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Hail ‘the size of chickpeas’ hits London and the South East amid thunderstorms

Londoners were left running for cover as the city experienced loud thunder and heavy rain.

24 May 2022

Thunderstorms have swept across London and the South East, with the wet and windy weather due to continue into the evening.

Londoners were left running for cover as the city experienced loud thunder and heavy rain.

Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said the weather was caused by air rising up from the surface and creating large shower clouds in a process known as convergence.

“We have plenty of showers that have developed across the UK, and the focus of those showers has pushed eastwards as we’ve gone through the day”, he said.

“We have seen some hail, some thunder, and some lightning.”

Mr Burkill said a funnel cloud has been seen off the coast of Kent.

“A tornado is a funnel cloud, except a funnel cloud becomes a tornado when it touches the ground.”

The funnel cloud was caused by movement in the air combining with the large storm clouds, he said.

However, he said it would not have been any worse than a “strong gust of wind”.

“Even if it had come down to the ground it would have been quite a weak feature,” he said.

“I don’t think it would have caused anyone any more problems than just a strong gust of wind.”

Mr Burkill said the wet weather is due to continue until the early hours of Wednesday before clearing up.

Loud thunder was heard across the South East, including in Hertfordshire.

Tea Francis, from Hemel Hempstead, had his sleep disturbed by a “loud thunder clap”.

“I was trying to get a quick nap in when I heard a pretty loud thunder clap & heavy rain starting to come down”, the 38-year-old jeweller said.

“Then it got ridiculously heavy and loud so I got up to have a look. By the time I stopped filming it and came downstairs, it had stopped, but the hailstones which were maybe the size of chickpeas were in small drifts up against the wall of the house.

“Amazing for a shower lasting maybe a minute and a half tops. I’ve seen weather like it before a handful of times over the years but not usually this late in the year and this stands out as being one of the more extreme cases purely because of how much hail was on the ground.”

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