UK faces July frost as summer evades north Europe

LONDON (Reuters) - Parts of Britain could see ground frost next week as summer weather continues to avoid northern Europe, lashing it instead with strong winds and heavy rain, according to the Met Office.

After the wettest June since record began many Britons enjoyed a weekend of good weather.

But more wind and rain forecast for this week is likely to be followed by plunging temperatures across the region next week as the abnormally bleak weather returns, including frost.

“They are talking about rural areas in central England, the glens of Scotland and Northern Ireland,” a spokeswoman for the country’s official forecaster said on Monday. “It is very unusual for the time of year.”

Before the frost bites Britain next week, most of northern Europe will be blanketed in dark cloud, chilled by cold fronts and doused by thunderstorms, the Met Office forecasts.

“The weather over Europe and the eastern Atlantic continues to be plagued by low pressure, keeping many areas fairly unsettled and cool,” it said on Monday. “Further out in the Atlantic, more cloud can be seen, and this is likely to arrive on Wednesday night.”

The cold, wet and windy weather is welcome for a power generation sector which has struggled in recent summer heatwaves to keep plants cool while hydropower reservoirs have dried up.

Last week, Switzerland’s hydropower reservoirs -- which help supply electricity to neighbouring countries stood at their highest level since 1999, according to government data, while Nordic and Spanish reservoir levels are also more comfortably supplied than in recent summers.

The longer the wet and cool weather continues in northern Europe, the more concern over the possible impact of sustained hot weather on French and German nuclear reactors should subside.

It takes weeks of sustained warm temperatures to heat river water up enough to cause problems for nuclear power plants that need it to keep cool.