Storms to follow sweltering heat
The rollercoaster of glorious sunny weather followed by spectacular lightning shows, hail and torrential rain continues today with a return to soaring temperatures, then a warning of severe storms.
Forecasters say the temperatures are unlikely to quite reach the levels of Wednesday when Heathrow recorded 36.7C (98.1F), breaking the record for a July day and many other places broke the 30C (86F) mark.
The afternoon should see thermometers hitting the high 20s in southern England, central areas and south Wales and in the high teens to low 20s further north.
But all this is a prelude to another evening of spectacular storms across many parts of England and Wales.
The Met Office has issued a yellow "be aware" severe weather warning, which runs from 7pm to noon on Saturday.
It said: "Isolated heavy, and possibly severe, thunderstorms are expected to develop on Friday evening across parts of England and Wales.
"These are likely to become more frequent later and spread northwards towards southern Scotland. Some torrential downpours are possible leading to localised surface water flooding, with large hail and frequent lightning also possible hazards."
The prospect of fresh storms comes as some h ouseholders and businesses in the north of England and Scotland are counting the cost of the wave of freak weather that followed Wednesday's record-breaking temperatures.
More than 50,000 people in the north-east of England had their power cut, a nursery owner in North Yorkshire watched as up to 5,000 greenhouse panes were smashed by giant hailstones, dozens of cars were damaged by the hail and a house in County Durham lost its roof to a blaze, apparently following a lightning strike.
The Met Office said the 34-hour period to 10am yesterday saw 19,525 lightning strikes, 15,273 of which were in Scotland.
Northern Powergrid, the company responsible for running the power network across the North East, Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire, said it has restored power to all remaining customers affected by the lightning storms.
A spokeswoman said: "We've had more than 500 of our engineers working to carry out repairs to our network to restore electricity supplies for all of the 57,500 customers across North Yorkshire, County Durham, Tyne and Wear and Northumberland who had a power cut as a result of the storms."
She said all customers had their power restored by 9.40pm yesterday.
"We're very sorry for the inconvenience caused for our customers and thank them for their patience while our engineering and customer support teams worked to help our customers and repair our network."
Jonny Bradbrook, of Ravensworth Nurseries, Richmond, North Yorkshire, said his business was a scene of devastation after huge hailstones smashed thousands of planes of glass in his greenhouses.
Mr Bradbrook said the storm arrived at around 9pm yesterday and lasted for only 20 minutes, but left thousands of pounds of damage.
He said: "I've never known anything like it. They were as big as golf balls. I think there might be 5,000 panes gone but I'll know for sure later."
Mr Bradbrook said many of the panes were left with "bullet holes" and the broken glass has also wrecked some of his stock.
He said: "We've had floods before but nothing like this. There was no rain, just hail and thunder."
Giant hailstones are also reported to have caused damage to scores of cars in parts of the Yorkshire Dales and County Durham.
AA Insurance said it had received a spate of claims for cars damaged by hail, particularly in north-east England.
A spokesman said one claimant said his Jaguar "looked like a golf ball it had so many dimples on the roof and bonnet" after being caught in a severe storm.
Also in the Durham area, a house fire which left a property in Ferryhill without a roof has been blamed on a lightning strike. No one was hurt in the blaze.
Scores of motorists pulled over to watch on Wednesday night as another storm moved up the Pennines.
In Sheffield, weather-watchers drove out of the city to witness the huge cloud which silently flashed with almost continuous lightning but with no thunder and no rain.
In the village of Worrall, Rick Taylor, said: "I've not seen anything like this before, it's amazing. It's exactly like that scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind when the spaceship is approaching."
The light show gradually worked its way north, with people using social media to chart its progress through Huddersfield and then on to Leeds, Bradford and the Yorkshire Dales.