UK – Emergency Rescues After Flash Floods in Southern England

Thunderstorms in southern England brought torrential rain, large hail and flash flooding on 18 July, 2017.

Emergency services responded to flash flooding in Kent, Berkshire and Cornwall, where helicopters were used to carry out flood rescues.


Major flash flooding hit the coastal village of Coverack in Cornwall, on 18 July, 2017.

Torrents of water over 1 metre deep swept through the village after a period of heavy rain. Flood water and debris made roads in and out of the village impassable.

Two people trapped in their home had to be rescued by a coastguard helicopter.

Local authorities said that around 50 properties were affected and families were forced to evacuate. An emergency centre was opened in Truro’s County Hall by Cornwall County Council to respond to the flood situation.

Cornwall County Council said: “Cornwall’s emergency centre leading response to flash floods in Coverack. Members of Cornwall Council’s Localism team are supporting local residents affected by flooding in Coverack.”

According to the latest reports, all those trapped on their homes had been rescued and no casualties were reported.


The heavy rain was extremely localised, with none of the main weather stations in the area recording significant rainfall levels.

John Curtin, Executive Director of Flood & Coastal Risk Management, Environment Agency, said via Social Media that weather radar images show just how localised the Coverack storm was and that unverified totals look like 100mm of rain in three hours.

Social Media


Flooding was also reported in Tunbridge Wells in Kent. Fire crews were called out to assist flood victims and pump out flooded homes. No casualties were reported.


In Berkshire, local media said that a school of around 1,8000 pupils was forced to close on 19 July after flood damage caused by the storm the previous day.

The school Tweeted that 51mm of rain had fallen in just 2 hours.

The Reading University gauge recorded 40.2mm for the day, with 37.5mm of that falling in 1 hour.

The UK’s Met Office said that 42.4 mm of rain was recorded in 24 hours on 18 July in Reading.

Surface flood was reported in several parts of the large town of Reading. Local media said that “scores of homes, businesses and schools flooded and motorists getting stuck in deep water.”

Further Rainfall Warnings

The Met Office issued further warnings for heavy rain on 19 July.

“Thunderstorms, with locally torrential downpours will continue to move north across England and Wales in the early hours of this morning. Although the thunderstorms will tend to ease from the south later in the night, further, possibly severe storms may break out again this afternoon, probably focused over parts of northeast Wales, central and northern England. Although some places will miss the thunderstorms, there is a chance of localised sudden flooding of homes, businesses and roads. Frequent lightning and large hail may be additional hazards, the latter bringing potential for disruption to power networks. This warning has been updated to keep the risk going over southern England through the early hours of this morning.”

Flood Summary

Last updated: July 26, 2017
Southern and North West England, UK, July 2017
July 18 to July 20, 2017
Flash flood
Extreme rainfall
Flash flooding affected parts of southern England after heavy rainfall from 18 July.  Coverack in Cornwall, south west England, was particularly badly hit. From 19 July the heavy rain moved north. The BBC reported flash flooding in parts of Lancashire in the north west of England, including Blackpool, Lancaster and Carnforth.


A - Reading
B - Tunbridge Wells
C - Coverack
D - Blackpool
E - Lancaster
F - Carnforth


Rainfall level
100 mm in 24 hours
Coverack - July 18 to July 19, 2017
Estimated figures
Rainfall level
42.4 mm in 24 hours
Reading - July 18 to July 19, 2017
Rainfall level
32 mm in 24 hours
Blackpool Airport - July 19 to July 20, 2017


2 people
Coverack - July 18 to July 18, 2017
At least 2 people were rescued by coastguard helicopter. Fire services also carried out rescues although no exact figures are available.
Homes damaged
50 homes
Coverack - July 18 to July 19, 2017
Homes damaged
9 homes
Lancashire - July 19 to July 20, 2017