Forecast for rain raises threat of more flooding: Met Office predicts week will have wet weather on most days

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AREAS of southern England hit by severe flooding last week are preparing for another crisis after Met Office forecasters predicted more rain today.

Mopping up operations began after the relatively dry spell over the weekend which allowed the easing of some flood warnings.

However, the London Weather Centre said last night that it expected another inch of rain in some places - more than enough for a return of what one NRA official called 'the worst'.

The rain was expected to cross into Wales and South- west England and stretch across the South and East Anglia by last night.

Flood warnings passed the 150 mark last week. Yesterday there were still 131 warnings in force. Alerts of imminent flooding were in place on the river Lavant, in Chichester, West Sussex, and on the Ouse in Bedfordshire.

An NRA spokesman said: 'A day or so ago any amount of rain was threatening to burst banks. It would now take heavy rain. But an inch of rain would certainly do it.'

The damage bill is so far estimated at pounds 60m. Further floods could see that pass pounds 100m. The worst danger remains in Chichester, where the fire brigade said water levels remain very high. Despite efforts to divert the flood waters the NRA said the town was still 'critical'.

In Gloucestershire there were flood warnings in force on the lower areas of the river Severn; in Berkshire stretches of the Thames were still on alert, with 'serious problems' at Maidenhead; and in Bedfordshire a red alert was imposed on the river Hiz.

The Met Office forecast rain would cover the whole country this morning with drier weather later in western areas.

The wet weather is expected to continue this week. The London Weather Centre was unable to predict any let-up. 'There will be rain most days,' a spokesman said.

(Map omitted)

Science, page 21

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