UK weather: Devon and Cornwall hit by heavy rain and flooding

·4 min read
<span>Photograph: Steff Gaulter/PA</span>
Photograph: Steff Gaulter/PA

Flooding has hit parts of the UK as official warnings for rain and thunderstorms remained in place for much of the country, while a drought has been formally declared in Yorkshire.

The Environment Agency placed Yorkshire into drought status, joining eight other areas of England declared dry on Friday.

The Agency said the recent rainfall would not be enough to correct weeks of dry weather, adding it would take more prolonged rainfall to wet soils and replenish rivers, reservoirs and groundwater levels.

Heavy showers caused flooding in areas of Cornwall and Devon on Monday, which was under an amber-level Met Office warning at the time, while thunderstorms developed in east-coast counties including Essex, Suffolk and Lincolnshire.

The Environment Agency has put out 16 flood alerts in areas of south London, Surrey, Norfolk, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire.

The National Flood Forum charity said the UK was still “reactive and not proactive” about flood risk even though flooding had become a regular pattern for the country.

Speaking to Nick Ferrari on LBC, Heather Shepherd, the charity’s flood recovery specialist, said: “Flooding has definitely increased and certainly the length of time that I’ve been working in flood risk, and we see it now as a regular pattern, don’t we, every year.

“I still think we are quite reactive and not proactive. As soon as it’s not in the headlines, flooding, we tend to be a bit too laid back.”

She also said “building like mad everywhere” was increasing flood risk, as “a lot of that is on places where water had space and it no longer has. It overwhelms our drainage infrastructure. And we’re seeing more and more urban flooding.”

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Yellow warnings for thunderstorms and rain remained across much of the UK on Tuesday and southern England on Wednesday.

Scotland has already been hit by travel disruption on rail networks and roads after heavy rain.

ScotRail told passengers to expect delays on some routes, with some speed restrictions in place, while in Perth, Network Rail said it was dealing with flooding at the station.

The warnings came after a second significant heatwave in England and Wales, a phenomenon that will become increasingly frequent due to the effects of climate breakdown.

On Tuesday, Greater Manchester police (GMP) said the body of a 14-year-old girl had been recovered from water in Greater Manchester after a “devastating” incident, prompting police to urge people to keep safe in hot weather.

Emergency services were called to reports of a person getting into difficulty in the water near Crowswood Drive in Stalybridge, Tameside, shortly before 6.30pm on Monday. On Tuesday, GMP announced that her body had been recovered overnight.

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

A cyclist rides through the rain in central London on Monday evening.
A cyclist rides through the rain in central London on Monday evening. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

The rain is likely to 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 remain fairly dry.

Greg Dewhurst, a Met Office meteorologist, said: “Temperatures will be lower, looking at highs of around 27C [80.6F] 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.”

Dewhurst said 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.

“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.”

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

Ruan Sims, the manager of the HiQ Tyres and Autocare garage on the roundabout, said the road had flooded in the past but he had never seen the water that high.

He said water flooded in suddenly as the rain started but fully drained away about 10 minutes later and the sun came out.

“It was quite mad. We have never seen it go that high,” he said.