A swathe of the UK has been hit by thunderstorms and torrential downpours, with the Met Office warning of flash floods and weeks’ worth of rain falling in 24 hours.
But the heavy rainfall is unlikely to ease water shortages and stop hosepipe bans, after households in Kent and Sussex were told they would have to restrict their water usage due to record levels of demand.
South East Water will be bringing restrictions in from 26 June, despite a yellow weather warning for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on Sunday, and Monday in some places.
This is because a bout of heavy rainfall cannot make up for prolonged periods of dry weather, causing reservoir levels to deplete over time.
Met Office meteorologist Jonathan Vautrey said: “Some parts of England are still recovering from the very dry, hot, summer and autumn that we had last year. Some reservoir levels still haven’t quite recuperated from that.”
He said that “some places could see 40mm to 60mm of rain, even 80mm in some places, which is more than half a month’s worth of rainfall” from Sunday into Monday.
But he explained that thunderstorms are “very localised” in nature, meaning one area might see a “torrential downpour” while areas a few miles in any direction could remain “completely dry”.
“So thunderstorms aren’t really the best way of helping to increase his water reserves again, particularly if the thunderstorm doesn’t actually happen over the reservoir itself.
“Some areas still need much more prolonged rainfall to help build up those reserves.”
South East Water said its hosepipe ban was a “step to ensure we have enough water for both essential uses and to protect the environment” after demand for drinking water in Kent and Sussex reached record levels in June.
“We have been left with no choice but to restrict the use of hosepipes and sprinklers within our Kent and Sussex supply areas until further notice,” the water company previously announced.
Households spent days without water while temperatures reached as high as 30°C in some areas. Schools were forced to shut and residents had to collect drinking water from bottled water stations.
People in the area from Haywards Heath in West Sussex to Whitstable in Kent were urged to use only essential water.
Forecasters said warm, humid air over the past week has caused the storms to develop. Heavy rain has already hit parts of the UK, with 21.5mm of rain in Ringley, near Manchester, and 18.6mm falling in Charlwood, Surrey.
The Met Office said downpours could lead to flash flooding, putting homes at risk and potentially causing power cuts.. A yellow weather warning for rain is in place across Wales, most of England, southern Scotland and western parts of Northern Ireland.
The Met Office also warned of heavy rainfall and the risk of flooding in the north of England and large parts of Scotland on Sunday night and Monday morning.
The hot weather is set to continue, with highs of 29°C in some areas.