UK weather: More misery for flood-hit Britons as rivers hit record levels and Met Office warns of further storms to come

As the country catches its breath from ‘wild Wednesday’, forecasters say Britain’s ‘almost unparalleled’ natural crisis is going to get worse

With Britain facing an “almost unparalleled” flooding crisis and still reeling from yesterday's winds of over 100mph, experts have warned that more heavy rain will see river levels continue to rise.

There are now 17 of the severest flood warnings in place from the Environment Agency, meaning danger to life, and the agency warned that the River Thames is already at its highest level for 60 years.

Around 65,000 homes remain without power as a result of the storm yesterday dubbed "wild Wednesday", and the disruption is expected to be compounded tomorrow by winds of up to 80mph and further persistent, heavy rain.

The Met Office has now upgraded its warning for rain to amber going into the weekend, alongside a yellow alert for strong winds, with the former bringing yet more misery to the "most sensitive" flood-hit areas of Wales and southern England.

Forecasters said there would be a "multi-pronged attack" of wind, rain and snow striking the country tomorrow. The heavy rain could lead to more flooding as downpours of up to 40mm (1.6 inches) could fall in just six hours, a Met Office spokesman said, taking the tally of rain for this week above the average rainfall expected for the whole of February.

As well as surface water problems the rain could also impact on already full to bursting rivers. The River Severn was recorded at its highest level since Environment Agency records began at Worcester today, though experts there insisted that there were no fears flood defences would be breached.

When the new storm hits tomorrow, large waves and very strong winds will create "potentially dangerous conditions" along the south coast, and the Met Office warned the public should "be aware of the potential for disruption to travel as well as trees being uprooted and damage to structures".

It means there is unlikely to be any respite for flood-stricken communities in the short term. The Prime Minister, who is set to lead talks today on Britain's flood relief effort, had previously warned the river levels are expected to peak again on Sunday and Monday.

The Met Office confirmed that after a mainly dry Sunday, the next weather system will not be far behind. Sky News weather presenter Isobel Lang said Britain should be prepared for two more strong storms next week.

She said: "Saturday will be rainy everywhere and while Sunday will be goodish, the next depression will bring more rain on Monday.

"Tuesday and Wednesday will be drier before another low brings strong winds hitting the south of the country on Thursday, which will continue into the weekend.

"One positive sign from the long-range forecast is that things may start to dry up into the last week of February, bringing some respite for the worst-hit areas."

 

The floods were described as an "almost unparalleled" natural crisis by the Army's Major General Patrick Sanders.

He said 1,600 troops had been committed and thousands more were available if needed to help communities deal with flooding.

"There's more that we can do and we want to do more wherever we can make a difference, so please use us, that's what we're here for," he said.

The Ministry of Defence last night said more than 2,000 military personnel were on "high-readiness" to respond to requests in flood-affected areas.

With some 5,800 properties flooded and no immediate end to the crisis in sight, Mr Cameron lead a new Cabinet committee on flood recovery, replacing today's scheduled meeting of the full Cabinet.

Mr Cameron promised on Tuesday that "money is no object" in offering relief to those affected by the floods, though Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin indicated that there would be "careful consideration" before money is spent on the larger rebuilding exercise after water levels recede.

Toby Willison, programme director at the Environment Agency, said: "This is an exceptional event, it was the highest rainfall in January since 1776 and we think it is likely December, January and February will be the highest for 250 years," he said.

Read more: In the eye of the approaching storm in Lyme Regis Billions could drop off the economy as storms continue Contaminated floodwaters could lead to norovirus spike EA staff 'were withdrawn from Wraysbury following abuse from locals'

Weather forecaster MeteoGroup said Capel Curig in north Wales had seen the UK's highest rainfall yesterday, with 35mm recorded from 6am to 6pm.

The Thames Valley has seen its third wettest winter since 1908, according to the University of Reading's Atmospheric Observatory.

It measured 12.5ins (319.3mm) of rain in the region since December 15 - compared with an average of 6.4ins (164.4mm) for December, January and February.

Andrew Barrett, a storm expert at the university, said: "It will be a miracle if this is not the wettest winter on the record - with yet more storms set to batter the UK over the coming days."

Additional reporting by PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

But if a real smoking gun is found, that might change things, says Tom Peck
Twenty two years later Jurassic Park series faces questions over accuracy of the fictional dinosaurs in it

Tyrannosaurus wrecked?

Twenty two years on, Jurassic Park faces questions over accuracy
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
Genes greatly influence when and how many babies a woman will have, study finds

Mother’s genes play key role in decision to start a family

Study's findings suggest that human fertility is still evolving
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
England can win the Ashes – and Elvis Presley will present the urn

England can win the Ashes – and Elvis will present the urn

In their last five Test, they have lost two and drawn two and defeated an India side last summer who thought that turning up was competing, says Stephen Brenkley
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)