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Last Updated: Friday, 24 June, 2005, 19:46 GMT 20:46 UK
Violent storms end UK's heatwave
Traffic on the M5 near Dursley, Gloucs, on Friday morning
The Met Office said sunshine could return to the UK on Sunday
Violent storms have caused a chaotic end to Britain's sunny spell, with thunder and lightning, heavy rain and hail moving through England and Wales.

Thunderstorms in the Midlands and south-west England left more than 16,000 homes without power, and several houses damaged by lightning.

Coventry was also hit by a tornado but there were no reports of damage.

Meanwhile, heavy rain turned the Glastonbury Festival site into a mud bath, delaying its start.

Lightning strikes affected the stages and knocked out power lines, and hundreds of tents were waterlogged.

Play at Wimbledon was suspended when the rain hit London in the afternoon. The tournament was abandoned for the day shortly after 1900 BST amid more thunder and lightning.

"Both Wimbledon and Glastonbury should be mostly dry on Saturday although you can't rule out the odd passing shower and some drizzle," said BBC Weather forecaster Dan Corbett.

Glastonbury

He said showers and thunderstorms would continue to affect south-east England and East Anglia on Friday evening.

"But a front through tonight will see brighter skies coming in from the North," he added.

Thunderstorms hit south-west England, the West Country and south Wales early on Friday, reaching the Midlands by 0800 BST, the BBC Weather Unit said.

The south-west of Britain and central belt of England was worst affected, with Hereford receiving an inch of rain in two or three hours.

The storms left more than 10,000 homes across Devon and more than 6,000 in Wiltshire without power.

Head injuries

A Holiday Inn hotel at Fareham, in Hampshire, was set on fire by a lightening strike, the Fire Service confirmed.

In Worcestershire, a woman was taken to hospital with head injuries after the house she was in - in the Stoke Heath area of Bromsgrove - was hit by lightning.

The magnificent storm could been seen across Dorset

The strike blew a hole in the roof and brought down the ceiling in four bedrooms.

In Poole, Dorset, a house also had its roof and part of a first floor bedroom destroyed by a bolt that struck in the early hours.

The tornado in Coventry, which lasted about two minutes, was spotted over the Walsgrave and Stoke areas of the city.

The Birmingham Met Office said that when thunderstorms were severe enough, they sometimes sparked mini tornadoes.

Forecaster Pete Chapman said: "Usually it begins as a funnel cloud, snaking across the sky, and sometimes this funnel cloud reaches the ground, causing a mini tornado."

Cooler and fresher

The UK experiences an average of 35 small tornadoes a year, mostly in southern and eastern England.

I would advise Wellingtons and sun cream for people heading to Glastonbury this weekend
Met Office spokesman

Temperatures varied throughout the UK on Friday, with the South East experiencing highs of up to 30C (86F), compared with 13-15C in Northern Ireland and Wales.

The BBC Weather Unit is forecasting cooler and fresher conditions on Saturday, with Scotland and Northern Ireland expected to experience the best of the brighter spells.

UK temperature highs are expected to be between 17C and 22C.

Sunshine and slightly higher temperatures are expected to return by Sunday but there are forecasts of more storms developing by mid-week.

Meanwhile, the RAC and Highways Agency are urging drivers to check conditions before beginning journeys and to take extra care in the rain by slowing down and avoiding flooded areas.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Watch a tornado sweep across Coventry




SEE ALSO:
Woman hurt as lightning hits home
24 Jun 05 |  Hereford/Worcs
Tornado sweeps through Coventry
24 Jun 05 |  Coventry/Warwickshire
Flooding causes Glastonbury chaos
24 Jun 05 |  Entertainment
Residents prepare for more storms
24 Jun 05 |  North Yorkshire
Warning on beach jellyfish swarm
23 Jun 05 |  North West Wales


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