Britain is facing its "worst ever" summer with cold wet weather ruining family holidays and blighting the Olympics, forecasters warned last night. August is set to be a washout following a miserable July and the wettest June since records began - meaning summer is effectively over. Gloomy forecasts suggest dire weather will continue as officials last night put Britain on flood alert after torrential downpours yesterday wreaked havoc.
As the Environment Agency warned of a "potential danger to life" with rivers swelling to breaking point in the Midlands, Yorkshire and Wales, Government forecasters were on standby to brief the Cabinet if severe floods strike. The agency last night issued 51 flood warnings - meaning flooding is expected - and 135 alerts. Monsoon-like downpours hit 85,000 music fans at the T In The Park festival in Kinross, Scotland, and 28,000 Formula 1 spectators camping for the British Grand Prix weekend at Silverstone. Race meetings today in Nottingham and Carlisle were cancelled while play was delayed on all courts at Wimbledon - other than Centre Court.
In Leeds, organizers cancelled music festival MFEST over safety concerns. Emergency services reported a surge of flood callouts, dispatched special operations teams and told motorists not to drive through floodwater. The misery is set to continue with parts of the Midlands and northern Britain braced for six inches of rain - more than two months' worth - in the 72 hours to tomorrow night. Tony Waters, deputy chief forecaster at the Met Office, said: "We are expecting very heavy and thundery rain, with worst affected spots likely to be in central and northern parts. "Some places could see around 100mm (3.9in). The Met Office said the washout will continue into August.
A spokesman said: "A protracted spell of hot, sunny weather looks very unlikely." Forecasters MeteoGroup last night described this summer as "the worst since records began." Forecaster Paul Knightley said: "This is as bad a summer as we can get in this country. "It's wet, cool and dull. It's not wrong to suggest the first half of summer has been the worst since records began." Jonathan Powell, forecaster for Vantage Weather Services, said: "There is no settled fine weather on the horizon and August looks as doomed as July. It is a bitterly disappointing summer and already set to be in the top five wettest on record. "The first couple of days of the Olympics are likely to be very wet indeed, and the rest of the Games unsettled."