The UK is expected to receive a month’s worth of rain today, making it the wettest day of the year so far.
24 flood warnings have been issued across drought-hit southern England, as high winds and up to two inches of rain swept the UK. Forecasters predict the bad weather will continue into May.
There was localised surface water flooding in Devon and Cornwall, with warnings of potential flooding in north west England, the Midlands and Wales.
The rain is being accompanied by strong winds and, on mountains and high hills, significant snow fall has been predicted.
In Portsmouth winds brought down scaffolding, seriously damaging at least four cars.
Police said nobody was injured when the scaffolding fell from the fifth floor of the Royal Beach Hotel on Southsea seafront, but added that structural engineers were now checking the site.
An Environment Agency spokesman said: "Staff have been out on the ground clearing blocked drainage screens across St Austell, Pentewan, Mevagissey, Porthtreath and Bude. We also closed the flood gate on the River Batherm in Devon."
The agency has previously warned that the drought gripping swathes of England could increase the risk of flash flooding as rain is less easily absorbed by dry, compacted soils, instead running off and causing localised floods.
Netweather forecaster Paul Michaelwhite was quoted as saying: “It’s an April washout rather than April showers as unusually-deep, autumnal-type Atlantic low pushes across the south.
"This is an unusually active depression for the time of year, as the Atlantic is traditionally at its quietest during mid-to-late spring".
The Met Office website stated: “A band of heavy rain will move north across southern parts of England and Wales during Tuesday night, followed by heavy and locally thundery downpours for Wednesday. The rain will be accompanied by strong and gusty southeasterly winds. The public should be aware that heavy rain may lead to localised surface water flooding and poor driving conditions.”
It added: "Outbreaks of rain will become persistent and at times heavy during Wednesday afternoon and evening across Angus and Aberdeenshire, especially over higher ground. Accumulations of 15-25 mm are expected with hilly areas inland perhaps receiving local accumulations of 35 mm by midnight. On higher hills and mountains, significant falls of snow will occur."