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UK summer washout

Summer washout: forecasters warn of heavy rain and flash floods

Pedestrians cross Waterloo Bridge in sight of the 'Gherkin', today in London. Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Pedestrians cross a rainy Waterloo Bridge in front of London's Gherkin today Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Hopes of summer sunshine were washed away today after forecasters warned of heavy rain and possible flash floods.

Britain could even face a monsoon, it was predicted, a phenomenon usually associated with the Indian subcontinent.

Some areas could experience up to three-quarters of the month's average rainfall in one day today, with south-west England and south Wales expected to bear the brunt.

Last night almost an inch of rain fell in Devon and Cornwall, a third of what the region would expect in a month, with a second band of wet weather set to hit the area.

The rain was also sweeping across London before moving upwards to the north-east and over to Northern Ireland. Only Scotland appeared likely to escape, with just a few light showers interrupting the sunshine.

The Met Office had heavy rain warnings in force for south-west England and London and the south-east.

The rain was expected to continue into the evening, although most areas were thought likely to be drier by midnight.

There were fears of flash floods in south-west England and Wales, but the Environment Agency had no flood warnings in force.

People were urged to check the agency's website for updates if they believed they were at risk.

The bad weather caused traffic blocks on the roads and flight disruptions.

Forecasters believe most the rest of the month will be a washout, saying Britain faces a European monsoon.

It could mean this summer becomes one of the wettest on record.

Climatologists believe that monsoons may be an increasingly common feature in the summer in future years because of global warming.

Heavy rain also cut short last year's summer, with much of the country engulfed by severe floods. The last long, dry summer came with the heatwave in 2006.






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