Big thaw and rain bring flood misery


Britain is bracing itself for severe flooding today as heavy rain is added to thawing snow and ice.

Forecasters predict much of the country will see warmer temperatures this week, prompting the Environment Agency to issue scores of flood alerts. The west of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are likely to be the worst affected and could see up to 25mm of rainfall today.

Snow on Friday night caused widespread travel disruption as some motorists were forced to abandon their cars on the M6. Snow also grounded planes at Leeds Bradford Airport.

The Met Office, which issued a yellow warning – to be aware – expected temperatures to rise to an average of 4C this weekend. It said 10-20mm of rain was predicted today, with up to 40mm in some hilly areas. Snow melt was an additional "uncertain factor".

Parts of Wales have already seen flooding this weekend, with the emergency services receiving some 300 flooding calls from West Wales. The Environment Agency has 80 flood alerts in place and issued five flood warnings.

The M6 motorway became blocked in both directions on Friday night between junctions 25 and 27, in Lancashire, when sudden heavy snow brought vehicles to a standstill.

Some of the stranded drivers passed the time with snowball fights and building snowmen, while others abandoned their cars completely. One man had to be taken to hospital by Lancashire police after becoming ill in his car while it was stuck.