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Summary

  1. Thunderstorms have caused flooding in London and south-east England, with more than 400 emergency calls made to the fire service
  2. The Met Office has issued an amber "be prepared" warning for rain in the London area from 15:00 to 23:00 BST
  3. The Environment Agency has about 40 flood alerts and 14 flood warnings in place
  4. The flooding has caused huge travel problems with rail services cancelled and roads closed
  5. Some polling stations have been flooded, hampering people voting in the EU Referendum

Live Reporting

By Alex Therrien and Vanessa Barford

All times stated are UK

Recap as storms hit London and southern England

We're wrapping up our live page coverage of the thunderstorms that have hit London and the South East yesterday and throughout the day today. 

Here is a round-up of today's events:

  • Cars were submerged and polling stations in parts of the south-east England were closed or relocated as 40mm (1.5in) of rain fell earlier
  • Commuters faced severe delays to their journeys, with train, tube and roads affected by the weather 
  • London Fire Brigade said it had attended more than 400 incidents, including properties hit by lightning
  • The Environment Agency has issued 45 flood alerts and 16 red flood warnings while rivers in Bromley and Sidcup in south-east London, and Basildon, Essex, have been affected.  
  • The Met Office has issued an amber "be prepared" warning for Thursday evening with heavy rain again falling across London and south-east England

To read our story on the storms, click here

Pensioner's house 'absolutely full'

In Romford, 82-year-old June Simmonds became trapped on the first floor of her house as the flood water rose. 

Later, when it subsided, her daughter Kim Cook had a look at the damage.        

She told the BBC the house was "absolutely full" and "swimming".

"I just want to cry, because it's just gonna take so much again to get it back to where it was," she said. 

"There's a really long road ahead. This is the second time and it was as bad last time and I just feel really sorry for my mum." 

1,200 rail engineers working on weather-related issues

Network Rail handout of the flooded Manor Park station after heavy rain.
Network Rail

Network Rail said it had 1,200 engineers working on weather-related issues across the network.   

Passengers travelling with operators such as Abellio Greater Anglia, Gatwick Express, Southern, South West Trains and Thameslink were hit by delays and cancellations. 

Lambeth North, Ruislip Manor and Upminster Bridge stations were closed because of the flooding. 

Blackfriars and Mansion House stations were partly closed during the evening rush hour while those needing step-free access from Poplar station were also affected by the severe rain. 

Bank station was evacuated and closed for safety reasons at 17:45 BST due to a fire alert, but reopened 45 minutes later after London Fire Brigade gave it the all clear. 

The Waterloo and City line was completely suspended while services on the Bakerloo, Circle, District and Hammersmith and City lines were all hit by severe delays. 

Travel misery for commuters

Commuters in south-east England have faced severe disruption this afternoon and evening as torrential rain and flooding continues to cause cancellations and delays. 

Several Tube stations were closed in London, while those using the rail network experienced severe disruption to their travel plans. 

A Transport for London (TfL) spokesman apologised to those whose journeys had been affected. 

The spokesman said: "A small number of our stations have been closed or part-closed due to flooding, caused by the heavy rain."  

"We're working to clear the water as quickly as possible so that services can return to normal. 

"Passengers are advised to check the TfL website and our social media feeds for the latest information." 

To see what TfL services are delayed, click here

Mixed picture across rail network

Train operators tweet travel updates...

NEW: Delays of up to 60 minutes to journeys between London St Pancras International and St Albans expected until 22:00

#VTNEW Due to damage to the overhead electric wires between Watford Junction and Milton Keynes Central, trains have to run at reduced speeds

⚠ We r running a normal timetable across network tomorrow 24 June -still always best 2 check journey b4 setting off cards.twitter.com/cards/10nn1s/j…

Weather watcher captures lightning in photo

BBC weather tweets...

Storms now rumbling through East Anglia. Thanks to #weatherwatcher Shantelle at Clacton-on-Sea. John H

Storms now rumbling through East Anglia. Thanks to #weatherwatcher Shantelle at Clacton-on-Sea. John H

Better weather forecast on Friday

Heavy, thundery rain over east and south-east England is due to clear overnight, the Met Office has forecast

Elsewhere, it says there will be scattered showery outbreaks of rain in Northern Ireland, western parts of Scotland and northern England overnight. 

For Friday it is forecasting dry interludes with warm, sunny spells for much of the UK, although it adds that heavy, slow moving showers will develop later, particularly in northern and western areas. 

For the forecast for the weekend and Monday, click here

Road accident on wet road in Kent

Kent Police tweets...

RTC M20 LB J5 main carriageway. 2 vehicle in the wet. Thankfully non injury. Main carriageway currently closed AE

RTC M20 LB J5 main carriageway. 2 vehicle in the wet. Thankfully non injury. Main carriageway currently closed AE

Polling stations hit by storms

Some polling stations for the UK's referendum on its membership of the EU have been forced to close in south-east England following heavy rain throughout Wednesday night and Thursday. 

Kingston upon Thames Council in south-west London moved two voting locations, and a polling station in Barking and Dagenham, east London, was shut because of a burst water main. 

Barking and Dagenham Council apologised to voters and said the polling station had been relocated to two sites within walking distance.

One polling station in Dover experienced a power outage due to the storms and was running on a generator for much of the day. 

Flooding at Westminster Tube station

The heavy rainfall has been continuing across much of London this afternoon and evening. 

The executive editor of politics for the Huffington Post, Paul Waugh, posted this short video of Westminster Tube station. 

'Silver lining' - later - for storm-hit commuters

Every cloud... Forecasters are saying the rain will die out in the London area by 20:00 BST, and across most of the country by 22:00 BST. And the weather in the morning looks generally good.

PIcture: Lightning strikes in Surrey

Battersea floods: 'Never seen anything like it'

Cars under water in Battersea
Milly English
Floating cars in Battersea

Milly English, from Battersea, south London, tells us about her night of drama.

“I woke up to people knocking and banging on my door around 3am. At first I thought it was a brawl outside so I just ignored it, but it was persistent so I looked out the window and was shocked at what I was seeing," she says.

"A guy was thigh-deep in the water going from door-to-door to make sure people were OK. My roommates and I saw that the flooding had entered our house, so we used a broom to push it back into the street. My mum has lived in the same area for over 30 years and said she has never seen anything like it,” she adds.

Submerged cars in Battersea
Milly English
A parked mini is partially submerged in flood water
Water in hall
Milly English
Rain flooded the hall at Milly's Battersea home

Bus travellers in London urged to check route

Transport for London tweets:

Updates from London Bridge and Cannon Street

Commuters urged to consider setting off early

Commuters in south-east England have been urged to consider leaving work early as disruption to the rail network continues following torrential rain and thunderstorms.

The Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operating companies and Network Rail, advised passengers travelling through affected areas that "services will be severely disrupted this evening". It said: "Passengers should check before they travel and consider travelling earlier if they can in order to get home."

Rail operators whose services are affected include Abellio Greater Anglia, Gatwick Express, Southern, South West Trains, Thameslink and Southeastern.

Problems continuing on the roads

There are continuing problems on the roads around London following today's downpours. 

Difficult areas include Barking, where the Movers Lane Underpass is closed due to flooding and there are severe delays.

In central London, the Victoria Embankment is partially blocked and has slow traffic due to floods near Temple station.

Follow @BBCTravelAlert or visit the BBC London travel page for more London travel updates.

What should you do in a thunderstorm?

Much of the UK has recently been hit by thunderstorms, but what is the best way to stay safe when thunder and lightning hits? 

If a storm is approaching, take cover inside or in a car with the windows wound up - sheds, isolated trees and convertibles do not afford sufficient protection. Boaters and swimmers should get to shore as quickly as possible, as water conducts electricity. Read more on what to do here.

Lightening
Science Photo Library

Your footage of lightning during the storms

BBC News has obtained this footage from members of the public.

Fire service 'well-prepared'

London Fire Brigade has dealt with more than 400 weather-related incidents since the early hours of this morning, including rescuing 110 stranded residents in Romford, in the east of the city - many of them by boat. 

Terry Gooding is a flood adviser for the service - he told the BBC firefighters were well-prepared. 

The advantage we have with flood over our traditional fires is that we're able to predict situations occurring. And we work very closely with our partners to use various intelligence tools to help us predict rainfall and areas where we need to concentrate our resources. And we will pre-deploy those resources in preparation when required."

Terry GoodingLondon Fire Service

Birthday celebrations 'a wash out'

Earlier we mentioned that Jake Buckley's birthday celebrations in Brentwood had been something of a damp squib after the family house became flooded in the early hours of this morning.

Jake, who is 17 today, says he hasn't yet opened his birthday cards and has instead been helping his dad Kirk with the clean-up operation.

Cars left stranded after driving through floods in Ongar and elsewhere in Essex
Drivers are left stranded across Essex after attempting to drive through deep floodwater.

Check your journey online before travelling - Network Rail

Still soggy elsewhere... like Glastonbury Festival

Heavy rain in the days leading up to Glastonbury Fetival have left muddy conditions for the revelers, even though the worst of the rain today has been elsewhere. 

Wellies walk through mud
AFP
One festival-goer in wellies walks through a muddy puddle as she makes her way through the festival site at Worthy Farm, near the village of Pilton in Somerset.

A birthday to remember for flooded house teenager

Chris Flynn

BBC Essex

Jake Buckley, who is 17 today, had a bit of an unwelcome birthday surprise when he woke up this morning.

"My dad came in at 06:15 and said Happy Birthday - the house has flooded," Jake said.

Jake and Kirk Buckley
BBC

His dad Kirk said the whole bottom floor of the house was covered by "two feet of water", and the flooding was "just down to the amount of rain that fell, just bad luck".

"All the water's going to keep coming down the hill, so we're going to keep pumping for the next few hours - and I hear there's more rain coming," Mr Buckley said.

As for the birthday boy- the celebrations have been put on hold: "I haven't opened cards or any of that yet," Jake said. "I was going to have my first driving lesson today, but I'm not sure I'll be able to do that now."

How wet will your journey home be? Tomasz Schafernaker looks ahead.
The BBC's Tomasz Schafernaker warns of further thundery downpours on Thursday evening.

Car submerged in Romford

Rail engineers trying to fix problems caused by storms

Passengers travelling with operators such as Abellio Greater Anglia, Gatwick Express, Southern, South West Trains and Thameslink face delays and cancellations. 

Network Rail says it has 1,200 engineers working on weather-related issues across the network. 

Rivers reach record levels

A number of rivers in the South East region have hit their highest level on record over the past 24 hours. These include the River Rom, the River Wandle, Beverley Brook at Wimbledon, the River Shuttle at Bexley, River Ravensbourne at Bromley and the River Ingrebourne near Rainham, Essex. 

There continues to be a risk of flooding from smaller, fast-responding rivers in built-up areas, the Environment Agency says. 

Read more here.

Travel home earlier if possible, says rail group

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group - which represents train operating companies and Network Rail - advises passengers travelling through affected areas that "services will be severely disrupted this evening". 

Passengers should check before they travel and consider travelling earlier if they can in order to get home."

Some more flood pictures from Essex

Traffic driving on flooded road
PA
This was the scene in Writtle, Essex, which has seen some of the worst flooding
Driving school car in flood waters
PA
This driving instructor swapped places with his student to get them through the floods, also in Writtle

Further thundery weather expected

Environment Agency warning

The Environment Agency says continued heavy rain could lead to further flooding across England on Thursday afternoon and evening, affecting homes and businesses and causing delays and cancellations on rail, roads and the Tube.

Torrential downpours across the South East, including London, could lead to further surface water flooding and significant disruption to travel on Thursday. If travelling, we urge people not to drive through flood water - it is often deeper than it looks and just 30cm (1ft) of flowing water is enough to float your car."

Doug Wilson, Environment Agency flood risk manager

Manor Park line travellers advised to stay away

Heavy rain has flooded Manor Park in east London, meaning train services between Liverpool Street, Shenfield, Southend Victoria, Southminster, Braintree, Colchester, Manningtree, Ipswich and Norwich are being disrupted. Short notice alterations, delays and cancellations can be expected, says Greater Anglia.   

View more on twitter

Amber warning for rain in London area

An amber warning for rain has come in to force in the London area, and will remain until 23:00 BST. 

The Met office says: "There is a risk of thunderstorms affecting the London area this afternoon and evening. Please be aware of possible disruption to travel and localised flooding as well as frequent lightning."  

Read more here

Wimbledon College of Art flooded during summer show

A bit more on the fire crew call-out at Wimbledon College of Art (earlier we were calling it by it's old name, the School of Art - apologies). 

London Fire Brigade say two crews from New Malden and Tooting spent two hours at the campus on Merton Hall Road pumping 3ft of water out of the basement.

The latest tweet from the college says the summer show is closed for the time being:

View more on twitter

Only dial 999 where 'risk to life or property'

London Fire Brigade has appealed for people to only dial 999 "where there is a risk to life or property" after receiving twice as many weather-related emergency calls between 1.30am and 6.30am as the brigade usually handles in 24 hours.

It has dealt with flooded homes, commercial properties and roads, as well as vehicles trapped by floodwater and properties struck by lightning.

Pictures: Puddle dodging and delays

A driver gives way to an emergency vehicle as it drives through a flooded road in East Hanningfield, Essex
PA
It's been non-stop for fire crews today - a driver here gives way to an emergency vehicle as it courses through a flooded road in East Hanningfield, Essex
Flooding outside the Grange Primary School in Newham, east London
PA
Puddle dodging was an impossibility outside this polling station at Grange Primary School in Newham, east London
Signs showing delayed trains at Victoria Station, London
PA
A depressing sight greeted rail travellers at London's Victoria Station - delayed, delayed, delayed