Torrential rain causes chaos as rail, roads and properties are hit by most intense September storm for 30 years

 

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Torrential downpours and flood waters are continuing to cause chaos across Britain today, as forecasters predicted that more rain could fall throughout today.

Rail, roads and properties have been hit by what experts are saying is the most intense storm for 30 years.

Although forecasters say the conditions, which have seen some areas experience over a month's rainfall in 24 hours, should now start to ease - some areas could still see a further 20mm to 40mm of rain.

Hundreds of people have spent a second night in temporary accommodation after being evacuated because of the flooding. Since Sunday over three hundred properties have flooded including buildings in Durham, Chester-le-Street and Stockton on Tees.

In the North Yorkshire town of Tadcaster, which was hit by devastating floods in 2000, the town has been split in two by the closure of the bridge. Residents say the river is at its highest since the floods twelve years ago.

A number of businesses close to the river have closed this morning, but the Environment Agency says the river level has now dropped by 1cm.

The storm is set to ease tonight, but with showers expected across the UK for much of today 91 flood warnings and 136 less severe flood alerts remain in place.

Today parts of south Wales and southern and north-eastern England will be hit by the worst of the weather, however the Met Office has stressed it is unclear where the heaviest rain will fall.

A flood warning has been issued for the part of the River Severn that flows through the Gloucestershire town of Tewkesbury.

The town suffered devastating floods in 2007 and water levels are expected to hit their peak this evening.

Emergency services were kept busy yesterday with hundred of call-outs as people were stranded by the quickly rising flood waters, and overflowing rivers surged into homes and businesses.

A modern block of flats was evacuated in Newburn, Newcastle after its foundations appeared to have been washed away.

The Met Office said the wet weather was due to an area of low pressure measuring 973 millibars which had been recorded near the coast of the north east of England - the lowest in the UK for September since 1981.

MeteoGroup said Ravensworth in North Yorkshire had seen the highest amount of rain, with 131mm recorded since Sunday. Some 93mm of rain had fallen in Leeming, North Yorkshire, almost double the average rainfall for the village in September (50mm). Rhyl, north Wales, recorded 95mm of rain since Sunday, while Northern Ireland has also seen heavy downpours.

The Met Office said many places have had between 50mm and 70mm (2in to 2.8in) in the past 48 hours.

Heavy rain and strong winds are forecast to return to some southern areas today.

However, despite the wet weather continuing throughout today forecasters are cautiously optimistic about it easing.

Andy Ratcliffe, a forecaster with MeteoGroup said: "Today is not going to be persistent rain like we have had, it will be more showery, mainly across East Anglia, down into London and across southern England into Wales.

"There will be heavy patches of rain, and even the risk of the odd thunder storm, but as we go through to this evening and over night, many places will become dry.

"Tomorrow it is likely to be a day of scattered showers."

Despite the better news the Environment Agency has warned that rivers are likely to continue to rise throughout today.

Communities in Yorkshire, the North West and north Wales were urged to remain on their guard for further floods.

Flooding minister Richard Benyon said his thoughts were with those affected by the floods.

"I know from experience the devastating effect floods have on homes and businesses," he said.

He offered his support to local MPs in helping affected areas recover.

He said: "Right now we need to let the Environment Agency and emergency services get on with their jobs and I'd like to thank them for the tireless work they are doing to keep people safe and reduce the risk of further flooding.

"It's vitally important that people don't take dangerous risks at this time. Signing up for the Environment Agency's flood alert service will give people the very latest news on the risk to their area."

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