Hot weather and thunderstorms

  • The plume of warm air (reds and pinks) moving away to the east of the UK.

    People enjoying the hot sunshine outside the Houses of Parliament on 1st August 2013. Photo Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

    A motorist makes his way through flood water on Mountsorrel Lane in Loughborough on 28th July 2013. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

  • Hot weather and thunderstorms
    01.08.2013 14:00

    As we have been experiencing over the last week or so here in the UK, hot weather can lead to thundery downpours in the summer months. One of the causes of this is what is known in meteorology as a ‘Spanish Plume’. This occurs when there is a low pressure system to the south-west of the British Isles, dragging a plume of very warm air up from Spain in the southerly air flow, across the UK and north-west Europe. Then, as the cold front associated with the low moves in from the west, it brings much cooler air from over the Atlantic eastwards. When these two air masses meet, the plume of very warm air is forced upwards quickly and this can lead to thunderstorms developing. The thunderstorms can end up grouping together and lead to widespread areas of heavy rain and some torrential downpours. 

    As the cold front sweeps the latest warm plume eastwards away from the British Isles on Friday, there is the risk of thunderstorms developing just about anywhere. With the low pressure moving to sit to the north-west of us on Saturday, we will be in a more ‘sunshine and showers’ scenario, with most of these showers in the west. However, the next plume of very warm air looks like coming up from the south-west on Sunday and Monday, bringing heavy rain and thunderstorms across a lot of England and Wales. This changeable pattern of weather looks set to continue next week across the UK as very warm sunshine alternates with heavy showers and thunderstorms. Flash flooding from these thunderstorms and heavy downpours is a possibility. Meanwhile, there is also yet the chance that the record of the highest temperature of the year, which currently stands at 34.1C, recorded at Heathrow on 1st August, could be broken. 


    The wet weather can be followed on our raintoday website.

    By: Rachel Vince