'Pack an emergency bag': Brits warned to prepare for flash floods as thunderstorms set to batter UK

16 August 2022, 06:42 | Updated: 16 August 2022, 15:19

People in the UK are being told to prepare emergency bags after some regions were hit by flash floods on Tuesday
People in the UK are being told to prepare emergency bags after some regions were hit by flash floods on Tuesday. Picture: Alamy/Getty/Met Office

By Daisy Stephens

Brits are being told to prepare an emergency bag as the UK is set to be battered by thunderstorms after a long period of dry weather.

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The Met Office has warned of flash floods 'within an hour' when heavy rain falls on hard, dry ground.

People in flood-prone areas are being told to prepare a bag containing mobile phones, a battery-powered charger in case power is interrupted, a torch and important information such as insurance documents.

The National Flood Forum says bags must also include emergency cash and cards, any medication or repeat prescription forms, anything needed for childcare, and a first aid kit.

People are also being told to make sure valuables are stored high above ground.

Truro in Cornwall flooded as heavy rain follows heatwave

Newquay suffers flash flooding as rain follows heatwave

The Met Office issued an amber thunderstorm warning for areas of Cornwall, Devon and Somerset - with the likely chance of homes and businesses flooding, power cuts, and transport chaos.

Yellow warnings are also in place for most of the UK on Tuesday and for southern England on Wednesday.

Footage shared to social media showed a roundabout near the river in Truro, Cornwall quickly flooding with water on Monday afternoon as showers moved in.

The torrential downpours also prompted a mudslide in a Somerset village.

The A358 was still closed on Tuesday as a result.

It comes after weeks of little rain and warm conditions have caused droughts across parts of the UK, leaving land parched.

The National Drought Group on Friday moved parts of the South West, southern and central England, and the east of England into official drought status - while six water companies have already or are planning to impose hosepipe bans.

Heavy showers caused flooding in areas of Cornwall and Devon on Monday afternoon while thunderstorms developed in east-coast counties like Essex, Suffolk and Lincolnshire.

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Hail, frequent lightning and flash flooding is possible in areas further south, with heavy rain predicted across England and Wales on Tuesday.

The rain will likely later become more concentrated in southern parts of England.

Downpours are expected across Scotland on Tuesday but will gradually clear as the day goes on, while Northern Ireland will be the driest.

Flooding in Tullow, Co Carlow in the Republic of Ireland on Monday night
Flooding in Tullow, Co Carlow in the Republic of Ireland on Monday night. Picture: Alamy

Met Office meteorologist Greg Dewhurst said: "Temperatures will be lower, looking at highs of around 27C as a maximum temperature, but it will still be on the humid side (on Tuesday).

"Thundery showers across central and southern parts of England on Wednesday and temperatures will be around 26C as a maximum."

Mr 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 today 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."

Members of staff at The Milky Way amusement park in Devon clearing out floodwater inside the premises on Monday
Members of staff at The Milky Way amusement park in Devon clearing out floodwater inside the premises on Monday. Picture: Alamy

But flash floods and thunderstorms hitting parts of the UK over the coming days will give way to breezier weather by the end of the week, forecasters have said.

The fresher conditions, expected from late Wednesday onwards, will no doubt come as a relief to many after scorching temperatures over the weekend were quickly followed by heavy downpours and ongoing humidity.

Mr Dewhurst said: "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.

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

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Read more: Mayor of London 'seriously concerned' about possible flash floods in London

A few days of rain won't 'scratch the surface' of the drought

Earlier, Professor Hannah Cloke, an expert in hydrology at the University of Reading, explained why there is the potential for floods in drought-hit areas.

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."

Explaining why this heavy rain will not alleviate drought-hit areas, she said: "It's a drop in the ocean really. It is not soaking into the soil which is how we really need it. We need it back into the system where it can be stored.

"We really need a long winter of rain to replenish this."