HomeNewsWildfires, Heatwaves and Storms - UK Sees the Effects of Climate Change

Wildfires, Heatwaves and Storms – UK Sees the Effects of Climate Change

Wildfires could continue to break out across the UK this weekend, as the Environment Agency (EA) warns that the drought in England could persist into next year.

The Met Office has issued an amber heat warning across parts of England and Wales, as regions are braced for temperatures as high as 35C.

The alert comes as a drought was officially declared in eight regions: Devon and Cornwall, Solent and South Downs, Kent and south London, Hertfordshire and north London, East Anglia, Thames, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire, and east Midlands.

John Curtin, executive director for local operations at the EA, said that after the driest summer in 50 years, it would take “weeks’ worth of rain” to replenish water sources.

Three water companies, Welsh Water, Southern Water and South East Water, have all imposed hosepipe bans, while Yorkshire Water has announced a ban will start on 26 August and Thames Water is planning one in the coming weeks.

Dry weather is predicted to continue across the south this weekend, bringing a risk of more wildfires.

“For the rest of the weekend, across the south, there will be a continuation of the very dry and hot conditions,” the Met Office meteorologist Dan Stroud said.

“We’re looking at temperatures of up to 34C or 35C across the south, feeling a little bit fresher across the north, but temperatures up there still well above where they should be for the time of year.”

He warned: “It has been extremely dry for an extended period, and the ground and vegetation has been baked dry. So there is a significant risk [of wildfires].”

A blaze in Derbyshire has been tackled by four fire engines, while emergency services were called to put out fires in Dorset and east London.

Yellow warnings for thunderstorms will be in place on Sunday as the Met Office predicts heavy rain in most of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The stormy weather is expected to move down to England and Wales on Monday.

“The current hot weather will make way for a thundery breakdown from the west, which will spread south and east in the early part of next week. Ahead of this, isolated but intense thunderstorms are possible Sunday, Monday and Tuesday,” Met Office meteorologist Jason Kelly said.

“The warnings highlight the chance of some places seeing around 50mm of rain falling in a three-hour period in the north, with some areas further south possibly seeing around 30mm of rain in a three-hour period. Hail and frequent lightning are also possible as part of these downpours and represents an additional hazard.”

England had its driest July since 1935 this year, with the month also going down in UK climate history, exceeding temperatures of 40C on 19 July.

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UK weather: another day of heatwave before thunderstorms

Parts of the UK will have another day of sizzling temperatures before three days of yellow weather warnings for thunderstorms.

An amber weather warning for extreme heat is in place until 11.59pm on Sunday for large parts of the south, east, west, Midlands and north of England as temperatures are predicted to rise to 32C.

The Met Office has put the warning in place saying that people could experience “adverse health effects”, such as sunburn or heat exhaustion, and delays to transport during the hot weather.

In Scotland and Northern Ireland, a yellow warning for thunderstorms is in place from 9am on Sunday to 11.59pm on Monday as the north experiences a sweep of heavy rain for the next two days.

The forecaster has warned of flash flooding and power cuts as showers beat down across the two regions.

The warning then spreads to England and Wales on Monday and Tuesday, with just the south-west and south-east of England facing a third day of yellow warnings on Wednesday until 11.59pm, as the rain eases off elsewhere.

The hot weather has already led to several wildfires across England, with the latest blaze breaking out in the North York Moors national park.

North Yorkshire fire and rescue service said it was called to the blaze in Sutton Bank shortly after 6pm on Saturday and firefighters worked through the night to dampen down the grass to prevent further spread.

Met Office forecasters have said there is a significant risk of further wildfires on Sunday as the ground has been extremely dry for an extended period.

An official drought was declared in eight areas of England on Friday by the National Drought Group, which comprises representatives from the government, water companies, the Environment Agency and others.

Three water companies – Welsh Water, Southern Water, and South East Water – have imposed hosepipe bans, while Yorkshire Water has announced that a ban will start on 26 August and Thames Water is planning one in the coming weeks.

Residents in Surrey were without water on Saturday after issues hit the Netley Mill water treatment works.

Thames Water apologised and handed out bottled water to residents in Guilford, Surrey Hills, Dorking and Horsham while engineers worked to restore the supply.

By Sunday morning the problem had been fixed, with residents being told water was “gradually returning to the area”.

A statement from Thames Water said: “Problems at Netley Mill water treatment works have been fixed and supply is gradually returning to the area. We’re identifying and unblocking air pockets in the system to allow taps to flow normally. As supplies return, you may notice spluttering, cloudiness or low pressure, but this will improve.”

Liz Townsend, of Surrey county council, criticised Thames Water for the supply issues during one of the hottest weekends of the year.

She told BBC Breakfast: “This is happening more and more now with warm weather. We had this problem last year as well here. And to be honest, the service is not fit for purpose now and residents are rightly getting very, very annoyed about what they’re having to put up with.”

She said Thames Water “failed this time to meet the needs of the vulnerable as well in and around Cranleigh and Ewhurst”, after she received messages from elderly people saying they had not been delivered any water.

… we have a small favour to ask. Millions are turning to the Guardian for open, independent, quality news every day, and readers in 180 countries around the world now support us financially.

We believe everyone deserves access to information that’s grounded in science and truth, and analysis rooted in authority and integrity. That’s why we made a different choice: to keep our reporting open for all readers, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay. This means more people can be better informed, united, and inspired to take meaningful action.

In these perilous times, a truth-seeking global news organisation like the Guardian is essential. We have no shareholders or billionaire owner, meaning our journalism is free from commercial and political influence – this makes us different. When it’s never been more important, our independence allows us to fearlessly investigate, challenge and expose those in power.

UK weather: Met Office warns of ‘dangerous’ floods across country

Heavy rain and thunderstorms could cause “dangerous” flooding this week in cities and rural areas across the UK, forecasters have warned.

The Met Office has issued a yellow thunderstorm warning for most of the UK on Monday and Tuesday with the possibility of flash flooding, disruption to transport and power cuts.

The weather warning will stay in place for southern England on Wednesday, where communities could be cut off by flooded roads and the chance of fast-flowing or deep flood water could cause “danger to life”.

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The warning follows weeks of little rain, which combined with extreme heat exacerbated by climate breakdown has caused droughts across parts of the UK.

The National Drought Group on Friday moved parts of the south-west, parts of southern and central England, and the east of England into official drought status.

Welsh Water, Southern Water and South East Water have already imposed hosepipe restrictions, Yorkshire Water’s ban will start on 26 August, while South West Water will introduce a ban for Cornwall and parts of Devon on 23 August, and Thames Water said it was planning one in the coming weeks.

The Met Office spokesperson Stephen Dixon said thunderstorms and heavy rain were likely to hit more localised areas in Scotland, as well as areas of the south-west and east of England, with the potential of up to 50mm of rainfall within three hours in some places.

He added: “That being said, it is quite hard to pinpoint exactly where these thunderstorms will crop up. Some areas will miss the showers completely but where they do come down, there could be some impacts like surface water flooding, with the rain obviously hitting dry land, travel disruption and power cuts affecting homes and businesses.”

Grahame Madge, another spokesperson for the Met Office, told the Daily Telegraph: “If people know that properties may have flooded before it might be the time just to be ready – have a clear-up, put any valuables at a higher level. It could be as simple and as fundamental as that, so that if you do have to move quickly you are already halfway prepared.”

South West Water announced its hosepipe ban on Monday, the first in 26 years. The Devon and Cornwall region has had little rain for the past eight months and July was the driest for nearly a century.

Politicians and campaigners have said water company bosses should be stripped of their multimillion-pound bonuses until they fix leaks and build reservoirs.

Prof Hannah Cloke, an expert in hydrology at the University of Reading, said the heavy rain would not ease the drought conditions.

“It’s a drop in the ocean really,” Cloke said. “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.”

Robert Caudwell, the chair of the Association of Drainage Authorities (Ada), said the industry was concerned about surface water flooding but there was little it could do to help prevent it.

He said: “The problem is that with thunderstorms at this time of the year it’s very difficult to predict exactly where they are, and our members have been holding as much water in their systems as possible to try to prevent things going dry, for the environment and farmers who want to irrigate.

“So the last thing we want to do is what you would normally do if heavy rain was forecast, which is to build a bit more freeboard in by allowing more water to be taken out of the system, which is very difficult when you’re really unsure [which] areas will get a thunderstorm.”

… we have a small favour to ask. Millions are turning to the Guardian for open, independent, quality news every day, and readers in 180 countries around the world now support us financially.

We believe everyone deserves access to information that’s grounded in science and truth, and analysis rooted in authority and integrity. That’s why we made a different choice: to keep our reporting open for all readers, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay. This means more people can be better informed, united, and inspired to take meaningful action.

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/aug/15/uk-weather-met-office-warns-of-dangerous-floods-across-country

https://newsroom.shropshire.gov.uk/2022/02/latest-flooding-information-and-advice-february-23/

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/aug/14/uk-weather-another-day-of-heatwave-before-thunderstorms

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/aug/13/more-wildfires-across-uk-feared-as-temperatures-forecast-to-reach-35c

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-hereford-worcester-60460082

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