Britain braced for severe weather

Yellow and amber warnings indicate potential to ‘cause danger to life or widespread disruption’

A man paddles his canoe past a flooded property in Yalding, southern England, yesterday . Photograph: Reuters/Luke MacGregor

A man paddles his canoe past a flooded property in Yalding, southern England, yesterday . Photograph: Reuters/Luke MacGregor

Fri, Dec 27, 2013, 01:00

Stormy weather is set to batter Britain with more wind and rain expected to exacerbate the effects of the storm just gone.

The weather overnight and through today is expected to cause travel disruption with people also urged to be prepared for flooding.

The Met Office has issued yellow and amber weather warnings, indicating “severe or hazardous weather” with potential to “cause danger to life or widespread disruption”. The worst-affected areas are expected to be northern England and northern parts of Wales, the Met Office said.

Meanwhile, the Environment Agency (EA) is warning of more “significant disruption” across southern England, adding: “It is possible that heavy rain may worsen the current flooding situation in some areas with rivers responding quickly to rain falling on already saturated ground.”

The EA said the disruption would be “ongoing” particularly in the southeast – such as along the River Medway and the Kentish Stour around Ashford and Canterbury.

Ongoing river flooding across the Somerset Levels, River Severn, River Thames and River Ouse in Cambridgeshire and rivers across Essex is expected, the EA said.

There are 53 flood warnings and 148 flood alerts in place, but the EA said the number of alerts may increase as rivers respond to the further band of rainfall. To date, there have been 1,200 properties flooded in England.

Helen Roberts, a forecaster at the Met Office, said a system will “push in from the west overnight” resulting in widespread rain, but “the strength of the wind is the main feature”.

Ms Roberts said it would get “increasingly windy overnight”, with severe gales likely on the west coast. She warned that northern parts of Wales and northeast England face a particularly stormy time through tomorrow with winds reaching upwards of 128 km/h (80mph).

Wind in western parts of Wales and southwest England could reach speeds of 112 k/ph (70mph), while inland areas could see gusts of 96 k/ph (50-60mph).

Ms Roberts said the weather “almost certainly will have some impact” on people’s plans, particularly because the ground is already saturated in some parts. The forecaster said it is likely that the new storm will “exacerbate problems” created in southern and southeast England earlier in the week, and that there was “likely to be some transport issues”.

She described this week’s weather as “unprecedented”, and said it was the combination of gales and heavy rain that caused the problems.

A spokeswoman for Gatwick airport said it was currently operating on schedule, and said wind speeds of 45 knots ars expected this morning.

“The airport said it had “additional teams of engineers, electrical staff and volunteers at the airport to minimise the risk of disruption from potential further flooding”.

The statement also reminded people to plan their journey to and from the airport between now and the new year because of planned rail improvements.

The latest storm warning comes after thousands of people were left without power and hundreds were affected by floods over Christmas.

Meanwhile, firefighters broke their strike in parts of England because of the storms earlier this week.

– (PA)

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