There were two main causes of this extreme weather. Firstly, warm moist air was being sucked in from the continent, storing a lot of energy at the surface. Meanwhile, from the west, cold air moved in and sucked the warm air rapidly upward.
The heat and moisture in the air were enough to cause thunderstorms, but the really intense storms were formed as an Atlantic weather front moved in from the west. As it 'collided' with the warm and humid air mass, air rapidly rose to create towering cumulonimbus storm clouds which were laden with water, and ripe for developing hail, thunder and lightning.
This led to several distinct lines of thunderstorms developing along the boundary where the two air masses met.
Watch this video for further clarification. http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/features/18652634
VIDEO - Rainfall radar of the storms:
- A Virgin Trains west coast service from London to Glasgow, which set off at 11:30, was stranded in the Lake District between two landslides. Hundreds of people were stuck on the Virgin London to Glasgow service for up to 15 hours
- Both main rail lines between Scotland and England were blocked by landslides.
- West Mercia Police say a man in his 60s died in flood water in Shropshire
- The Tyne and Wear Metro was completely suspended because of flooding and debris on lines in several areas. Meanwhile, the Tyne Tunnel was flooded and closed in both directions.
- Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service dealt with 170 flood-related calls in a few hours, whilst West Midlands Fire Service dealt with 282 incidents in 90 minutes.
- An inch of rain (25mm) fell in parts of Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Birmingham and the Black Country, in just two hours.
- There were also reports of hailstones the size of golf balls falling in the East Midlands. Residents in Burbage reported the hailstones damaging greenhouses and vehicles, while deep water has closed part of the Fosse Road North in Leicester and has caused problems on the A50.
- More than 111,000 lightning strokes were also detected across Europe, with more than 1,000 detected over the UK in a 5 minute period at the peak of activity
- Areas hit by power cuts included Whitley Bay and Shiremoor on North Tyneside, Alniwck and Prudhoe in Northumberland, and Stanhope and Consett in County Durham, with at one time 50,000 properties affected.
- Dozens of schools were closed, with many likely to remain so for days. The deluge hit the region on Thursday, causing travel chaos for drivers and rail passengers.
- Emergencies services dealt with more than 1,500 calls in Tyne and Wear. Police and firefighters also worked through the night to rescue many people stranded in their cars in gridlocked traffic.
Sources – BBC News, Sky News, Met Office