Weather monitoring: Flash floods as European heatwave ends in thunderstorms | Weather United Kingdom

Prolonged heat in parts of northern and western Europe ended in torrential downpours and thunderstorms this week.

Parts of southern England received 50-65mm of rainfall in a matter of hours on Wednesday, forcing London Gatwick Airport to delay and cancel dozens of flights.

Italy, France and Belgium also experienced severe weather, with thunderstorms in Italy’s Liguria region producing thousands of lightning strikes on Thursday and hail measuring 4-5cm in diameter. Winds were also recorded with gusts of around 75mph, which suspended railways such as the Genoa to La Spezia route. A severe thunderstorm in Corsica, France, killed three people and injured a dozen others as trees fell and roofs collapsed. That same storm produced wind gusts exceeding 130 mph, leaving 45,000 homes without power.

Torrential rains coupled with dry soils from a relentless summer resulted in major flash floods for these regions. Major cities like London, Paris and Marseille have seen severe disruption to transport infrastructure, with streets flooded and metro stations closed.

Flash floods were also a danger in western China, with 18 people killed and 36 still missing in Qinghai province on Wednesday night. A rainstorm in the mountainous region of Datong county sent waters rushing down the mountain and triggered a landslide that affected more than 6,000 people in six villages, with damaged houses and uprooted trees. It came a week after seven people died after flash floods in China’s Sichuan province.

Millions of people in southwest China are facing power cuts after prolonged heat caused power supply problems. Nine hundred million people in China have been under heat warnings for 64 consecutive days this summer, the longest in recorded history.

Prolonged heat has hit hydropower generation in parts of the country as reservoirs dry up, with major rivers such as the Yangtze seeing a 20-50% reduction in water volume, cutting supplies in provinces such as Sichuan. Local authorities have attempted to reduce electricity demand by ordering electricity rationing in homes, offices and shopping malls.

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