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Reading Festival revellers get a soaking as tents are left underwater

Hope they remembered their wellies! Revellers heading to Reading Festival get a soaking and tents are left underwater as thunderstorms and torrential rain batters south east

  • Reading Festival wakes up to flooded tents and soggy shoes as Britain was lashed by torrential rain today
  • Revellers hit with soaking start to annual music event – with more than 100,000 people expected to attend 
  • Thunderstorms and flash flooding smashed the UK today as up to a month’s worth of rain fell in just two hours 

Early arrivals to this weekend’s Reading Festival were waking up to flooded tents and soggy shoes amid a deluge of morning rain as much of Britain was lashed by thunderstorms and torrential downpours.

Revellers were hit with a soaking start to the annual music event, which officially kicks off tomorrow, amid fears there could be further misery and a washout ahead for the event’s 100,000 expected attendees. 

Those pictures arriving in Berkshire on Thursday morning were seen clutching their waterproof anoraks and camping gear, with thousands more festivalgoers expected to descend on the town throughout the afternoon.

Inside the camp site, a sea of tents were pictured barely propped up on the drenched grass as young revellers endured a wet start to the event, with the opening acts not playing until Friday.

It comes as the last remnants of Britain’s August sun were washed away by a blast of thunderstorms and flash flooding this morning as up to a month’s worth of rain fell in just two hours.

East Anglia and London were particularly badly hit by the wet weather, with Andrewsfield in Essex seeing 55.2mm (2.2in) of rain between 4am and 6am today – almost exactly the monthly average for the county of 55mm. Suffolk also saw 62.8mm (2.5in) of rain falling over Bury St Edmunds in just three hours this morning. 

Multiple flood warnings have been put in place across the capital while the Met Office issued a yellow thunderstorm weather warning from midnight until 3pm today for southern and eastern England – an area that is, ironically, partially covered by a hosepipe ban following the very dry summer.

Forecasters also warned driving conditions across the South East could be affected by spray, standing water and even hail throughout today – and there could be delays to train services, power cuts and flooding.

Reading Festival fans brave Thursday’s torrential rain and blustery weather as they prepare to kick off the annual music event’s festivities tomorrow

A group of young festivalgoers endure a wet start to the annual music event, with the opening acts not playing until Friday

Those pictures arriving in Berkshire on Thursday morning were seen clutching their waterproof anoraks and camping gear, with thousands more festivalgoers expected to descend on the town throughout the afternoon

Reading Festival fans arrive to the wet weather and a flooded car park as they prepare to kick off the festivities on Friday

Soaking Reading Festival revellers make their way from the drop off point in Kings Meadow to walk along The Thames Path to the site in Caversham in the rain

The last remnants of Britain’s August sun were washed away by a blast of thunderstorms and flash flooding this morning as up to a month’s worth of rain fell in just two hours. Pictured: A wet reveller clutches onto her camping gear

Festivalgoers were hit with a soaking start to the annual music event, which officially kicks off tomorrow, amid fears there could be further misery and a washout ahead for the event’s 100,000 expected attendees


Early arrivals to this weekend’s Reading Festival in Berkshire were also waking up to wet tents and soggy shoes amid the deluge of morning rain

A sea of tents pictured at Reading Festival in Berkshire as young revellers endure the wet weather ahead of the festivities kicking off tomorrow

A sea of bucket hats, camping bags, booze, and bright-coloured clothing washed the streets of Reading, Berkshire this week as youthful festival-goers made their way onto the camping sites by foot and squeezed into the shuttle buses running to the main gates.

Attendees lugging camping equipment on trolleys lined the streets approaching the major music festival in their hundreds this year a day before acts prepare to take to the stage on Friday. 

Meteorologists said that parts of East Anglia and South East England had already been lashed by around 5,000 lightning strikes between midnight and 8.00am this morning. 

Multiple flood warnings have been put in place across the capital while the Met Office issued a yellow thunderstorm weather warning from midnight until 3pm today for southern and eastern England – an area that is, ironically, partially covered by a hosepipe ban following the very dry summer.

The Met Office said today: ‘Outbreaks of heavy, thundery rain are likely to develop and move across east and southeast England from the early hours of Thursday.

‘Ten to 20mm of rain is likely over quite a large area but with some embedded thunderstorms some sites are likely to see 30 to 40mm in two to three hours and perhaps 5mm or more over six hours.

‘Lightning will be an additional hazard. The area of rain is expected to ease from the southwest before clearing into the North Sea during Thursday afternoon.’

Forecasters also warned driving conditions across the South East could be affected by spray, standing water and even hail throughout today – and there could be delays to train services, power cuts and flooding.

The wet weather comes after a period of searing heat which saw drought declared across swathes of England, with parched grass and struggling crops, streams drying up and river, reservoir and aquifer levels low, and hosepipe bans brought in for millions as heatwaves pushed up demand for water.

As of Wednesday, the UK as a whole had had only 46% of the average total rainfall for August. The bank holiday is expected to be largely dry with warm sunny spells, though possibly wetter in the North West.

Temperatures could climb to 30C (86F) or into the mid-20s depending on how the high pressure builds, the Met Office said.

Spokesman Grahame Madge said: ‘We’ve definitely switched from the hot and dry regime to something that has rain in the forecast.’

While the downpours will mean this month will ‘catch up a bit’ with rainfall totals, he said: ‘It’s certainly going to be a dry August for the whole of the UK.’

And he said some areas had gone without any significant rainfall from the middle of June until last week.

‘We’ve had below average rainfall for such a long time, it’s going to take a period of above average rain to make it up,’ he warned.

Reading Festival found itself mired in controversy just weeks ago when headliners Rage Against The Machine said they would not perform.

The band said they would not attend the festival as planned as they cancelled their 2022 European tour dates citing medical advice. This also included their planned performance at Leeds Festival.

Rage Against The Machine, best known for their songs ‘Killing In the Name’ and ‘Bulls on Parade’, had been set to headline at Reading alongside The Arctic Monkeys, Dave and Halsey.

The rock group was later replaced by pop band The 1975.

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