Floods fear as more rain forecast in 'wettest April'

 

Parts of England and Wales were braced for more heavy rain and
potential flooding after a weekend of storms left one person dead.

A man and a dog died when the car they were travelling in became completely submerged in "5ft of fast-flowing water" as it drove across a flooded ford in Hampshire.

And with up to 20mm to 30mm (0.8in to 1.2in) of rain forecast for southern England tonight, the Environment Agency is on "high alert" for flooding amid fears already-saturated river catchments will struggle to cope with more downpours.

This month is already the wettest April across the UK in records dating back a century to 1910, according to provisional figures from the Met Office.

The figures up to April 29 showed an average of 121.8 mm had fallen (4.8 inches) so far this month, almost double the long term average for April of 69.6mm (2.7 inches) and beating the previous record of 120.3mm (4.7 inches) set in 2000.

There are 36 flood warnings in place, including 20 in the South West and a handful each in the Midlands, North East and East Anglia. There were also more than 150 less serious flood alerts.

An Environment Agency spokeswoman said they remained on high alert for flooding into Tuesday across southern England but particularly in Somerset, Dorset and Devon.

"After a very wet weekend conditions have generally improved today, but further rain forecast for tonight means that there is still a risk of flooding across many parts of England and Wales.

"River flows are high after this weekend's rainfall and we are keeping a close watch on river levels as well as checking defences and clearing any potential blockages to reduce the risk of flooding," she said.

Over the weekend downpours and winds of up to 70mph in south-west England and Wales brought down trees, left thousands of homes without power and disrupted rail services, while low-lying fields and some roads were submerged.

The Environment Agency said only 20 properties had been flooded across the country, while thousands were protected by flood defences, including 600 homes in Taunton and 25,000 properties along the River Don through Doncaster and Bentley.

Unfinished flood defences in Upton upon Severn which were shored up over the weekend kept water out of the town and Tewkesbury suffered some localised flooding, but nothing unusual for the area.

However, the bad weather claimed its first casualty today when a man from the Middlesex area died in his car in Compton Wood, Hampshire, after the vehicle became "completely submerged".

His 54-year-old wife was able to escape from the car, but the man had to be recovered from it and was pronounced dead at the scene. The dog also died in the incident, according to fire crews who attended.

Inspector Jon Snook, from Hampshire police's roads policing unit, said: "We believe the car drove into the ford from the Hampshire side where it appears as though it was swept downstream and became submerged.

"On arrival, we co-ordinated a rescue operation with the fire service to try and free the man. Unfortunately, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

"We know that the ford was flooded and we are now conducting an investigation to establish the exact circumstances of this incident and will be preparing a file for the coroner."

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said it had attended seven separate incidents across Devon and Somerset in the past two days in which vehicles had become stuck in floodwater.

The fire service warned of the possibility of heavy, localised downpours as people were driving to work tomorrow morning, and urged drivers to be aware of possible flooding and not to risk their lives by driving through any flood water.

Elsewhere, Badminton horse trials were cancelled as the ground was "totally waterlogged and partially flooded" and with more rain coming, organisers said there was no chance of the course drying out before the event began on Thursday.

In Somerset, Taunton Deane Cricket Club was submerged under water, in Wiltshire fallen trees caused dozens of incidents and two roads had to be closed due to flooding, and in Devon, the Torquay-based attraction Living Coasts was closed because of the weather.

Despite the heavy rain, swathes of England are still in a state of drought, with warnings that the downpours were not enough to counteract the effects of two unusually dry winters.

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: "Following two dry winters and record low levels of rainfall, water reserves are still under pressure in many parts of the UK.

"While we welcome the rain we have received recently, we cannot be complacent and still need everyone to save water where they can."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick