By LUKE SALKELD, IAN GARLAND, EDDIE WRENN and GERRI PEEV
Rapeseed blooms in a field close to Stonehenge, near Amesbury. The vibrant yellow blossom has become a familiar sight in rural areas of the UK
Britain is taking on its usual spring appearance, with the ever-popular rapeseed crops blooming as usual, but today is expected to be the wettest day of the year with Britain getting a month’s worth of rain in just 24 hours.
Heavy rain and high winds will sweep across England and Wales and the downpour is set to continue on Thursday with thunder and even hail in some parts.
Many parts of Britain will get around two inches of rain in a day, the normal amount for a whole month. Around three inches of rain have already fallen this month and another three are expected over the next week.
'Today is set to be a very wet day with gales along the south coast,' said Charles Powell, of the Met Office.
'In parts of southern England there could be up to two inches of rain.
'A severe weather warning has been issued for some areas where there may be poor driving conditions and surface flooding.
The Darlington tornado: Lab technician David Rice took these pictures on Saturday
'Thursday and Friday will see a mixture of sun and showers.'
The cold wet weather is expected to continue into the weekend and even into May next week.
'It is a period of unsettled weather,' he added.
In contrast last April temperatures topped 28C and it was one of the warmest and driest on record.
The tornado lasted in the sky for about five minutes on a day of 'sunshine and showers'
David snapped the pictures on his mobile phone and rang home to see if his wife could see the formation
These photographs show the moment a tornado formed in the skies above Darlington. David Race was taking his son James, 10, home from a karate class when he looked out of the window and saw the funnel-shaped cloud forming in the sky at around 11.15am on Saturday.
The freak sighting comes as the country braces for a month's-worth of rain in the next 36 hours, but if you were looking for a silver lining - for instance, the end of our country's drought status - you are not in luck.
April is on course to be the wettest on record.
Feared for her life: The driver of this car thought she 'was going to die' after it was caught in rising floodwater following a night of heavy rain in Essex
The tornado appeared above rooftops as Mr Race drove down Carmel Road South in the tow. The lab technician for Newcastle University grabbed his mobile phone and filmed the tornado.
He said: 'I pointed it out to my son then we stopped to take photos.
'The tornado was in the sky for about five minutes, you could see the spout forming then the full funnel.
'It was incredible.The weather that day was sunshine and showers.
'You could see from the cloud formations there were some isolated showers and there had been some hail storms too.'
Escape: Rescue workers try to move the woman's Mercedes A Class. Authorities in Essex expect further rain and have warned drivers not to approach flooded roads
He added: 'It reached quite far down and it might have touched some of the rooftops. After a couple of minutes I rang my wife to ask if she could see it from our house, but she couldn’t spot it from there.'
Mr Race, of Darlington, who is also father to Adam, five, and married to Chetna, 35, added: 'We were very lucky to see it. I actually saw two circular clouds above Stockton about six years ago and I never thought I’d see anything like it again.'
In Essex, meanwhile, a woman feared for life after her car was caught in rising floodwater two-to-three feet deep.
The area had seen heavy rainfall overnight and the driver was left helpless when her Mercedes A Class became stuck.
Not the only one: This is the dramatic moment when a tornado hit the Outer Hebrides island of North Uist on Friday April 20th
A woman shelters from the rain in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, under a canopy of pink cherry blossom. The UK is due for yet another week of heavy rain and strong winds
Water companies and the Environment Agency warned the wet weather isn't going to be enough to replenish near-empty reservoirs and allow them to lift the hosepipe ban.
Most of the excess water is either swallowed up by thirsty plants, evaporates or just runs off dry soil.
A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: 'While we’ve had some welcome rain this week, the environmental drought affecting large parts of England could last until Christmas. 'The soil is so dry that only steady rain over the winter will restore rivers and groundwaters.'
It looks like Brits will need to keep their umbrellas handy and their winter coats on - with an average temperature of just 7C, it's also set to be the coldest April since 1989. Just a year ago, Britain was treated to one of the warmest and driest Aprils on record. Temperatures topped 28C and some parts of the UK had less than 1mm rain all month.
Students Charlotte Garrett, 18, and Caoimhe Caffrey, 18, braving the weather while shopping in Bournemouth, Dorset. The hosepipe ban seemed a distant memory as torrential rain lashed the south coast
Isla Stanton, 5, enjoys the bluebells in Hole Park, Rolvenden, Kent. Much of the spring rainfall is taken up by growing plants