Who says Mother Nature doesn't have a sense of humour?
As seven million Britons prepare for their first hosepipe ban in 14 years, the Met Office is predicting two days of rain. Unfortunately for owners of dirty cars and parched gardens, the showers will do little to ease the drought hitting the North-West after its driest six months since 1929.
Water companies say Cumbria, the Pennines, Merseyside and Lancashire need weeks of higher than average rainfall to top up the depleted reservoirs and lakes. The drought conditions in the North West - normally England's wettest region - are highlighted in these stunning pictures.
Four months ago the Dovestone reservoir on the edge of the Peak District was full to brimming. Today, the reservoir - which supplies water to the outskirts of Manchester - is just two thirds full.
The North West is particularly vulnerable to drought because it gets most of its drinking water from reservoirs and lakes.
Today the Environment Agency said hosepipe bans were unlikely in the rest of the UK, where underground water supplies are still healthy for the time of year. Across Britain it has been the driest first half of a year since 1953 - and the second driest since 1929.
United Utilities, which supplies water in the North West, said Friday's ban on hosepipes and sprinklers was its first since the 1990s. The ban comes into force from 6am and covers Manchester and Liverpool.
It will not cover the area around Cockermouth which saw the worst floods on record last November. Water supplies for customers in Carlisle, Allerdale, Copeland and the north Eden Valley, are at 'reasonable levels', the company said.
Anyone ignoring the ban faces a fine of up to £1,000.
Householders have been told they can still use a bucket and sponge to wash their cars, and can still water their gardens with a watering can.
River levels are also 'exceptionally low' in parts of Wales, although Welsh Water says there are no plans for any restrictions.
A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: 'At the moment there isn't a threat of droughts for the rest of the country - although there is the risk to fish and wildlife in rivers in the south west, central England and North East if the dry and hot conditions continue.
'But we will need many weeks of dry weather before there's a threat to water supplies.'
The start of the hosepipe ban will coincide with at least two days of rain in the North West, according to the Met Office.
'It's going to be mostly cloudy with a band of rain coming across North Wales and northern England on Thursday night,' a spokesman said.
'The rain will linger over the North West for much of Friday, and there's a risk of showers on Saturday.'