UK weather live: Thunderstorm warnings for next week; drought declared as 5.4 million more facing hosepipe ban – Sky News

Yorkshire Water latest to impose hosepipe ban as drought is declared across large swathes of England; soaring temperatures of 32C forecast.
By Data and Forensics unit
High temperatures and a lack of rain have turned large parts of the UK landscape brown — with the change visible from space.
Satellite images show how conditions this summer have turned swathes of land from green to brown and yellow.
You can drag the slider to compare.
The majority of abstraction licences for the River Eden in Fife are being suspended from midnight on Saturday. 
The river is now at a “critical” level – the second-lowest ever recorded – after weeks of little rainfall. 
The move will be “devastating” for vegetable growers, the National Farmers Union said. 
David Harley, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency’s chief officer circular economy, told BBC News: “Having to impose suspensions on water abstractions underlines the severity of the conditions being experienced in the east of Scotland this summer.
“It is not a step we take lightly, but the evidence is clear, and it is one we can no longer avoid.”
The SEPA said the suspensions will be lifted as soon as possible. 
High temperatures are being seen across much of the UK today, and it’s also a similar story in Ireland. 
According to Met Eireann, 30.5C was recorded at Oak Park yesterday – marking the first time more than 30C has been recorded in two summer months since 1995.
It’s also the first time since 1976 that Ireland has seen over 30C during two consecutive months.
Holidaymakers have been told to stay away from Knoll beach in Dorset as a large fire has broken out. 
Local ferry services have been suspended and people are being told to stay off the heath. 
A large plume of smoke can be seen for miles. 
Fire crews are at the scene in Studland and access to cars and pedestrians is being restricted. 
Aerial footage shared by Cleveland Fire Brigade shows a huge wildfire that came scarily close to homes in Skelton. 

Luckily, fire crews managed to get the situation under control.
Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service has reported a huge increase in calls this month as the hot weather continues. 
Between 1 and 10 August, it took 1,605 calls – a 110% increase on the 765 calls in the same period last year. 
Fire crews have urged people to limit the risk of fires spreading by avoiding the use of disposable barbecues, properly disposing of cigarettes and not lighting bonfires or fireworks.
By Thomas Moore, science correspondent
Water levels in aquifers beneath Britain are exceptionally low in some areas after months of dry weather, according to new data.
The water, held in rock like a soaked sponge, overflows as springs to feed rivers and is also tapped to provide drinking supplies for millions of people.
But the Environment Agency says that at the end of July levels were below normal at the majority of monitoring sites across England – and “exceptionally” or “notably” low in the Cotswolds, South Downs and Yorkshire Wolds.
And they are likely to fall further, the agency warns in its monthly water situation report.
Sky News went below the Mendip Hills in Somerset to see the impact of the driest year so far since 1976.
We entered through Swildon’s Hole to an entrance cave that in winter has a stream surging through the darkness. The dry weather has reduced it to a trickle.
Our guide, Ben Shattock from Somerset Adventures, has explored the cave network many times.
Eventually we made it to the first tributary, called Rolling Thunder, a stream believed to originate from rain that filters through the soil and rock above.
It can take weeks or months for water to trickle down, which normally makes so-called groundwater more resilient to periods of drought.
But there wasn’t much water flowing in the tributary, suggesting the prolonged dry spell was having an impact, even deep underground.
The low levels will concern water companies.
The water beneath the Mendips provides Bristol with about half its drinking supply, and in Kent and Sussex the proportion is even higher.
At Balsdean in Sussex, Southern Water pumps out 172 litres a second from the chalk aquifer to supply Brighton.
Toby Willison, director of environment, said a second dry winter could cause serious problems next year: “I think what’s more a concern for us is the longer term.
“It’s the impacts of climate change and how we’re managing water supply for the coming decades if the sort of weather that we’ve seen this summer is going to become the become the norm rather than the exception.”
Images are emerging of firefighters battling a grass fire on Leyton Flats, east London. 
The scenes come as a drought was declared for parts of England following the driest summer for 50 years.
The change could lead to more measures such as hosepipe bans, however, the Environment Agency has reassured the public that essential water supplies are safe.

Firefighters from County Durham & Darlington Fire and Rescue Service captured this unusual moment while putting out a fire in Brandon. 
By Jayne Secker, presenter, in Germany
For centuries the River Rhine has been a crucial trading route running through the heart of Germany. But as I have seen at Koblenz it is shrinking – choking the shipping industry that depends on its ebb and flow. 
It winds its way from Switzerland, through Germany and out to the North Sea, carrying all types of cargo, from fuel and chemicals to food. It is essentially the M1 of German trade.
But it’s running at nearly record low levels and barges are having to carry just a fraction of the load they normally would to avoid becoming stuck on the riverbed. 
At the Port of Andernach, port manager Jens Lauermann showed us a shipment of steel coils used for food packaging. Bound for the US, the barge would usually take over 3,000 metric tonnes. But with river levels falling, only 750 tonnes will be taken today.
The company will need four boats to carry the same amount of steel – at four times the price.
The extreme temperatures are also having a profound effect on another iconic industry in the area: wine. 
I visited the Horner vineyard, where Reinhold and his family have grown grapes for nearly a century. From a boy he’s watched his land and its biodiversity change around him as temperatures spike. 
It’s been over two months since the grapes had a drop of rain and so every day, he criss-crosses the vineyard spraying 30,000 litres of water, artificially giving the grapes what the natural environment can’t. 
There’s only so much he can do as temperatures here have been around 40C and many of the grapes in direct sunlight have become so scorched they’re rendered completely unusable. Reinhold is having to consider changing the way he farms to adapt to climate change. 
“We will change in the varieties and have to harvest earlier. And it means we have to cool all the grapes. So life is different,” he said.
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