U.K. Braces for More Floods as Heavy Rain PersistsAlex Morales and Gabi Thesing
The U.K. is braced for more flooding with heavy rain forecast to persist throughout the weekend, affecting the south and west in particular.
The Met Office issued a yellow warning for heavy rain today in southeastern England, including the already flood-stricken county of Kent. The Environment Agency ended all severe flood warnings, while forecasting a medium risk around the Thames in Oxfordshire tomorrow.
“We’re seeing a series of weather fronts bringing rain and wind from the Atlantic,” Nicola Maxey, a spokeswoman for the Met Office, said in a telephone interview. “The rain is falling on already wet ground and the fronts are coming through so quickly that the ground isn’t having time to dry out.”
Rains forecast for today and tomorrow add to the winter misery for Britons. Floods have affected more than 1,550 properties across England and Wales since a storm that struck on Dec. 23, according to the Environment Agency. That cut power to more than half a million homes at its peak, and left thousands without electricity or heating on Christmas Day.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson yesterday led a meeting of the government’s emergency committee in London as homes were flooded from Polperro in the southwest to Yalding in the southeast. The winds, rains and floods disrupted rail services by operators including Arriva Trains and CrossCountry.
London’s Gatwick Airport said flights were operating “as normal” from both of its terminals today following strong winds overnight. It said in an e-mailed statement it has protected substations and switch rooms with sandbags to minimize disruption.
As of 3 p.m. today, the Environment Agency said all severe flood warnings have ended, though 103 flood warnings and 260 flood alerts are still in place. There were 22 flood warnings in Scotland today, according to The Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
There’s a medium risk of more flooding today in Gloucestershire, according to the Environment Agency’s three-day flood risk forecast. London, the entire south and west coasts of England and Wales, and much of the east coast are listed as having a low flood risk. Tomorrow, only Oxfordshire has a medium risk, while the south and west coasts have a low threat.
In the past week, the River Severn, the country’s longest, breached flood defenses in Gloucestershire, and authorities closed the Thames Barrier during high tide to protect London from a coastal surge.
Looe, Polperro and Mevagissey in Cornwall and Dartmouth and Lynmouth in Devon, all in southwest England, were flooded by a combination of a storm surge and high tides, and 130 properties have been flooded since Jan. 2, the Environment Agency said yesterday. It warned that flooding along the River Stour in southern England is possible within the next 48 hours.
“The risk of flooding could continue throughout the weekend,” John Curtin, head of incident management at the Environment Agency, said in an e-mailed statement. “We would urge people to be prepared by checking their flood risk.”
As well as the rain threat to London and the southeast, where as much as an 3 centimeters (1.2 inches) may fall, mainly in a 6-hour period, the Met Office issued a yellow warning for snow today in Northern Ireland, northern England and southern Scotland. For tomorrow, there’s a yellow warning for rain in Northern Ireland and southern England.