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Stormy weather replaces heatwave

The "one day wonder" of Thursday's return to heatwave conditions gave way to cooler but stormy weather as thunder, lightning and hail roared across south-east England.

Temperatures typically dropped 8 or 9C after the hottest day of the year so far, while storms which built up in the English Channel late in the night moved over Kent and Sussex then London and East Anglia on their way out to the North Sea.

Hailstones measuring half an inch across - the size of a small coin - fell in some places and meteorologists reported "active" storms with plenty of lightning.

After the long hot spell in July, followed by several days of rain and falling temperatures, the nation baked in sizzling sunshine on Thursday, and the highest temperature of the year so far, 34.1C (93F), was recorded at Heathrow Airport.

This surpassed the previous seven-year high of 33.5C (92F) on July 22.

There were many high readings, such as 33C (91F) at London City Airport, 32.5C (90F) in St James's Park in the capital and 32C (89F) in Cambridge.

Paul Knightley, a senior forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "It was a one day wonder, with quite a surge of heat from France and Spain. At midnight last night, the temperature was still as high as 24.7C (76F) in central London.

"Today is still quite warm, but about 8 or 9 degrees cooler than yesterday in many places, and we expect it to continue in a similar pattern into next week. There is no immediate sign of a return to the hot weather we have seen.

"Tomorrow and Sunday should see sunny spells and scattered showers, with some heavier rain in the west on Sunday, though it will be mostly dry in the east. The pattern is moving towards more what we expect in a British summer, perhaps a shade above the values we would normally see."

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