Thames barrier closed for second time in 24 hours

Flood warnings remained in place across the country today although the heavy rain which affected England and Wales is expected to ease off.

The Environment Agency had 26 flood warnings in force covering parts of East Anglia, Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear, Kent and West Sussex.

There were 143 flood watches in place affecting most of the rest of England and Wales.

The agency closed the Thames Barrier twice in less than 24 hours yesterday, most recently at 10pm to protect London from a combined high tide and tidal surge in the Thames estuary which was expected to raise the water by a further 50cm.

A spokesman said current weather patterns showed a substantial surge event in the North Sea, with large waves still a possibility in exposed coastal areas today.

Andy Batchelor, Tidal Area Flood Risk Manager, said: "We are continuing to monitor the weather and tidal situation closely and we will close the Thames Barrier again should we need to protect the 1.25 million people living and working in London's floodplain.

"These closures are the 115th and 116th times we have closed the Thames Barrier, and they serve as an important reminder to us all that living in the flood plain is never without risk."

The rain is expected to clear today and many people will enjoy a sunny Monday although there could be light, scattered wintry showers over northern and western areas.

Tomorrow is also expected to be dry and sunny but things could turn colder by the end of the week.

Yesterday localised flooding disrupted trains in and out of London.

A storm which left at least 51 people dead in France, Spain, Portugal, Germany and Belgium passed over Britain and brought downpours.

Southern Railway said services between London Victoria and East Croydon were disrupted due to flooding in the Clapham Junction area.

South West Trains said flooding at Fulwell, south-west London, caused delays to trains between London Waterloo and Shepperton via Wimbledon.

The flooding risk rose after days of heavy rain swelled rivers and saturated the ground.

Vanessa Robson, 53, from Beverley, East Yorkshire, died after her Land Rover was swept down a swollen river at Hartoft, on the North Yorkshire Moors, on Friday.