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Flood warnings in place across England and Wales as heavy rain and strong winds hit UK

Downpours on already sodden ground cause disruption as wind gusts of up to 70mph hit

Jane Dalton
Friday 23 February 2024 03:24 GMT
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UK weather: The latest Met Office forecast

Schools were forced to close and rail passengers faced disruption as heavy rain swept across much of England and Wales, leaving many areas facing flood warnings and alerts.

The downpours on Wednesday, falling on already sodden ground, led to roads being closed and rivers bursting their banks.

Met Office experts had issued three yellow warnings for rain, covering most of southern, southwestern, central and eastern England, as well as parts of south Wales.

They had warned of the potential for travel disruption, power cuts and dangerous conditions near coasts.

Roads in the Somerset Levels in Somerset started to flood

On Thursday night, the Environment Agency issued 73 flood warnings, meaning flooding is expected, and 274 flood alerts in England. National Resources Wales issued two flood warnings and 22 flood alerts.

In Herefordshire and Worcestershire, several schools closed because of rising flood levels and treacherous road conditions, councils said.

In Gloucestershire, Tewkesbury Borough Council distributed sandbags to householders. A number of roads in the county were closed because of flooding.

Flooded fields near to Glastonbury Tor, Somerset, on Thursday

An estimated 30mm-40mm of rainfall – about a week’s worth – came down in the East Midlands, east of England, London and southeast England, the southwest and West Midlands.

Met Office chief meteorologist Paul Gundersen said: “This is falling on saturated ground, which elevates the chances of flooding and disruption.”

Many roads across the West Midlands in particular were submerged and rail operators worked to try to get services running again.

Transport for Wales and West Midlands Railway services operated a replacement bus service between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton.

Flood warnings and alerts issued across England after heavy downpours on Thursday

Flooding halted CrossCountry rail services between Birmingham New Street and Cheltenham Spa for a time, although passengers were warned of more cancellations or delays.

Great Western Railway said flooding had disrupted services between Plymouth and Newton Abbot, with CrossCountry trains from Penzance also affected.

Met Office shipping forecasters issued 20 gale warnings for sea areas including Plymouth, Thames, Wight and Dover.

Red Funnel Ferries warned that high winds could disrupt its service between Southampton and West Cowes, while WightLink ferry journeys between Portsmouth and Fishbourne were cancelled or delayed by four hours.

In Cornwall, St Mawes Ferry, which links St Mawes with Falmouth, was cancelled because of “adverse sea conditions and strong winds”.

An Egyptian goose protects its gosling from the rain in St Jame’s Park in London on Thursday

Grahame Madge, a Met Office spokesperson, said: “The current forecast contains a typical mix of winter weather, including strong winds and heavy rain.

“In themselves these conditions aren’t exceptional, but following on from significant amounts of rainfall across February, then the cumulative effect means that river catchments are more sensitive to additional rainfall.

“During these warning periods we urge people to follow sensible advice and keep up to date with the warnings and the forecast.”

Friday is expected be breezy. Met Office forecaster Alex Burkill said that “a fair amount of rain” was likely to push across southern parts and possibly into central England and Wales, while further north it would be mostly dry.

Temperatures are forecast to be lower, more towards average for the time of year.

He said showers should reduce through Saturday, giving most areas a drier spell, before rain returns from Tuesday.

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