The heatwave and the drought continue and it's another absolutely scorching hot day today. I can't stand this terrible heat any longer. Luckily, there's rain on its way.

After the drought, here's the deluge

5th July 2006

The top picture shows a green Parliament Square in March, while below are the same parched lawns in July

The heatwave came to a dramatic end in some parts of the country yesterday, with several regions battered by storms.

Storm clouds moved up from the south coast into Sussex and hit south and eastern parts of London.

Outlying areas of the capital suffered thunderstorms, gusting winds and hail. Parts of Hertfordshire were also hit and the M25 was battered by high winds and 'pea-sized' hailstones.

There were also storms in the South West, particularly on the north and east coast of Devon and Somerset, on Exmoor and Bodmin Moor.

Much of Northamptonshire, meanwhile, was left without power following heavy storms.

Lightning struck Grendon, near Northampton, late yesterday afternoon, causing power cuts in a number of towns and villages.

Hundreds of homes were affected, phone lines were down and heavy traffic built up as the storm knocked out a number of traffic lights across the county.

The storms did not arrive unannounced. In Faversham, Kent, yesterday the mercury peaked at 90f - equalling the the highest recorded temperature so far this year on June 12.

But just hours later, the weather men warned that the South East would see horrific flash flooding and the Met Office predicted it would be 'very nasty'.

'The storms are going to be at their worst in the South East and London looks set to be hit badly,' said a Met Office spokesman.

'There will be several inches of rainfall and there might even be hailstones. If the flash flooding is severe there will be quite a bit of disruption to people's lives.'

The rainfall, however, will be welcomed by gardeners with parched lawns across the country. Many homeowners have watched in dismay as baking temperatures have rapidly turned their lush green gardens into a yellowed, dried-up expanse.

Parliament Square offers a perfect example of how desperate lawns are for a downpour. The bottom picture (above), taken on July 1, shows that the recent hot, dry spell has turned the grass yellow and sparse. The picture above was taken on March 27 and shows the lawns at their greenest, clearly having benefited from that month's rainfall.

Health experts, meanwhile, said asthma sufferers may see their condition worsen because of the stormy weather.

'Asthma UK warns those with asthma or a tendency to asthma to make sure that they keep their medicines with them at all times over the next 24 hours,' said Professor Martyn Partridge, Asthma UK's Chief Medical Adviser. 'Thunderstorms occurring at a time when the pollen levels have been high have been associated with previous epidemics of asthma attacks.

'It is believed the inversion of temperatures that occurs at the time of thunderstorms brings down pollen granules which the moisture then breaks up to a size that is breathed in to the lungs of those with asthma in large quantities, inducing attacks even in those who have just previously had mild asthma.'

Temperatures are expected to cool by the weekend, falling to 77f in the South East, and 60f in the North.

Barely an hour after the Met Office issued the official storm alert yesterday, a 16-year-old boy was struck by lightning. He was hit as he played in Ashburton Park, Croydon, at 2.20pm, a London Ambulance Service spokesman said.

But he narrowly escaped two more lightning bolts which ripped through the park in quick succession minutes after he was struck down.

The teenager suffered only minor burns and remained conscious. He was taken to St George's Hospital in nearby Tooting to be treated.