13 Jun 2016

Thunderstorms, lightning and flood risk to continue

Whilst the past week has seen some warmth and sunshine across much of the UK, there’s also been plenty of thunderstorms, giving frequent lightning and intense downpours of rain.

The slow-moving nature of the heavy showers and thunderstorms has meant that some places have been inundated with a lot of rain in a short space of time, causing flash flooding.

With the potential for more thunderstorms and localised flash flooding during the next few days, I thought I’d explain what’s going on.

UK, London, Thunder and lightening above Canary Wharf

What’s causing the thunderstorms?

In the world of weather, to get clouds to form and rain to fall, air needs to rise upwards in the atmosphere. The more readily air rises, the bigger the clouds and the heavier the rain.

At the moment, and for the rest of the week, a very slow-moving area of low pressure will be over the UK, which means air can readily rise upwards through the atmosphere.

Also, there is some warm, moist, humid air across us at the moment. Moist, humid air acts as a source of energy in the atmosphere – in the form of latent heat – providing fuel on which thunderstorms can thrive.

Where is most at risk?

During the next few days, England and Wales are most at risk from thunderstorms and intense downpours of rain.

The Met Office has issued a yellow “be aware” warning, highlighting the places most at risk, where 15-25mm could fall in just an hour.


Such intense rain will bring a risk of localised flash flooding – especially in urban areas where there is a lot of man-made surfaces, such as tarmac and concrete.

The Environment Agency’s three-day flood risk forecast also emphasises the risk in the coming days, mentioning the risk of travel disruption and isolated property flooding.

Scotland and Northern Ireland will see some showers, but thunderstorms look less likely here, so the risk is lower.

Hit and miss

Despite England and Wales being at greatest risk from seeing thunderstorms in the coming days, it is Flood damage / insurance riskworth remembering that they are hit and miss – much like showers.

Once place might have a deluge of rain with flash flooding, whereas another location just 5-10 miles away will stay dry and have nothing at all.

So the main message is that whilst a few places will get a lot of rain in a short space of time, most places will avoid the worst of the downpours.

Don’t forget, you can get the latest forecast on the Channel 4 Weather website. You can also send me your weather pictures on Twitter – @liamdutton

Tweets by @liamdutton

2 reader comments

  1. Lauran Hughes says:

    Hello and good morning! Yesterday’s match at Euro 2016 between Ukraine and Northern Ireland was halted briefly due to torrential rain and hailstones the size of garden peas coming down like mad! Luckily, matchplay resumed 3 minutes later and Northern Ireland won 2-0! I just saw it on the news right now and it was wild and wacky weather, my goodness! I heard of hailstones going down like that before but this is ridiculous! By the way, goodbye for now and keep up the good work!

  2. Lauran Hughes says:

    A very good morning to you all! I have just read the papers this morning and read the pages about the flash floods in Rhyl and Birmingham yesterday and by golly were they terrible? Residents in Rhyl woke up to devastation yesterday morning when they find out half of their town was underwater after heavy rain caused rivers to burst their banks, flooding homes and businesses! The floods in Birmingham ,though, are much worse with many people forced to get out of their homes after they were flooded! I just wanted to tell you about this new form of bad weather which hit yesterday but today the weather is much better in Wrexham! It was dull at first this morning then it started to brighten up later in the morning with the sun coming out! Well that’s it for today and I’ll see you soon, goodbye!

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