More than half of the lightning strikes in the UK this year have taken place since Sunday, the Met Office has said.
Lightning and thunder signalled the end of the country’s latest heatwave this week after a long spell of high temperatures in the south.
With record-breaking temperatures and a long drought predicted, the heavy rainfall was welcomed by many but also produced torrential rain that resulted in flooding and travel disruption.
According to the Met Office’s lightning location system, the UK has had 49,439 lightning strikes this year so far. Of these, 26,718 were between Sunday and Wednesday alone.
Although there has been a disproportionate number of thunderstorms this week, a study analysing data from 1989 to 2019 showed a decrease in the number of days with thunder in the UK.
The study revealed the number of thunderstorms had increased in the north of the UK and fallen in the south. Summer was found to be the busiest thunderstorm season, and winter the least.
Ed Stone, an observations scientist at the Met Office, said: “Our study has shown that in the United Kingdom we are less likely to see a thunderstorm today than we were 30 years ago.”
The relationship between lightning and the climate crisis is still being analysed by scientists. A 2014 study predicted the frequency of lightning strikes around the world would increase by about 12% for every 1C rise in global temperature.
Stone also said that understanding more about the frequency of thunderstorms “has important implications for increasing our knowledge of future climate change and severe weather events”.
As climate breakdown intensifies, there is likely to be more extreme changes in the weather than previously experienced, including thunderstorms.