The Republic battled monsoon conditions overnight as England basked in what was expected to be the hottest day of the year, while areas of Northern Ireland were also badly hit by the deluge.
In the cities, Dublin was badly hit by flooding while London baked in the continuing heat. Earlier today Belfast remained grey but dry.
While severe weather warnings were issued across Northern Ireland, patients were evacuated from a north Dublin hospital after the roof partially collapsed, and elsewhere in the city 20 people had to be taken to safety.
Visits to Maghaberry Prison near Lisburn were suspended after one of the visiting halls was flooded. Coastal areas of the Republic were flooded including some of the Dart lines after 15 days’ worth of rain fell in one hour and the city council warned people not to make journeys until the situation normalises.
There were massive tailbacks on parts of the M1 and M50 motorways in the south and several major routes on both sides of the city were impassable. While flights went ahead as normal, Dublin Airport warned passengers to leave plenty of time for their journeys, as many roads in the area were flooded.
Dublin’s Fire Brigade said every available member was out overnight fighting the flood water’s advances.
“Every fire tender, the whole lot, were out during the night. It seemed to be bad everywhere. With everyone out, we must have got another 100 calls,” a staff member said.
Meanwhile, across the water the heatwave alert was heightened as forecasters predicted the hottest day of the year so far with temperatures of up to 33C in some parts, while other regions of England were hit by torrential rain and thunderstorms. Up to 500 lightning strikes were recorded across Tyne and Wear and Cumbria.
Severe weather warnings were issued by the Met Office for parts of Northern Ireland, but were soon extended to all counties.
The Prison Service said one of the visits halls in Maghaberry Prison had been flooded due to severe rainfall and visits would be rearranged.
“For health and safety reasons the Prison Service has decided to temporarily close the hall for urgent remedial work to be carried out. At present the visits area is working at 50% capacity. The hall will remain closed until further notice,” a spokesman said.
“The Prison Service is actively contacting those visitors who will be affected by the flooding in order to re-arrange their appointment. If members of the public would like further information, they can phone the booking office in Maghaberry on 028 9261 7070.”
Forecasters warned that Counties Antrim, Armagh, Londonderry and Down would be hit by heavy and thundery rain throughout the morning, with 15mm of rain possible in a three-hour period and total accumulations reaching as much as 30mm — almost half a month’s worth of rain.
There was a similar picture for counties Fermanagh and Tyrone, extending into the afternoon.
”The public are advised to take extra care and refer to the NI River Agency for further advice on flooding and to TrafficWatch (NI) for further advice on road conditions,” the Met Office said.
As the torrential rain swept north, motorists were warned to watch for localised flooding.
This morning police said the southbound lane A1 road south of Dromore had been closed due to flooding at the Maypole junction\[Tim Webb\] area and motorists were advised to seek an alternative rout.
The Moira Road at Lisburn was said to be passable with care and motorists reported that some roads in the Ballymena were treacherous with surface water.\[Chris Cairns\] A broken down lorry was causing some delays on the M1 at Sprucefield.
Meteogroup forecaster Gemma Plumb said heavy thundery rain began to move up into Northern Ireland from the south from around 4am.
“At the minute it looks like that heavy showery rain will continue much of the day with thunderstorms in that,” she said.
“It’s going to clear for a time during the evening but is going to return during the second half of the night. The showery weather looks likely to continue for the first half of tomorrow but may not be as heavy and clearing in afternoon to leave the odd shower here and there.”
Overnight, the roof of the A&E department at the Mater Hospital in Dublin partially collapsed following severe rain in the city.
The roof of a house in Monkstown in Dublin collapsed and 20 people had to be evacuated from Sherard Street to a shelter in Wolftone Street because of the flooding.