Combe Florey, between Minehead and Taunton in Somerset, the A358 remained closed yesterday afternoon after a mudslide on Monday night. Workmen removed more than 100 tons of mud and potatoes sliding in from nearby fields.

A police van drives through flooded streets in Stoke Newington, north east London, following torrential weather this afternoon

A police van drives through flooded streets in Stoke Newington, north east London, following torrential weather this afternoon

A woman shelters under her jacket during rainfall in north London

A woman shelters under her jacket during rainfall in north London

Cars drive through flooding in Gants Hill, east London, this afternoon

Cars drive through flooding in Gants Hill, east London, this afternoon

Rain covers protect the wicket this afternoon as rain stops play during the first day of the test match between England and South Africa at Lord's cricket ground in London

Rain covers protect the wicket this afternoon as rain stops play during the first day of the test match between England and South Africa at Lord’s cricket ground in London

Cricket fans watching the test match between England and South Africa in London were forced the get out their umbrellas as rainfall stopped the sport

Cricket fans watching the test match between England and South Africa in London were forced the get out their umbrellas as rainfall stopped the sport

After a dry start to the day, heavy rains brought disruption to London this afternoon, including the test match between England and South Africa at Lord's cricket ground

After a dry start to the day, heavy rains brought disruption to London this afternoon, including the test match between England and South Africa at Lord’s cricket ground

The Met Office warned of severe flooding in parts of England and Wales, particularly in the south-east of England

The Met Office warned of severe flooding in parts of England and Wales, particularly in the south-east of England 

A cyclist is soaked as she braves the torrential rain in Sheffield as thunderstorms and flash floods batter Britain

A cyclist is soaked as she braves the torrential rain in Sheffield as thunderstorms and flash floods batter Britain 

Massive waves crash into the seafront at Sunderland as the extreme weather rages across the UK

Massive waves crash into the seafront at Sunderland as the extreme weather rages across the UK 

DORSET: A dogwalker gets a soaking in Burton Bradstock in Dorset during torrential rain from a thunderstorm which caused flash flooding

DORSET: A dogwalker gets a soaking in Burton Bradstock in Dorset during torrential rain from a thunderstorm which caused flash flooding

LONDON: A man runs across the Millennium Bridge in London on Tuesday after getting court in a sudden downpour of rain

LONDON: A man runs across the Millennium Bridge in London on Tuesday after getting court in a sudden downpour of rain

WINCHESTER: A man tries to clear a drain grid during flooding in Winchester yesterday as parts of the country are hit by heavy rain

WINCHESTER: A man tries to clear a drain grid during flooding in Winchester yesterday as parts of the country are hit by heavy rain

SOMERSET: Workers have had to remove more than 50 tonnes of mud and potatoes yesterday following the mudslide on the A358 in Somerset

SOMERSET: Workers have had to remove more than 50 tonnes of mud and potatoes yesterday following the mudslide on the A358 in Somerset

DORSET: Locals and visitors join together to try to clear floodwater away from Seagulls restaurant at West Bay in Dorset yesterday

DORSET: Locals and visitors join together to try to clear floodwater away from Seagulls restaurant at West Bay in Dorset yesterday

NORTH WALES: Thomas Davies stepped into his back garden to test out his phone's camera during thunderstorms near his home in Rhyl, north Wales, on Sunday evening

NORTH WALES: Thomas Davies stepped into his back garden to test out his phone’s camera during thunderstorms near his home in Rhyl, north Wales, on Sunday evening

CORNWALL: A downstairs deluge cascades down steps at St Mabyn in Cornwall during torrential downpours of rain on Tuesday

CORNWALL: A downstairs deluge cascades down steps at St Mabyn in Cornwall during torrential downpours of rain on Tuesday

Bassetlaw Hospital in Nottinghamshire asked people to stay away from its A&E if possible after the building flooded

Bassetlaw Hospital in Nottinghamshire asked people to stay away from its A&E if possible after the building flooded 

Storm clouds gather over Peterborough in Cambridgeshire as the UK braces itself for more thunderstorms this week

Storm clouds gather over Peterborough in Cambridgeshire as the UK braces itself for more thunderstorms this week  

CORNWALL: The wet weather helped form a waterspout alongside the south coast of Cornwall over a tour boat in Fowey Harbour, creating a vortex (pictured on Tuesday)

CORNWALL: The wet weather helped form a waterspout alongside the south coast of Cornwall over a tour boat in Fowey Harbour, creating a vortex (pictured on Tuesday)

The Met Office warning reads: ‘Whilst some places will miss them, thunderstorms and areas of heavy rain will develop quite widely on Wednesday across central, southern and eastern parts of England and southeast Wales.

’20-30 mm of rain is possible within an hour, but where areas of thundery rain become slow-moving, some places could see 60 mm in less than three hours.

‘A few spots could see more rainfall than this still, whilst hail and lightning may be additional hazards.’ The Environment Agency had issued 29 flood alerts by Tuesday night.

The heaviest downpours on Tuesday were at Spadeadam in Cumbria, with 25.4mm of rain, and in Trengwainton House, Cornwall, with 18.4mm, the Met Office said.

Footage and photos shared to social media showed torrential rain and floodwater sweeping through towns across southern England and Wales, including Newquay in Cornwall, Bishop’s Tawton in Devon, Haywards Heath in West Sussex, Port Talbot in south-west Wales, and Bridport in Dorset.

Amid the weather warnings, Britons have been urged to prepare a ‘grab bag’ of essentials in case of flooding as torrential rain and thunderstorms hammer parts of the country, causing mudslides while deluging rail lines and streets.

Firefighters said people should prepare a flood kit, with those living in basement flats or low-lying properties particularly at risk as the heatwave ends with a bang – and up to two inches of rain falling in three hours today.

The National Flood Forum said a flooding ‘grab bag’ should contain insurance and other important documents, mobile phones and chargers, emergency cash and credit cards, and any medication or prescription forms.

The London Fire Brigade said people should be ‘prepared and know what to do should a flood occur’ and ‘use sandbags to limit the water flow and move belongings to a higher level’. The Met Office said people living in ‘low-lying properties’ should make sure their valuable items are ‘ready to go’, or ‘on a higher level of your house’.

Met Office yellow flash flood warning for Wednesday

 Met Office yellow flash flood warning for today highlights the south east and parts of northern England as being at risk

Last night a huge fire ripped through a field near Buckley Hill Road in Bootle, Merseyside, with fire crews from Buckley Hill and Kirkby called at at 9.35pm to reports of a 'major wildfire' (pictured)

Last night a huge fire ripped through a field near Buckley Hill Road in Bootle, Merseyside, with fire crews from Buckley Hill and Kirkby called at at 9.35pm to reports of a ‘major wildfire’ (pictured)

The guidance will apply to millions of people – with Environment Agency the estimating that 5.2million homes in England, or one in six properties, are at risk of flooding. This includes 2.4million at risk from rivers and the sea, 1million of these also susceptible to surface water flooding and a further 2.8million at risk of surface water alone. 

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: ‘(F)lash flooding causing use of sandbags to prevent water in house, despite recent flood work by @EnvAgency urgent need for solutions.’

ScotRail imposed speed restrictions on some routes on Tuesday, while in Perth, Network Rail said it dealt with flooding at the station.

Wednesday is the fourth day in a row of thunderstorm warnings in the UK and it leaves communities in areas like Sussex, Kent and Hampshire braced for possible heavy downpours.

Met Office forecaster Simon Partridge said that ‘heavy thundery showers could develop in warm muggy air’ and ‘there could be some high totals (of rainfall), particularly if you see some heavy thunderstorms come in one after another’.

People in northern regions should be able to enjoy a day that feels fresher, a little cooler and is mostly dry – with some sunny spells.

Mr Partridge said: ‘The ground has been so baked dry because of the heat and the lack of rain for a number of days. When the rain has come, it has been hitting ground that is completely dry and baked dry like concrete.

‘It is running off than more traditionally. If there is some moisture in the ground, it is a lot easier for it to soak up the rain that hits it. We have probably a higher run-off rate for the rainfall than we would normally have.

‘It is almost like all the fields have been tarmacked because the water has been running off them as there has been so little of it that has gone into the ground.’

Vehicles drive along the very wet M25 near Swanley in Kent yesterday as heavy rain creates surface spray and reduces visibility

Vehicles drive along the very wet M25 near Swanley in Kent yesterday as heavy rain creates surface spray and reduces visibility

Locals and visitors join together to try to clear floodwater away from Seagulls restaurant at West Bay in Dorset on Tuesday

Locals and visitors join together to try to clear floodwater away from Seagulls restaurant at West Bay in Dorset on Tuesday

The A358 in Somerset has been closed at Combe Florey on Tuesday after a huge mudslide that has caused chaos for local motorists

The A358 in Somerset has been closed at Combe Florey on Tuesday after a huge mudslide that has caused chaos for local motorists

Met office spokesman Stephen Dixon said parts of the country could see up to 50mm of rain within three hours: ‘We have got thundery showers possibly for a lot of people in the UK. 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.

‘That risk of thunderstorms will move to southern areas of the UK as the day goes on.’ Mr Dixon said this risk will continue throughout Wednesday.

‘Early on Thursday morning, the main risk that we are looking at is for the South East. The risk then decreases as the day goes on.’

And the National Flood Forum charity warned that the UK remains ‘reactive and not proactive’ about flood risk even though flooding had become a regular pattern for the country.

Speaking to LBC’s Nick Ferrari, Heather Shepherd, the charity’s flood recovery specialist, said: ‘Flooding has definitely increased. We see it now as a regular pattern every year.

‘I still think we are quite reactive and not proactive. As soon as flodding’s not in the headlines we tend to be a bit too laid back.’

Miss Shepherd also said that ‘building like mad everywhere’ was increasing the risk of floods, as ‘a lot of [building] is on places where water had space and it no longer has. It overwhelms our drainage infrastructure.’

Meanwhile, swimmers have been urged to stay out of Cumbria’s Lake Windermere because of a potentially toxic algae covering the water’s surface.

While the heatwave has now technically ended after eight days on Tuesday, it remains very warm in much of the UK with highs of 22C (71.6F) in London, Brighton and Exeter yesterday, 25C (77F) across the south on Thursday and 23C (73.4F) on Friday,

A fireman from Dorset and Wiltshire fire crew help pump some of the water out of the road with their fire engine after torrential rain and thunderstorms caused flash flooding on Tuesday

A fireman from Dorset and Wiltshire fire crew help pump some of the water out of the road with their fire engine after torrential rain and thunderstorms caused flash flooding on Tuesday

The Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue crew were successful in removing some of the flooding, allowing motorists to use the junction (pictured on Tuesday)

The Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue crew were successful in removing some of the flooding, allowing motorists to use the junction (pictured on Tuesday)

Vehicles drive along the very wet M25 near Swanley in Kent yesterday as heavy rain creates surface spray and reduces visibility

Vehicles drive along the very wet M25 near Swanley in Kent yesterday as heavy rain creates surface spray and reduces visibility

A couple go for a walk in the sea under an umbrella off the almost deserted beach of Weymouth in Dorset yesterday morning

A couple go for a walk in the sea under an umbrella off the almost deserted beach of Weymouth in Dorset yesterday morning

Commuters walk over London Bridge on Tuesday morning as heavy rain hits the capital following the heatwave

Commuters walk over London Bridge on Tuesday morning as heavy rain hits the capital following the heatwave

Two young women shelter under an umbrella as they walk over Millennium Bridge in London during heavy rain yesterday afternoon

Two young women shelter under an umbrella as they walk over Millennium Bridge in London during heavy rain yesterday afternoon

Three people take a selfie under umbrellas as they stand on Millennium Bridge in London during heavy rain on Tuesday afternoon

Three people take a selfie under umbrellas as they stand on Millennium Bridge in London during heavy rain on Tuesday afternoon

People walk over London Bridge yesterday morning as heavy rain hits the capital following the heatwave

People walk over London Bridge yesterday morning as heavy rain hits the capital following the heatwave

People walk through London in the rain yesterday

People walk through London in the rain yesterday

People walk through London in the rain yesterday – and while some of them came prepared with umbrellas, others did not

Flooding on rail lines near Perth in Scotland yesterday, where speed restrictions have been imposed on routes due to heavy rain

Flooding on rail lines near Perth in Scotland yesterday, where speed restrictions have been imposed on routes due to heavy rain

A bride and groom shelter from the rain under an umbrella during their wedding photos in Central London yesterday afternoon

A bride and groom shelter from the rain under an umbrella during their wedding photos in Central London yesterday afternoon

Tourists wearing rain ponchos walk through Westminster yesterday during heavy rain after the prolonged dry spell

Tourists wearing rain ponchos walk through Westminster yesterday during heavy rain after the prolonged dry spell

The flash floods emerge after a drought was declared last week in eight areas of England including Devon and Cornwall, Kent and south London.

Several water firms – including Welsh Water, Southern Water and South East Water – have already imposed hosepipe bans to tackle the shortage.

South West Water was the latest company to announce restrictions in Cornwall which will kick in on August 23.

Yorkshire Water’s ban will start on August 26 and Thames Water has said it is planning one but has not confirmed the date.

A £1,000 fine could be imposed on anyone who breaks the ban but water companies have not said if they have pressed for prosecutions in the past. 

Met Office spokesman Stephen Dixon said that thunderstorms and heavy rain is likely to hit parts of Scotland as well as areas of the South West and East of England.

He added that up to two inches of rainfall – almost a month’s worth of rain – could fall in just three hours in some parts.

A Morrisons car park in Loughborough was submerged in flood water after the torrential rain and storms

A Morrisons car park in Loughborough was submerged in flood water after the torrential rain and storms

A man leaps over a puddle as shoppers rush through a heavy downpour in London yesterday afternoon

A man leaps over a puddle as shoppers rush through a heavy downpour in London yesterday afternoon

He added: ‘That being said, it is quite hard to pinpoint exactly where these thunderstorms will crop up. Some areas will miss the showers completely.

‘But, where they do come down, there could be some impacts like surface water flooding – with the rain obviously hitting dry land –travel disruption and power cuts affecting homes and businesses.’

And Met Office meteorologist Greg Dewhurst warned that the bad weather conditions could pose difficulties for those hoping to travel and urged people to stay up to date with developments in their local area.

‘We’ll see some very heavy showers develop over the coming days, hail, frequent lightning, some flash flooding is possible like we’ve seen in places yesterday so our advice is to stay tuned to latest forecasts and local radio stations as well, to get the latest information,’ he said.

‘It is worth being aware that there could be disruptions or delays to travel.’

He added: ‘It will be in turns fairly breezy as we end the week, with some showery rain, particularly across the north of the UK, so temperatures generally around average for many but could possibly be a bit above for the far south, which is the mid-20s.

A car drives through floodwater on the B3157 coast road at Burton Bradstock in Dorset during torrential rain yesterday

A car drives through floodwater on the B3157 coast road at Burton Bradstock in Dorset during torrential rain yesterday

Cars on a flooded road in Winchester yesterday as thunderstorms hit the country this week after the recent heatwave

Cars on a flooded road in Winchester yesterday as thunderstorms hit the country this week after the recent heatwave

A car drives through floodwater on the B3157 coast road at Burton Bradstock in Dorset during torrential rain yesterday

A car drives through floodwater on the B3157 coast road at Burton Bradstock in Dorset during torrential rain yesterday

A tractor works to clear A358 in Somerset yesterday after it was closed at Combe Florey following the mudslide last night

A tractor works to clear A358 in Somerset yesterday after it was closed at Combe Florey following the mudslide last night

A tractor works to clear A358 in Somerset yesterday after it was closed at Combe Florey following the mudslide last night

A tractor works to clear A358 in Somerset yesterday after it was closed at Combe Florey following the mudslide last night

Two people look at Tower Bridge in the rain under an umbrella yesterday morning as downpours return to the capital

Two people look at Tower Bridge in the rain under an umbrella yesterday morning as downpours return to the capital

Now London is set for a hosepipe ban: Thames Water will tell 15million people not to water gardens or wash their cars in days – bringing UK total to 24million 

The year’s biggest hosepipe ban yet is set to be confirmed for London and the Thames Valley later this week, before coming into force from next week – affecting 15million people across the Thames Water region.

Thames Water had already warned last week that it was planning a ban in the ‘coming weeks’, and this is now set to be confirmed by the end of this week. It will be the year’s biggest temporary usage ban so far in population size.

Meanwhile another hosepipe ban was announced yesterday, with Cornwall and parts of Devon becoming the next area of the UK to face temporary restrictions when South West Water brings in the policy in a week’s time.

Four water companies – Manx Water, Welsh Water, Southern Water and South East Water – have already imposed bans, while Yorkshire Water said one will start on August 26. 

It comes after a drought was declared for parts of England following the driest summer for 50 years that has almost completely deprived some areas of rainfall.

The hosepipe bans will soon cover a total of more than 24million people – including 5million in Yorkshire (Yorkshire Water) 2.2million in Kent and Sussex (South East Water), around 1million in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight (Southern Water), another 1million in Cornwall and part of Devon (South West Water), 200,000 in Pembrokeshire and a small part of Carmarthenshire (Welsh Water) and 80,000 on the Isle of Man (Manx Water). 

South West Water announced on Monday that it will be imposing its own ‘temporary use ban’ restrictions from midnight on August 23, with bosses saying this will be the firm’s first ban in more than a quarter of a century.

The ban means customers cannot use any hosepipe including sprinklers, dripper hoses and automatic irrigation systems for watering the garden or plants; cleaning a car, walls, paths or patios; or filling a pool, pond or fountain.

However they can still do any of these activities if they use mains water from a bucket or watering can, or use water that is not sourced from the mains such as greywater or rainwater from a water butt through a hosepipe.

‘It looks probably most likely from late Wednesday to Thursday onwards it will become fresher for everyone.’

Professor Hannah Cloke, an expert in hydrology at the University of Reading, warned that the parched soil increased the risk of ‘dangerous’ flooding.

She said: ‘The ground is really dry and when it is so dry it acts a little bit like concrete and that water can’t get in so it drains straight off. There is the damage to homes and businesses these floods can cause, and inconvenience with transport disruptions –but if it is very heavy in one place it can also be very dangerous.’

On how it could affect cities like London, she said: ‘If you get heavy rain in a city, the drainage system can cope up to a point. But if there is really heavy rain it can overwhelm the system – the rain cannot run away quick enough.

‘Water tends to find the lowest pathway – that is why it is so dangerous for cities with these surface area floods. That is why it is of concern to the Tube and underground car parks and things like that.’

‘If we are in London and the parks are really, really dry, there is nowhere for the water to run so it is exacerbating the risks we already have in cities.’

In rural areas, Professor Cloke said flooding often hits low points in roads and under bridges.

Also yesterday, Ofwat chief executive David Black has defended targets set for water companies as ‘challenging but achievable’.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme and asked if the targets set for leaks are tough enough, Mr Black said: ‘Yes, we set challenging but achievable targets for water companies, leakage being one of them.

‘So at the last price review we challenged the sector to reduce leakage by 16 per cent and the latest information we have shows that 13 out of 17 companies (are) on track to deliver that in the first two years.’

He added: ‘I can point elsewhere in the (targets) regime where fewer companies are succeeding, so for example on pollution incidence less companies are successful.

‘So we have set challenging targets and in fact at the last price review four out of 17 companies appealed our determination. So they thought the determination was too tough, and one of their contentions was that the targets were too challenging.’

Mr Black also said that overall, the water supplier sector ‘has underperformed against the price review’.

He told the BBC: ‘Where companies are falling short on leakage they will incur penalties on that. It may be that they are outperforming the regime elsewhere. But overall the sector as a whole has underperformed against the price review thus far into the period.’

Mr Black added: ‘So far to date the sector hasn’t succeeded in earning the – if you like – these standard rates of return.’

He said: ‘We certainly agree that customers should get better service and expect better service and that’s why we have set performance targets that aim in every case to drive better performance from companies.

‘There are some companies like Thames Water which have been repeated poor performers and we have taken action against them and other companies.’

Asked if he thinks there is nothing wrong with the system, Mr Black said: ‘No, I think that companies like Thames and Southern really need to up their game. I think it’s very concerning that other companies that may be performing better in the sector it casts a long shadow when we see poor performance.’

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