More than 100 extreme weather warnings, including 15 noting conditions were life-threatening, have been issued across Britain.
The Army was deployed across Cumbria as the government’s emergency committee Cobra met to discuss measures to protect lives amid the wettest December on record.
Lancashire and North Yorkshire are braced for “very severe” rain this morning, with forecasts warning Lancashire locals “widespread flooding will lead to severe disruption to travel and danger to life.”
Up to 100mm of rain is expected to fall in a matter of hours on Saturday in Lancashire, which has been placed on Red alert – the Met Office’s most extreme warning – ahead of the downpour.
North and West Yorkshire's alert was also upgraded to Red, with forecasters predicting 120mm would fall in high ground and exposed areas. The Met Office warned: "widespread flooding will lead to high levels of disruption to travel, deep, fast-flowing watercourses and an associated possible danger to life."
On average, 145mm of rain usually falls in the entire month of December – a total forecasters predict will be surpassed in just hours of torrential rain in Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire.
Across England and Wales the Environmental Agency (EA) issued seven severe flood warnings , 134 warnings and 118 alerts. The government body advises Lancashire residents to “be prepared, move valuables and take advice from emergency services about evacuation.”
The EA warned the River Calder, River Ribble and the River Wyre were all expected to flood.
Liz Truss, Environment Secretary, chaired a Cobra meeting on Friday night as more than 700 EA staff drafted in on standby ahead of the deluge expected this morning. 85 per cent of the country’s temporary flood barriers have been sent to combat the waters in Cumbria, according to the EA.
“People are working round the clock, and through Christmas Day, to help communities prepare,” she said in a statement.
In the north, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency issued eight flood warnings and five flood alerts.
Additional reporting by Press Association
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