Flood warnings as Britain is battered by high winds and heavy rain


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The Independent Online

High winds and driving rain have continued to batter Britain with the south suffering the worst of the April washout today.

Thousands of homes in south Wales, Wiltshire, Somerset and Oxfordshire have been left without electricity.

Wales and Southwest England took the brunt of the much of the bad weather, experiencing gusts of wind of up to 71mph in some areas.

Today, strong winds and heavy downpours continued to wreak havoc across Britain after the wettest week since December.

In the South West 2,000 homes were left without power and around 10,000 homes in South Wales and the Midlands suffered a similar fate, Western Power said.

Electricity outages were caused by falling trees bringing lines down and leaning on lines, or by debris hitting power lines a spokeswoman said.

Western Power said they were working with anywhere from four to ten times their normal fault investigation rate.

Reports of around fifty trees being felled by the weather were received by Cardiff council and the city set up an emergency response centre to deal with the problem.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service also said they were busy throughout the night.

There were also treacherous driving conditions with debris and surface water blown onto the carriageway of the A38.

The Severn Bridge on the M48 was closed in both directions to high-sided vehicles throughout this morning.

In the South East Essex police said a section of the A12 was closed near Chelmsford, after two crashes this morning – thought to be due to the flooding.

Matt Dobson, senior forecaster with MeteoGroup, said the south had seen the worst weather, with a gust of 71mph recorded at the Mumbles on the Gower coastline in south Wales.

Warnings of localized flooding for today and tomorrow were issued by the Environment Agency across parts of southern and eastern England, the Midlands and Wales.

There were a total of 17 flood warnings in place on the Environment agency website.

A spokeswoman said, "It's not unusual to experience heavy downpours and some flooding - mainly of farmland - at this time of year, but we're continuing to closely monitor the forecast and rainfall particularly in areas along the Rivers Severn, Teme and Avon, including Worcestershire, Shropshire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire

"Environment Agency teams are out on the ground continuing a close watch on river levels as well as checking defences and clearing any potential blockages to reduce the risk of flooding."

The heavy downpours come as many of the southern areas of Britain are in a state of drought.

Though experts have said the current rain is welcome, it is unlikely to help alleviate the drought conditions in the longer term.

The Environment Agency said that despite all regions receiving higher than average rainfall, groundwater levels remain low.