Rain returning after brief respite


Britain's rain misery is set to return today with downpours and strong winds lashing the country at the end of the week.

After a dry period of respite for many parts of Britain yesterday, the wet weather will return this evening and get worse going into tomorrow as a slow-moving area of low pressure brings thundery showers and strong winds.

Many parts of the country will be affected by rain as the system moves north, with winds of up to 55mph in parts of the South East and East Anglia, according to MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association.

The Environment Agency said: "The concern is now for Friday and Saturday when the forecast is for heavy rain."

Although there have been heavy showers in parts of the South West, Wales and the North West, parts of the country which were on flood alert after days of heavy rain were given breathing space yesterday with clear skies in the South East and London.

The break in the weather came as three of the UK's biggest water companies announced they would lift hosepipe bans, imposed to deal with drought, following weeks of heavy rain.

Thames Water, Anglian Water and Southern Water were to remove the restrictions in place since early April from today.

Seven water companies across southern and eastern England brought in hosepipe bans after two unusually dry winters left some groundwater supplies and rivers as low as in the drought year of 1976.

The Environment Agency had urged people in Devon, Cornwall, west Somerset, North Wales and parts of the Midlands to remain prepared for the possibility of floods as the Met Office issued a weather warning for heavy rain.

At one point yesterday the EA had five flood warnings in place for rivers where flooding was expected, and 21 less serious flood alerts.

There were also 17 flood alerts, mainly in East Anglia and the South East.

Sussex Police, West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service and council officers said they evacuated people from flooded homes in the village of Elmer, near Bognor Regis, after reports of flooding of up to 6ft in some homes.

Inflatable boats were used to reach 250 vulnerable homes, knocking on doors and searching properties to make sure people were safe and received the help they needed, a Sussex Police spokeswoman said.

MeteoGroup said that the highest rainfall had been at Culdrose in Cornwall, where 16mm fell, with 13mm in Nantwich, Cheshire.

Forecaster Tom Tobler said the bad weather at the end of the week could bring strong winds but not as strong as those experienced last week.