Page last updated at 03:52 GMT, Friday, 3 July 2009 04:52 UK

Heatwave easing as rain moves in

Woman hold umbrella
After the sunshine comes the rain

The heatwave that has hit parts of the UK is starting to ease, with severe weather warnings in place for heavy rain in northern and western areas.

Forecasters had predicted the hottest day of the year so far on Thursday, but temperatures failed to beat the previous high of 31.8C (89.2F).

The Met Office said the hottest place on Thursday was west of London, around Heathrow Airport, at 30.3C.

Heavy rain is now moving across much of Scotland, Wales and south-west England.

These areas, along with Northern Ireland, were hit by heavy rain, some of it thundery, throughout much of Thursday.

The previous highest temperature this year was on Tuesday, when thermometers measured 31.8C at Wisley, in Surrey.

Forecasters had predicted that some parts of south-east England would see 33C (91.4F) on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the heatwave alert level was increased to Level 3 of four in south-east England, with special advice being issued for the elderly and other people at risk from the heat.

Temperatures are expected to fall back to normal July levels from Thursday evening onwards.

By Friday, the maximum in the London area is likely to be about 26C, with other parts of eastern England hanging on to highs of about 21 to 25C.

Sadly too many people still don't appreciate how dangerous it can be to leave a dog in a hot car
Mark Evans, RSPCA

Northern and western England, Wales, and Northern Ireland will be cooler, between 19C and 23C.

But in Scotland, particularly the Highlands, temperatures could be as high as 26C.

Meanwhile, the RSPCA says it has been "inundated" with calls from members of the public worried about animals trapped in hot cars or gardens with no shade.

It follows the deaths of two police dogs in a vehicle left parked outside the headquarters of Nottinghamshire Police, and reports of four other dogs "boiled alive" in cars in Scotland.

RSPCA chief veterinary adviser Mark Evans said: "Sadly too many people still don't appreciate how dangerous it can be to leave a dog in a hot car, conservatory or caravan.

"Don't let your dog be the one to find out the hard way."

On Wednesday, flash floods hit parts of northern England, but the Environment Agency said fears of more problems had eased.

"We are watching the South West but rivers there so far are not responding [to the rain] and the ground is still taking on water," a spokesman said.

"There have been no reports to us of any [further] flash flooding. We continue to monitor the situation."

What is the weather like where you are? How will you be coping with the soaring temperatures? Will you be going to the beach or sweating in the office? We want to see how you will be staying cool.

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