Just two weeks after the UK’s hottest day on record, the Met Office has issued severe weather warnings across large parts of the country, with “unseasonable” heavy rain and gale-force winds expected.
Several festivals and events have been cancelled, and motorists in some parts have been told to avoid driving unless absolutely necessary as forecasters anticipate thundery downpours are set to hit on Friday.
The west of England and Wales is set to be hit first, with yellow warnings for wind in place from Friday afternoon, while this will extend to most of England and Wales by Saturday.
The whole of the UK has also been issued with a rain warning.
A band of heavy rain followed by thunderstorms are expected throughout much of Britain, and could bring with them travel disruption, flooding and power cuts.
The Met Office has warned that there will be between 10-15mm of rain in most places, with some areas expecting up to 30mm within a few hours.
Warnings of thunderstorms will carry on through Saturday into Sunday and cover the north of England, most of Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Neil Armstrong, chief meteorologist at the Met Office, said: “This low-pressure system will bring challenging conditions, including unseasonably strong winds and heavy rain, from the west.”
“Summer storms – compared with those in autumn and winter – always have the potential to create additional impacts because more people are likely to be outdoors, especially by the coast,” he added.
With 60mph winds forecast for the south west of England, organisers of the Boardmasters music festival in Newquay made the decision to call off the event on Wednesday, hours before it was due to begin.
Similarly in Norfolk, the Houghton dance music festival was cancelled shortly before commencing with organisers saying they were “devastated”.
Elsewhere, the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta has been scaled back and the National Eisteddfod music festival in north Wales has introduced “contingency plans”.
The St Annes International Kite Festival in Lancashire has been postponed until September, while Saturday races at Cowes Week sailing regatta have been cancelled.