Rude awakening as 3,000 lightning strikes move across the UK

It seems thousands of people across southern Britain were woken up early this morning by loud claps of thunder, seemingly constant flashes of lightning and torrential rain.

Powerful storm moves across London Credit: @JustinStokes

It's reported there were 3,000 lightning strikes across the UK in just two hours. The storms were caused by hot air pushing up from the south.

The Shard surrounded by lightning Credit: @nibl83

This is an effect known as a Spanish plume. As the hot air hits cooler air from the west it accelerates and triggers thunderstorms.

London's police helicopter Credit: @MPSinthesky

Much of the lightning we saw last night was cloud to cloud rather than cloud to ground. This is because rather than being cumulonimbus (the traditional enormous storm clouds) the clouds were cumulus castellanus (mid level).

The storm approaching London Credit: @MPSinthesky

That is way in many cases the lightning arrived well before the heaviest of the rain.

We have more heavy thundery showers on their way overnight and tomorrow afternoon.

The Met Office has issued a Yellow Weather Warning for more storms with the potential for localised ground flooding.

Following a build of very warm and humid air at the end of this week there is the potential for the development of intense thunderstorms over the UK from Friday night.

In this situation large amounts of energy are available in the atmosphere and this coupled with high moisture content can lead to torrential downpours along with frequent lightning activity, large hail and locally strong gusts.

In this situation many elements need to come together at the same time to form these thunderstorms and so there remains large uncertainty in their development.

– Met Office