Following weeks of extreme heat that broke records, the August bank holiday will see the return of more familiar weather that could see temperatures reach 30C.
The ongoing hot and dry regime has seen drought declared across swathes of England, with parched grass and struggling crops, streams drying up and river, reservoir levels low, and hosepipe bans brought in for millions as heatwaves pushed up demand for water.
Temperatures have consistently hit the 30s during the heatwaves but thunderstorms and heavy rain are hitting the country ahead of a return to drier conditions in time for the bank holiday weekend.
The Met Office say there is a possibility that temperatures could climb to 30C or into the mid-20s – but it depends on how the high pressure builds.
While the more extreme temperatures England has experienced recently are not expected to return over the next few days, the Met Office say warm weather will be experienced by most.
Forecaster Aidan McGivern said that high pressure from the Azores islands in the mid-Atlantic has been extending across the UK, causing the warm summer and the very dry summer that we've had.
He added: “That repeating pattern repeats again this weekend.”
Temperatures are expected to peak at around 22C in the south of England, with largely dry and warm summer spells, though possible wetter in the north-west UK – including Northern Ireland and western Scotland.
Watch: Droughts across Europe drain water levels, revealing pieces of history
Spokesman Grahame Madge said: “We’ve definitely switched from the hot and dry regime to something that has rain in the forecast.
“There’s some heavy rain for the next 24 to 36 hours, providing some relief to gardeners more than helping to top up long-term resources.”
While the forecast rain for this week will mean this month will “catch up a bit” with rainfall totals, he said: “It’s certainly going to be a dry August for the whole of the UK.”
Heavy rain is expected for some areas of the UK on Thursday and Friday, with parts of the South East potentially seeing 5-15mm of rain fall over three hours.
The Environment Agency issued six alerts for areas where “flooding is possible” on Thursday, adding: “Heavy rain and thunderstorms, bringing the potential for locally intense rainfall, are forecast to affect the London area.
“While uncertainty remains around exact timings and which areas will experience the heaviest rain, there is a possibility that rivers could respond quickly and overtop their banks.
“Flooding to low-lying land, roads and riverside gardens is possible.
“Surface water flooding may also affect low-lying areas.”
Despite torrential downpours in some places last week which caused flash flooding, the UK as a whole has had only 46% of the average total rainfall for August so far this month, the Met Office said.
Much of the country has seen even drier conditions, with only 35% of the total expected rainfall for the month so far in England, 34% in Wales and 39% in Northern Ireland.
And in southern England there has been just 29% of the month’s average from 1991 to 2020.