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The flooded road to Muchelney on the Somerset Levels. Image CC credit Nick nicksarabi

Record-breaking rain brings further misery and risk to the South

Early Met Office statistics for January 2014 show that the southeast and central southern England region has already had its wettest January in records going back to 1910, with three days still to go. With more rain predicted for today and the weekend, the likelihood is that the southwest will also beat that region’s highest rainfall statistics before the month is out.

The Environment Agency has warned that high winds and tides will bring an increased risk of coastal flooding along coastal areas of England this weekend.

Areas at risk on Saturday and Sunday include coasts and tidal areas of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire as gales and big waves combine to cause possible overtopping of flood defences and sea walls, property flooding and travel disruption.

Additionally parts of south-east England and Gloucestershire, north-west and the Yorkshire and Hull coast will also be affected by the wind, rain and high tides from Friday through to Sunday.

At the same time the risk of river flooding continues as with the ground already saturated, rivers are very responsive to rainfall. Groundwater levels also remain high in southern counties.

Flood barriers have been put up at Frankwell in Shrewsbury to protect against a rise in levels on the River Severn after two inches (5cms) of rain fell in Shropshire on Tuesday. Elsewhere on the Severn, temporary defences will be erected at Bewdley, and potentially Ironbridge, today.

On the Somerset Levels Environment Agency teams continue to operate up to 62 pumps, 24-hours a day, to drain an estimated 1.5 million tonnes of water (equivalent to 600 Olympic-sized swimming pools) off an area of the Levels spanning 65 square kilometres – the biggest pumping operation ever undertaken in the county.

Currently, around 40 properties have flooded on the Levels, while defences have protected over 3,500 properties and 200 square kilometres of land within the Parrett and Tone, and Brue and Axe catchments.

As of 10am this morning, there are 43 flood warnings and 164 flood alerts in place across England and Wales. A flood warning means that flooding of property is expected and that people should take action to prepare. A flood alert means flooding is possible so be prepared.

Kate Marks, Environment Agency flood risk manager, said:

“The risk [of coastal flooding] is highest for south west England and the public should stay away from the coasts and tidal areas and not drive through flood water. At the same time the risk of river flooding continues for the southern counties as with the ground already saturated, rivers are very responsive to rainfall. Groundwater levels also remain high in southern counties.

“In the coming days, the Environment Agency is likely to issue further flood alerts and flood warnings and we’d urge people to check their flood risk and get early warnings by visiting the Environment Agency website or calling our 24-hour Floodline on 0845 988 1188.”

 

 

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