Severe flood warnings issued as more rain lashes Britain


Severe flood warnings are in place as rain lashes parts of Britain prompting a vast operation that saw the Army on the streets of Cumbria.

Five severe flood warnings - meaning that there is a danger to life - have been issued for the North West by the Environment Agency (EA) as forecasters said up to 4.7ins (120mm) of rain could fall in some areas already saturated by wave after wave of winter squalls.

The average rainfall for the whole of December in the North West is 5.7ins (145mm) - so not far off a month's rain could lash the region in hours.

The severe flood warnings - the EA's highest level of warning - are for two locations on the River Ribble at Ribchester and three locations on the River Calder at Whalley.

A red weather warning, the most serious alert, for heavy rain and flooding in Lancashire was issued by the Met Office this morning.

People are advised to move valuables and take advice from emergency services about evacuation.

Around 115 flood alerts and 100 warnings were also issued by the EA, mainly for the North West, North East and Wales.

The Government's emergency Cobra committee met on Christmas Day while a company from the 2nd Battalion, Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, helped committees across the North West build miles of temporary flood defences.

The EA said 85% of the country's temporary flood barriers had been sent to Cumbria, where rainfall has smashed records, and the Lakeland region braced itself again ahead of the deluge.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency issued five flood alerts and eight flood warnings.

Met Office forecaster Greg Dewhurst said the latest weather is "unusual" when the mild conditions enjoyed during December are taken into account.

"And as you can see from the rainfall figures from this weekend alone it's very similar to what we'd expect across the whole month, so it is unusual to see such a prolonged unsettled spell," he said.

Flood warnings extended across northern Britain, including the Calder in West Yorkshire and the Ribble, Wyre and Wenning in North Yorkshire, Wyre & Wenning. Pendle Water, Pimlico Brook, the Burrow and Hellifield Beck were also at risk of bursting their banks, the EA warned.

The Met Office expanded its amber warning of rain for Boxing Day, to encompass areas of Lancashire and western areas of both North and West Yorkshire.

Over high ground between 1.7ins (50mm) and 3.1ins (80mm) of rain is likely to fall on Saturday, while some exposed areas in southern parts of Cumbria could see up to 120mm.

A yellow warning of rain was issued for parts of north Wales, northern England and southern Scotland.

Forecasters are expected to review the area of warning this morning.