Thunderstorm warning issued as UK braces for hottest day of the year

The Met Office has issued a thunderstorm warning for Friday afternoon as the UK braces itself for what may be the hottest day of the year.

Temperatures are expected to reach a blistering 36C (96F) in Greater London but will be short lived.

The Met’s “yellow warning” is valid from 4pm until midnight across large parts of east and south-east England where the weather will be at its hottest.

This includes chances of gusty winds, hail and “frequent lightning strikes” which could cause slight damage to buildings.

The Met said that, although a large amount of rain is unlikely, some places may experience heavy downpours and receive as much as 15-20 mm of rain in less than an hour.

The storms will be caused by hot air moving in from mainland Europe, some parts of which will be cooler than the UK.

Popular tourist spots on the continent including Ibiza, Lisbon and Berlin are expected to reach 33C (91.4F), 30C (86F) and 25C (77F) respectively, compared to areas of Kent and Cambridgeshire where the mercury will rise to around 33-34C (93.2F).

The thunderstorms will quickly be followed by cooler weather caused by a weather front moving in from the West, dashing any chances of a UK heatwave.

The Met said the front will result in temperature drops of up to 10C overnight with highs of 26C (78.8F) and 21C (69.8F) in London and Manchester respectively, on Saturday.

The short spike of hot weather comes at the end of a below average July temperature-wise.

The UK average temperature for July is currently on course to be just 14.1C (57.4F), one degree less than the 1981-2010 long-term average of 15.2C (59.4F).

Britain surpassed 100% of its average monthly rainfall and only experienced two thirds (66%) of the expected sunshine for an average July, a total of 113.4 hours, data from the Met shows.

“We’ve not seen a temperature anywhere above 30 so far or even with a three in it, that is quite unusual for July,” a Met spokesman said.