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Brollies in demand as rain returns

Miserable weather in recent days is pouring water on hopes of a sunny summer.

The warm and dry weather of spring was a distant memory yesterday as a deluge meant some parts of the UK experienced over one-fifth of their expected monthly rainfall in just six hours.

With Wimbledon and Glastonbury fast-approaching, and gloomy skies looking set to linger, tens of thousands will be hoping the events will not be washouts.

Both events, which begin next week, produce some of the most famous images of the UK's unpredictable weather - tennis fans huddled under umbrellas and festival-goers caked in mud.

The South East bore the brunt of yesterday's showers, with 17mm recorded in Woking, Surrey from 6am to noon, and 13mm in St James's Park, London. Some 11mm of rain drenched Heathrow, west London, where the average total for the entire month of June is 51mm.

Elsewhere heavy showers delayed the start of England's cricket match against Sri Lanka in Southampton, while an area to the east of Alnwick, Northumberland saw 11mm of rain.

Lindsay Dovey, forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said rain would continue to fall in the South East on Friday.

"Light rain and drizzle will reach London towards the end of the morning, but it's expected to be heavy by the end of the afternoon. London could be looking at 20mm throughout the afternoon and evening. There's a risk of the odd rumble of thunder too."

These conditions are in stark contrast to the balmy spring enjoyed by many. Across the whole of England and Wales it was the second driest spring since 1910 and the driest spring since 1990.

Overall, England and Wales had only 45% of the long-term average rainfall for March, April and May. But East Anglia had only 21%, giving the area the driest spring for 101 years.

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