Floods warning amid further rain

Prestwich and Whitefield Guide: A motorist drives through floodwaters in Chichester, West Sussex, as forecasters predict a prolonged period of wet weather through Christmas A motorist drives through floodwaters in Chichester, West Sussex, as forecasters predict a prolonged period of wet weather through Christmas

Residents across the country are being warned to prepare for flooding over the weekend as further downpours are set to drench many areas.

More rain is forecast for Friday night, with up to 20mm expected to fall in some places leading to concern for hundreds of thousands of people who will be travelling ahead of the Christmas break.

The Environment Agency is warning people to be braced for more threats of flooding. Southern and south-western England, south Wales, the Midlands and the north-east of England are the places most at risk.

There are currently 239 flood alerts in place along with 67 more serious flood warnings where flooding is expected. But a severe flood threat that warned of danger to life in the Hampshire village of Wallington was lifted.

The agency said that many rivers including the Severn, Trent, Yorkshire Ouse and Derwent are continuing to rise following Thursday's rainfall.

Motorists are being warned not to use flooded roads, with an AA spokesman saying the service attended more than 320 breakdowns on Thursday due to vehicles getting stuck in floodwater along with a further 108 on Friday.

David Jordan, director of operations at the Environment Agency, said: "More heavy rain is on its way. This rain will be falling on already saturated ground, leading to a significant risk of further flooding over the weekend and into next week. We're urging people to use the respite in the weather today to prepare for possible flooding over the weekend."

The River Ouse in York is rising steadily, and levels are expected to peak later, while the nearby River Ure is also being monitored by Environment Agency staff as it rises. In Dorset the River Stour is rising and threatening farmland near Bournemouth.

In Wallington there was a severe flood warning as the River Wallington threatened to burst its banks. Residents from 85 properties were evacuated as a precaution, and a flood wall which had shown signs of cracking was reinforced. The wall held, and flood warnings for the area were removed as the levels receded.

Laura Caldwell, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, said: "We can expect a big band of heavy rain pushing north-eastwards across the UK. It will hit Cornwall this evening before moving north-eastwards and then turn up in central England tomorrow afternoon. By tomorrow night we've then got another load of heavy rain moving in from the South West."

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