Lightning, heavy downpours and a huge hail storm created a scene described as the “zombie apocalypse” in Sussex this morning.
The storms hit the Hove, Brighton and Worthing during the morning rush-hour, causing chaos on trains when a lightning strike affected services.
An electricity sub-station was hit, causing power to the coastal rail route to be cut, although the main line to London was running normally, according to a Network Rail spokeswoman.
Network Rail said on its website: “Electrical supply problems caused by a lightning strike, near Hove, are causing delays of up to 30 minutes to trains between Worthing and Hove/Brighton.
“There is no firm estimate yet of how long disruption will last but it is likely to continue until at least 09.00.”
Commuters posted on Twitter descriptions of heavy hail and localised flooding caused by the storms.
Local residents said the storm started at 5.30am, leading to torrential rain.
Laurence Hill wrote: “Used to be roads. Now rivers of hail. Never seen anything like it.”
Brighton and Hove Police posted: “Localised flooding in Hove and Portslade, some roads not passable. Please do not enter flood water on foot or in cars.”
Brighton station tweeted: “At a stand west coastway, Worthing, Brighton, Both ways due to zombie apocalypse Brighton, Hove, Fishersgate, Portslade, Lancing, Shoreham”
London Fire Brigade rescued two women from a car which got stuck in flood water near South Ruislip station, north-west London.
The fire service said on Twitter that 50 houses were also affected by flood water in the area.
Firefighters rescued five people from three neighbouring houses which were flooded in Thaxted, Essex.
One family remained on the first floor of their home while crews pumped water from the property after flood water affected the electrics, a Essex Fire and Rescue spokesman said.
Brighton and Hove City Council’s headquarters also had to close after the basement flooded due to the heavy rain.
Commuters described flash flooding which left roads impassable
The Met Office issued a “yellow” warning of rain – meaning there is a “moderate risk” – for East Anglia, the South East and London. Some 30mm (1.2in) of rain – half the average monthly total for England in July – fell in an hour some areas overnight, a spokeswoman said.
Chief forecaster Steve Willington said: “A deeply unstable airmass will cover south eastern areas of England on Monday. The main risk of disruptive downpours is now early this morning, with only a very low risk during the afternoon period.
“These heavy showers and thunderstorms may become focused into slow-moving narrow bands, meaning that whilst some areas experience locally intense downpours giving 25mm within an hour and very locally 40mm within two to three hours, adjacent areas could stay dry. “
The Environment Agency issued a flood warning – meaning flooding is expected – for the Kidbrooke stream at Forest Row, East Sussex.
It said: “Heavy showers will bring a chance of some localised surface water flooding issues across parts of Sussex and Kent this afternoon.
“Further heavy showers are expected from around dawn tomorrow across much of south-east England which may result in some surface water flooding, especially in urbanised areas.
“In any one specific location within the South East, there is a very low chance of flood impacts, but flooding of properties and parts of communities and travel disruption is possible somewhere within the region as a whole.
“Despite some heavy showers across north-west England today and tonight flooding is not expected elsewhere or at other times during the next three days.”