999 crews prepare for worst flood since July

Emergency services were on alert last night and 250 weather warnings were issued as up to an inch of rain over 12 hours raised the prospect of flooding on the same scale as last summer.

By early evening, a total of 73 flood warnings and 165 less severe flood watches were in force after heavy rainfall throughout the United Kingdom.

As the Environment Agency issued a severe flood warning for the river Kym in Cambridgeshire, it emerged that up to 180 homes were at risk from flooding in the village of Burstwick, east of Hull. The river Humber's tidal gate has been closed to prevent water at high tide overwhelming the defences.

Rail services were severely delayed and a number were cancelled in the West Midlands, the South-west and Wales, with replacement buses and taxis ferrying people in Powys and Hampshire.

Fears were growing last night for towns further down the Severn that were hit by last year's floods, such as Upton-upon-Severn.