Risk of further flooding in UK as Xynthia approaches

Flood warnings were issued across much of Britain last night as the tail end of the Atlantic storm that caused so many fatalities on mainland Europe threatened to batter the UK. The storm, nicknamed Xynthia, is expected to brush Britain en route to Scandinavia.

The Environment Agency issued an alert of serious flooding which could put lives and property at risk in Cambridgeshire. Suffolk, Buckinghamshire, Essex and Bedfordshire were also put on alert. North Yorkshire was also warned of a risk of flooding, in particular the coastal village of Sandsend. Roker, Sunderland, was placed on standby. The Thames Barrier was raised to reduce the risk of flooding to the west of the capital.

Two flood watches were in force in Scotland for the east coast from Berwick to Peterhead, and the Solway Firth from the Esk Estuary to Loch Ryan. One hundred homes in Aberdeenshire were evacuated following landslide warnings. Two skiers were caught in an avalanche in Glencoe after heavy snowfall.

Days of heavy rain, followed by a further 20mm yesterday, with winds of 70mph, prompted fears of coastal flooding in the south-east of England. Homes were evacuated in Kent. Vanessa Robson, 53, from Beverley, East Yorkshire, died after her Land Rover was swept down a swollen river at Hartoft, on the North York Moors, at the weekend.

The wind is expected to persist for up to five days but today will mainly be dry, according to the Met Office, and the weather is forecast to improve, with the dry weather lasting beyond the middle of the week.