UK weather: No respite from storms set to continue into next week

More than 500 flood warnings and alerts issued

Forecasters have warned that there is more extreme weather to come next week as Storm Ruth batters Britain with gales, torrential rain, huge waves and yet more flooding.

Gusts of up to 80mph across southern England and Wales are causing power cuts, travel disruption and damage to property, combined with a deluge of up to 40mm of rain in places.

The West Country is now completely cut off by rail following a landslip on the line at Crewkerne in Somerset and flooding at nearby Bridgwater and Athelney.

The latest blow comes days after a stretch of the rail line connecting Cornwall to the rest of the country fell into the sea at Dawlish in Devon, when an 80 metre stretch of the sea wall was destroyed by high tides and stormy seas.

The winds have whipped up waves of up to 35 feet in Cornwall and along other exposed coastal areas, prompting warnings from the RNLI that onlookers could be “swept off their feet”. Forecasters from surf website magicseaweed.com have dubbed the storm an "absolute monster".

Severe weather warnings are in place, urging people to make provision for further flooding and power outages.

The Environment Agency has issued more than 500 flood warnings and alerts across the country, two of which pose “a danger to life”.

The misery caused by the wettest January on record shows no sign of abating, with forecasters warning of a “conveyor belt of storms” on their way to the UK.

 

Paul Gundersen, Met Office chief meteorologist, said: “We have another Atlantic storm bringing gales and heavy downpours to many parts of the UK this weekend.

"Monday is expected to bring a brief respite from the stormy conditions before more strong winds and rain set in from the west on Tuesday.

"This will bring the continuing risk of flooding and damaging winds bringing down trees to cause disruption to travel and power networks."

Amid growing discontent, Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles has ordered an audit of flood defences following Friday’s meeting of Cobra.

It was the second time the government’s emergency committee has met to address the flood crisis.

Mr Pickles said: "We continue to make sure every preparation is made before the severe weather expected this weekend and the following days.

"I want to pay tribute to all the people who have rallied to support those communities affected.

"I want to reassure the country that everything possible is being done to help those communities affected by these terrible storms, and work to be prepared for any further bad weather we may see in the days ahead."

Changes to the Bellwin scheme, which reimburses local authorities following disasters, should mean an extra £15million is available to cover the costs of defending properties in affected areas.

Gatwick Airport has waived fees for additional Flybe flights between Newquay and London to alleviate pressure on the transport system in the south west. .

The Ministry of Defence has put 1,500 personnel on standby to help in the south if needed.

The fresh storm comes as Royal Marines have been drafted in to help evacuate areas of the Somerset Levels after heavy rain overwhelmed local defences.

Since before Christmas, around 5,000 properties have been affected by flooding across the country and thousands more have had power cuts.

Additional reporting by PA

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