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Homes damaged after outbreak of lightning strikes during storms

Lightning flashes over the tower of Westminster Cathedral (Adam Peck/PA)
Lightning flashes over the tower of Westminster Cathedral (Adam Peck/PA)

More than 20,000 lightning strikes were recorded in the UK during the thunderstorms on Wednesday night, with reports of homes being set alight after being struck by lightning, the Met Office has said.

But amid dramatic images circulating on social media, Met Office spokesperson Nicola Maxey said the display was not “record-breaking” because during a storm in June 2012 more than 110,000 strikes were recorded.

The thunderstorms were part of a weather system which has been pushed up from the continent, and came after a spell of above-average temperatures.

The Met Office recorded a high of 27.2C (81F) in Heathrow on Tuesday, with the average May temperature at just 16C.

“Whilst I’m not detracting from last night it was, you know, there were a lot of lightning strikes, but it wasn’t anywhere near the sort of record that we’ve recorded,” she said.

However, the thunderstorms nevertheless caused disruption to aviation and rail travel in the South East.

Ms Maxey added: “As I understand it there were some house fires as well.

“Some homes that were struck by lightning.”

Further thunderstorms are unlikely to reach the UK this week, as the unsettled weather system is expected to remain largely on the continent.

Ms Maxey said: “We’re likely to see more of this continental weather system pushing back into the southeast of the UK tonight.

“But the heaviest of those showers are going to stay on the continent.

“So the thunderstorms are likely to stay further south so they’re not likely to push into the UK.

“Areas like Kent and East Anglia are likely to see the heaviest of showers tonight, but there’s not really a risk of thunderstorms.”

The weekend is set to be cooler, with temperatures “on the lower side of average”, and widespread showers are forecast over the next week.

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