Flood alerts as more heavy rain is forecast

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The Independent Online

Flood alerts in many parts of Britain remained in force yesterday as a new band of heavy rain threatened Wales and central and southern England. Warnings covered eight rivers in East Anglia, 32 in the Midlands, 12 in the North-east and five in Wales, but temperatures were expected to reach 16C in southern England and East Anglia before the predicted downpour today.

Parts of Norfolk and Cambridgeshire were most at risk of flooding, the Environment Agency said. In North Yorkshire, seven people were rescued by RAF helicopter last night after their vehicles were stranded on the badly flooded A684 near Aysgarth in the Dales, police said. At Shrewsbury, the Environment Agency was erecting flood barriers.

The cold snap which brought snow and freezing weather last week will be replaced by warmer temperatures and rain. "In the next three days, flooding is the main concern," Tony Conlan at PA WeatherCentre said.

"A band of rain will move very slowly south-eastwards across Wales during Tuesday and Wednesday. There will be a good inch of rain in most places but up to two to three inches on higher ground. There is likely to be localised flooding. There is the potential for temperatures to reach 16C this week. It's the sort of temperature you are more likely to see in early to mid-May."

North and West Wales will have the heaviest rain today and tomorrow. It will move into Central and South-east England tomorrow but fall away overnight.

AA Roadwatch said gales on Saturday and through Sunday night - mostly over South-west England and along the south coast - had caused problems on roads, with trees felled and signs blown down. But the spokesman said roads or bridges which had been closed had been reopened.

The Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight were hit by hurricane-force winds up to 83mph. But over southern England and Wales the gusts reached up to 70 mph. The QE2 bridge at Dartford over the Thames reopened at midnight after gusts of 63mph were recorded. An AA spokesman said that a surge of insurance claims was expected.

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