THOUSANDS of households lost power this morning after spectacular lightning lit up the night sky across much of Yorkshire as storms rolled in amid a prolonged heatwave.
Thunder and heavy downpours struck from the south coast to the north of England overnight as the weather front swept north into Scotland.
Around 27,000 homes across Yorkshire have been affected by powercuts caused by the storms, including Rotherham, Halifax, Wetherby, Ilkley and Bradford.
A spokeswoman from Northern Powergrid said power had been cut off since 3am but has since been restored in most areas.
Around 4,000 homes were still affected across the North East and Yorkshire by 11am, with Wetherby one of the worst-hit areas.
The spokeswoman added: “Our teams have worked since the early hours of this morning to restore power to the majority of our customers after lightning storms damaged our power network during the early hours of this morning.
“We’re sorry for the inconvenience caused and thank our customers for their patience while we carry out the necessary repairs.
“We’d like to reassure them that our engineers are working hard to get the remaining 2,000 customers who are still without power back on as quickly as possible.”
A home on Meadowhall Road, Kimberworth, Rotherham, is thought to have been struck through the roof by lightning at 3.10am, while the Sweeney 4 men’s barbers on Ecclesall Road was also damaged.
The spokesman added: “We turned out at Ecclesall Road at about 3.20am and came away at 5am.
“The assumption at the moment is that it’s likely to have been caused by a lightning strike.
“The window has been put through and it has now been boarded up. The flames were coming out of that window and the damage is quite severe.”
The Met Office has issued a yellow “be aware” severe weather warning for England and southern Scotland, which runs to noon today, and warned of possible “localised surface water flooding” caused by torrential rain.
It follows a week which saw the hottest July day on record and similar storms featuring golf ball-sized hail which caused an estimated £1.5 million in damage to cars.
The mercury could rise to 29C (84F) in East Anglia later while temperatures are set to be above average elsewhere.
John Griffiths, a forecaster for MeteoGroup, said: “Thundery showers covered from the north of England down to London and there have been quite a few lightning strikes in London and the south coast, as well as in Wales.
“It will continue to push northwards into Scotland and the north of England, which will have heavy rain early on Saturday but they should clear by evening. In the South it will be mainly dry.
“The front came in an arc through Ireland to London via the north of England.
“It’s going to stay pretty showery on Sunday with sunny spells and thundery outbreaks most likely in the South West and most of the west coast.”
Fork and sheet lightning were seen in areas including London, Bournemouth, Southampton and Surrey as social media buzzed with people sharing their lightning pictures.
Capital FM DJ Dave Berry tweeted: “I’m hanging out of the window like your favourite dog. #lightning.”
James Franklin added: “Some impressive sheet lightning right now over Southampton.”
And Joe Pickover said: “Lightning storm over Reigate in Surrey right now. No sleep.”
The fresh storms come as some householders and businesses in the north of England and Scotland are counting the cost of the wave of freak weather that followed Wednesday’s record-breaking temperatures.
AA Insurance said it took dozens of claims for cars wrecked by hailstones, and estimated around 1,700 cars worth up to £1.5 million could have suffered.
And the Met Office said the 34-hour period to 10am Thursday saw 19,525 lightning strikes, 15,273 of which were in Scotland.
On Wednesday, the highest temperature recorded was 36.7C (98.1F) at Heathrow, breaking the record for a July day, while many other places broke the 30C (86F) mark.