After weeks of hot and dry conditions in most of the UK, with drought declared in parts of England, it might seem that a good downpour is what we need.

Why drought can lead to dangerous flooding

© Getty ImagesWhy drought can lead to dangerous flooding

But the heavy rainfall and thunderstorms forecast by the Met Office this week could instead be a hazard.

Scientists are warning that they could lead to flash flooding and are unlikely to replenish dry soils.

Here is why torrential rain may not be what our parched land needs right now.

Flash flooding

On top of two heatwaves and record-breaking temperatures this summer, many parts of the UK have seen far-below average rainfall.

This has effectively baked the soils, leaving them dry and hard with very low moisture levels, the UK Centre for Hydrology and Ecology says.

If rain falls in large amounts and at high speed, as happen in thunderstorms, the soil cannot absorb the moisture. Instead it pools on the surface. On sloped surfaces, that water rapidly runs off, causing flash flooding.

Why drought can lead to dangerous flooding

© BBCWhy drought can lead to dangerous flooding

The effect is like pouring water at high speed on to concrete, Dr Rob Thompson, a meteorologist at the University of Reading, told BBC News.

“Grounds of our gardens, parks and farmlands are now all potentially as dry as tarmac and concrete gets. Areas that aren’t tarmac will behave like tarmac when rain hits them,” he says.

The major effect drought has on soil is something called hydrophobicity, explains soil scientist Prof John Quinton, at the University of Lancaster.