Fresh floods fear following heavy rainfall

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A fresh deluge of rain is threatening to swamp parts of the UK still waterlogged from the floods that swept across the north of the country over Christmas.

The Environment Agency (EA) has issued a number of red warnings across parts of Cumbria as the remnants of Storm Jonas, which blanketed the US in snow over the weekend, hit the UK on Tuesday morning with heavy rain and strong gales.

The Met Office warned that up to 100mm (3.9in) of rain is expected to fall over northern parts of the country by the evening, on ground still saturated by the floods that brought destruction to homes and roads last month.

As well as the red warnings, which come with the advice: "Flooding is expected. Immediate action required," the EA has issued a further 96 amber warnings to advise communities in the north, west and south of England, Wales and Scotland to expect flooding.

The Met Office has forecast similar warnings for Wednesday and Friday as rainfall is set to continue overnight.

A spokeswoman said: "Further north, across Scotland and northern England, the remnants of the US storm are likely to cause severe gales - of up to 70mph in Scotland - and bring 20-40mm (0.8-1.6in) of rainwater by Tuesday afternoon, with up to 60mm (2.4in) in exposed areas.

"In Wales, Yorkshire and south-west England, rain will reach around 30-50mm (1.2-2in) and up to 80-100mm (3.2-3.9in) in higher areas, mainly Wales. Locations along the Irish Sea coast can also expect some severe gales."

Pictures and videos posted on social media by Cumbria residents on Tuesday afternoon show heavy rain and blocked roads. Local police forces have urged drivers and people walking near the coast to take care, and the county council has warned of school closures.

Lindsay Mears, of the Met Office, said the impact of the rainfall in the county would be made "more severe" because land is still "saturated" by the three bouts of heavy flooding over recent weeks.

Following an emergency Cobra meeting organised by the Environment Secretary on Monday night, the EA has deployed a number of temporary defences and pumps.

The measures include carrying out work on the wider Ullswater valley in Cumbria, as well as in Appleby, Keswick, Cockermouth and Glenridding.

It has also put teams, including military personnel, on the ground across Yorkshire to inspect and repair defences.

Neil Davies, EA's national flood duty manager, said: "With heavy rain this week, people in the North and South West need to be prepared for the risk of flooding.

"EA teams have been helping communities recover from the severe floods over Christmas. We are now preparing for further flooding as rain is expected to fall on ground left saturated after the wettest month on record.

"There will be high tides on the coast of Cumbria and Lancashire which is expected to cause large waves and spray. We urge people to take care near coastal paths and promenades."

In Scotland, pupils and staff at a primary school were evacuated by boat after the building was cut off by flooding.

Danny Gibson, Stirling Council's environment convener, said: "Due to flooding on Lochard Road, Aberfoyle Primary School was closed and evacuated.

"Twenty-two pupils and staff, including 12 children, were evacuated with the help of fire and rescue service crews, who used a boat and two rescue sleds.

"We'll be working closely with our partner agencies to monitor the situation overnight."