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
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Sport
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
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: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower