Weather: UK braces for 'floods, lightning and power cuts' as thunderstorms forecast

The weekend's unusually warm weather is expected to come to an abrupt end. Credit: PA

The UK is bracing for floods, lightning strikes and power cuts this week after the Met Office predicted thunderstorms and issued weather warnings in parts of Great Britain.

The weekend's mild weather, which brought the UK’s warmest New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day on record, will not last beyond the early part of next week.

Forecasters said the the fast-moving thunderstorms could result in sudden flooding, lightning strikes and possible “localised disruption”.

Road closures, power cuts and damage to trees and buildings are possible.

The Met Office, which had issued a weather warning for thunderstorms for Sunday afternoon, said that heavy showers and gusty winds had moved along the south coast.

Heavy showery rain also led to tricky driving conditions in the southern Pennines.

Met Office forecaster Simon Partridge said: “The warning went out because we had a band of very heavy thundery showers that started off from the Isles of Scilly and made its way across the southern third of the UK.

“There was heavy rain in amongst it and some very strong winds with gusts of 40-50 mph along the south coast.

“There was also some lightning, not a huge amount, along the south coast area.”

The heavy rain and strong gusty winds would have led to some “very difficult driving conditions”.

Mr Partridge said it had been a thin band of rain but “if you were driving down the road you certainly would have had probably 30 minutes or so of really dangerous driving conditions, it was certainly pretty intense”.

It follows the unusually mild weather over the New Year weekend that was due to warm subtropical air flowing from the Azores, which pushed temperatures to around 16C at a time of year when they usually reach no more than 7C.

Rowers from the Bristol Gig Club make their way along the River Avon at Conham River Park, Bristol Credit: Ben Birchall/PA

Warnings for wind and snow are in also in place for northern Scotland on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Showers and strong winds may cause difficult driving conditions on higher routes. Bus, ferry and train services could be affected, with trips taking longer or even being cancelled.

The Met Office warning states: “Frequent snow showers and gusts to severe gale force are expected on Tuesday, leading to travel disruption, particularly for higher routes.”

Angus, Grampian, Highlands and Eilean Siar, plus Orkney and Shetland are among the areas that could be affected.

Areas above 200 metres could be among the worst affected, with the snowfall possibly reaching 10-15cm in places.

The weather warning adds: “In combination with winds gusting 50 to 60mph, perhaps 70mph on exposed summits, temporary blizzard conditions and some drifting of snow on higher-level routes is likely. Gusts of around 70mph on exposed coasts will generate some large waves and dangerous coastal conditions in a few places.”