Widespread flooding hits mainland Europe 2016

Photo: Over the last 48 hours, there have been almost 350,00 lightning strikes across europe. SourceLightningmaps.org

Thunderstorms and torrential downpours across Europe at the start of meteorological summer, have left at least 10 people dead and left several others seriously injured. 

The severe weather started over the weekend of the 28th and 29th May, covering a vast area of mainland Europe, stretching from NW France, across Germany to Poland. Although pockets of thunderstorms are not unusual for the time of year, the weather on the Sunday was out of the ordinary with over 300,000 lightning strikes recorded over the continent during daylight hours.  

The worst of the weather has been across France and Germany, with 50mm, or 2 inches, of rain falling in some areas over just a few hours, resulting in flash flooding, with the roofs of cars only just visible through the rising water levels. The Loiret area, 100 miles to the south of Paris, received 6 weeks worth of rainfall in just three days, leading to France declaring a state of natural disaster. In Paris, 11 people, mainly children were struck by lightning whilst taking shelter under a tree. 33 people were seriously injured by the lightning at a football match in Germany, and one fatality was reported in Poland, after a man was struck by lightning climbing down a mountain. 

The unsettled weather is the result of an extreme blocking pattern, caused by a massive ridge of high-pressure aloft across the eastern North Atlantic. This is causing the low pressure system that is over northern mainland Europe to remain relatively stationary. This system, combined with the warm, moist area being pulled up from the Mediterranean, is continuing to fuel the storm with energy, hence allowing the heavy showers to persist. Further thunderstorms and heavy showers are expected over the next few days, with the water level to rise further.