A 70-YEAR-old woman escaped unharmed after a lightning strike destroyed two houses in Hampshire this morning.

It comes as thunderstorms batter the south of England after a week of a blistering 30C heatwave.

Two houses were engulfed in flames as a lightning bolt struck the semi-detached homes causing them to go on fire.

Fire crews were called to the address in Mercia Avenue, Andover this morning.

The 70-year-old woman was assessed by paramedics but did not require hospital treatment, according to Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service.

A spokesman said: "Crews from Whitchurch, Amesbury, Ludgershall, Winchester, Overton, Basingstoke and Rushmoor were called to Andover early this morning following a house struck by lightning.

"Two semi-detached houses were severely damaged in the incident.

"A 70-year-old female was assessed by ambulance crews on the scene but was not taken to the hospital."

On Thursday a fallen tree forced train passengers to leave a tram and walk for 30 minutes along the tracks in heavy rain and lightning storms.

Extreme weather led to a tree falling on the tracks between Prestwich and Heaton Park in Greater Manchester, reports MEN.

Flood warnings have been issued as thunderstorms will end the UK's scorching 32C heatwave just as 11.5m drivers hit the roads this weekend.

The Met Office has warned of "tricky travelling conditions" as 55mph winds will batter coastal areas.

Thunderstorms hit parts of sun-soaked England last night and will continue all weekend.

The forecasting service's yellow thunderstorm warning for today and tomorrow comes as the RAC predicted 11.5million journeys will have been made by Sunday.


That's on top of the 2.3m trips today as motorists head off for their family summer getaway.

Traffic site INRIX predicted a 29 per cent increase in delays on Friday, compared to typical July travel times.

Government meteorologists have issued warnings torrents of rain, flash flooding, power cuts and travel chaos.

The Met Office alert across southern and central England remains in force until Monday morning with up to four inches likely to drench the region.

Meteorologist David Oliver said storms will arrive as temperatures ease over the weekend.

He said: “This yellow rain warning comes as temperatures are set to dip for many areas over the weekend.

“A spell of rain, heavy in places perhaps with some thunder, moves in from the southwest late on Friday and into Saturday.

“This is followed up by an unsettled weekend for much of England and Wales with showers breaking out widely.


“Some very heavy showers or thunderstorms are on the cards, especially during Sunday.”

But it's a case of packing both your brolly and your sunglasses.

Friday marked the end of England's unprecedented extreme heat warning that has seen temperatures reach a scorching 32C.

But you'll want to keep the fans out as the temperatures will fall only slightly.

The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning across much of England and Wales today and tomorrow, possibly causing delays and cancellations to train and bus services.

There is a small chance that some communities could become cut off by flooded roads and there could be power cuts, it said.

According to the Met Office, heavy showers and thunderstorms will develop across southern parts over the weekend, before edging further north by Monday.

Parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland, in contrast, were looking likely to stay fine and very warm throughout.

The wet weather comes after a hot, mostly dry week; England recorded its hottest temperature of the year on Tuesday, with 32.2C recorded at Heathrow Airport in west London.

New highs of the year were also recorded in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said temperatures wouldn't be plummeting on Friday, but they would still be "on the high side".

"It's less likely to cause significant impacts like we've seen over the past couple of days," Burkill said.

A heat warning remains in place in Northern Ireland.


Earlier this week, Devon and Cornwall Police said that “most” parts of the South West of England had been put on amber wildfire alert.

However, on a graphic showing the highest-risk areas, the two counties were almost entirely engulfed by a red "high" or "very high" alert.

With a history of moorland fires and farmland infernos, the Devon and Cornwall have already seen several this year.

In February, a fire ravaged through Dartmoor in what was suspected to be an arson attack.

People could see the blaze from about 20 miles away in Plymouth as the flames lit up the night sky.

The heat resulted in roads "melting like chocolate" and train lines buckling earlier in the week even prompted the Met Office to issue its first-ever extreme heat warning.

Forecasters have issued a yellow weather warning for Saturday and Sunday, covering most of England and Wales.

It warns of a risk of flooding, "difficult driving conditions" and potential power cuts, as well as loss of other services to some homes and businesses.

Stephen Dixon, a spokesperson for the Met Office, said: "Late on Friday, a band of heavy and thundery rain will migrate from the south-west of the country."

And there was the potential of up to 100mm of rain in some locations over the weekend, such as either side of the Bristol Channel.

However, Northern Ireland and Scotland look set to hold on to higher temperatures for longer, with both expected to be relatively dry and fine with temperatures in the low 20s.


Although the blistering heatwave is expected to end this weekend, it is just on pause with a second sizzler set for early next month.

The Met Office predicts: "Into early August, warmer and drier-than-average conditions look likely to return for much of the UK.'

"By mid-August confidence becomes rather low, but with changeable conditions most likely.

"Above-average temperatures continue to be signalled for much of the period, perhaps becoming very warm or hot at times in the south."

Bookies have slashed odds to just 10/11 on this month being the hottest July on record.

Meanwhile, the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) said it is aware of 18 incidents of accidental loss of life in the water between July 17-20.

The latest victim was a teenager who had gone missing in the River Dee on Thursday afternoon.

There was also another report of people going missing in the water.

Lee Heard, RLSS UK's charity director, said: "Whilst we recognise how tempting it is to cool off in the UK's beautiful waterways, they hide hazards that tragically take lives each year and we urge the public to use caution when entering the water, getting acclimatised to the water temperature before jumping in.

"The difference between the air temperature and water temperature can literally take your breath away; this is called cold water shock. It is silent, invisible and deadly.

"Water can also hide debris, strong currents and sudden changes in depth that can catch out even the strongest swimmers.

"The Royal Life Saving Society UK urge everyone to learn vital skills and knowledge to prevent future accidental drownings."

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