UK & World News

  • 29 July 2014, 1:56

'Rivers Of Hail' As Freak Storm Sweeps Coast

A freak summer storm has brought chaos to the south coast of England with lightning, floods and hailstones and a power cut on the railway lines.

Forecasters said a "deeply unstable airmass" had brought with it the risk of heavy, thundery showers across East Anglia, the South East and London throughout the day. The Met Office said nearly half a month's worth of rain fell in an hour in some areas.

London Fire Brigade rescued two women from a car which in flood water in South Ruislip, northwest London.

Firefighters also rescued five people from three neighbouring houses which were flooded in Thaxted, Essex. One family remained on the first floor of their home while crews pumped water from the property after flood water affected the electrics.

Commuters in West Sussex braved torrential rain and hailstones as they struggled to work, though the main Brighton to London line was unaffected.

People in Brighton, Hove and Worthing who posted pictures on social media websites described seeing cars submerged and people taking shelter in the town hall.  

Network Rail said electrical supply problems had been caused by a lightning strike, near Hove, during the morning, causing delays of up to 30 minutes to trains between Worthing and Hove/Brighton.

South West Trains said Woking-bound trains would not be calling at Esher, Hersham or Walton-on-Thames because of flooding.

A spokesman for East Sussex Fire and Rescue told Sky News they received some 300 calls from the public.

Richard Fowler said: "The control room started receiving calls at six o'clock this morning. We have had 300 calls so far in the south coast area from Brighton and Hove.

"The power to the track has had to be isolated because the tracks are flooded, and we have sent one of our high pumps over to assist with that.

"People are phoning and saying they have flooded basements which are affecting electrics. We did not expect this kind of extreme weather this morning. There are large hailstones on the ground. It is almost like winter."

Hove resident Adam Batchelor emailed a picture to Sky News of the road outside his home in Hove. "The basement flats flooded and people evacuated to the town hall," he said. "Thankfully I stayed away last night!" he said.

Laurence Hill wrote on Twitter: "Used to be roads. Now rivers of hail. Never seen anything like it."

The Environment Agency issued a flood warning - meaning flooding is expected - for the Kidbrooke stream at Forest Row, East Sussex.

It said: "Heavy showers will bring a chance of some localised surface water flooding issues across parts of Sussex and Kent this afternoon.

"Further heavy showers are expected from around dawn tomorrow across much of southeast England which may result in some surface water flooding, especially in urbanised areas."

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