Thunderstorms and lightning strike as Britain braces for heatwave

Large swathes of Britain have experienced storms and lightning strikes as the country braces for what could be its hottest day ever later this week.

Thunderstorms moved into southern and western areas late on Tuesday evening, with the Met Office issuing a yellow severe weather warning for most of England, Wales and Scotland until 9am on Wednesday.

The Met Office said there was a “small chance” of damage to property from lightning strikes, hail or strong winds and driving conditions could be affected by spray and standing water.

Surrey Police tweeted a video of what it called “a great lightning show” as some Twitter users tweeted to say they had been woken up by the thunderstorms.

It comes after temperatures across England exceeded 30C (86F) on Tuesday.

In Kent, where the temperature soared to 32C (89.2F), more than 100 firefighters, 20 fire engines and a variety of specialist support vehicles worked to control a fire on the Lydd Ranges.

In London, meanwhile, police were searching for three people who have gone missing in the River Thames.

The Metropolitan Police said a swimmer went missing at Shadwell Basin on Tuesday evening, a second at Waterloo Bridge and a third near Kingston High Street.

The South Wales Fire and Rescue Service warned people not to leave fans on overnight, or if they are out of the house.

Other hotspots on Tuesday included Cardiff and Watnall, Nottinghamshire, where the mercury rose to 30C (86F).

Met Office forecaster Luke Miall said temperatures in London are expected to reach 38C (100.4F) on Thursday, which would pass the current record for a day in July – 36.7C (98.1F) – recorded at Heathrow Airport in 2015.

“There is now a 40% chance of going over the UK temperature record of 38.5C (101.3F), which was recorded in Faversham, Kent, in August 2003,” he said.

“The coolest areas will be Northern Ireland and western Scotland. Although it will still be quite warm, it will be in the low 20s rather than the 30s like other areas.”

Train company Southeastern said it would be running a “significantly reduced service” on Thursday due to speed restrictions announced by Network Rail.

Southeastern operates trains in south-east London and Kent and also serves parts of East Sussex.

Dr Sam Hampton, a post-doctoral research associate at the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, advised people to wear “lighter, loose-fitting clothing before cranking up the air conditioner”, adding that: “If necessary, air-conditioners should only be run when all the windows are closed.”

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