Flooding alerts issued for parts of northern England and Wales


A large swathe of northern England and Wales is braced for possible flooding as another band of heavy rain sweeps across the UK.

The Met Office has issued amber warnings of severe weather for north west Wales and parts of north west England, and the Environment Agency says that Cumbria, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, and North and West Yorkshire are at risk from significant river and localised surface water flooding on Saturday evening and into Sunday.

Cumbria has been highlighted as the area most at risk as some areas of the north prepare for a month's rainfall in 24 hours.

Met Office forecaster Nicola Willis said high ground is likely to be most affected with up to 7.9in (200mm) of rain expected over the weekend onto already saturated ground.

Ms Willis said: "These areas have had a lot of rain already this week and they are already quite saturated.

"We are expecting the rain to be heavy and persistent, although the heaviest rain will not necessarily continue through the whole of the warning period."

Many areas covered by the warning are likely to see 2.8-3.9in (70-100mm) of rain, while some more exposed parts of North Wales and north west England could see as much as 5.9-7.9in (150-200mm).

The Environment Agency said its teams have been checking defences and deploying high-volume pumps.

It said two 24-foot long pumps, capable of pumping 120,000 litres of flood water per minute, have been dispatched to Cumbria from a depot in the south west of England.

On Saturday morning, two flood warnings were in place - for Keswick Campsite in Cumbria, and for the River Ouse at Naburn Lock, south of York - but there were also 45 flood alerts.

Natural Resources Wales said it was keeping a close eye on the Dyfi, Elwy, Conwy and Vyrnwy catchments in particular.

Craig Woolhouse, Environment Agency Director of Incident Management, said:  "River levels across northern England are already high and are expected to rise with this further heavy rainfall, bringing with them a significant risk of flooding. We are working closely with the emergency services and partners to prepare ahead of the weekend.

"Our teams are already in action clearing watercourses, maintaining existing defences and standing ready to deploy temporary pumps and defences where these can be effective."

This latest band of severe, wet weather to hit the UK comes in the wake of Storm Abigail which left more than 20,000 homes without power and schools closed in Shetland and the Western Isles as it swept across Britain. The Highlands and Islands were worst hit by gusts of 84mph while the rest of the UK experienced thundery showers as a result of Britain's first named storm.

The bad weather has also had an adverse effect in Glasgow, where the city's annual Christmas lights switch-on event, which was due to take place over the weekend, has been cancelled.

Natural Resources Wales said the Snowdonia area was expected to be particularly badly affected.

Scott Squires, from Natural Resources Wales, said: "We're advising people to take great care and to be prepared for flooding.

"The pattern of the rainfall over the next 36 hours will play a crucial part in our planning and in the risk of flooding.

"Our staff are out working putting measures in place to prepare for flooding. This includes erecting temporary flood barriers to protect areas at risk in St Asaph and Llanrwst."

Bookmaker Coral said it has had a flurry a bets on this month being the wettest November on record.

It said it had cut the odds from 5-1 to 2-1. Coral is also offering 7-1 that the UK mainland wind speed record of 173mph is broken this month.