The number of flood warnings in force across England and Wales has increased as more heavy rain, gale-force winds and snow is forecast.
A fresh band of heavy rain moved into the south-west of England and Wales on Sunday morning – provoking a yellow weather warning for the already-drenched valleys of South Wales.
Forecasters warned flood-hit communities to brace themselves for further bad weather with heavy rain, high winds and snow predicted for Monday.
The gloomy forecast came as Environment Secretary George Eustice defended Prime Minister Boris Johnson for defying calls to visit flood-stricken areas.
He told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “It’s not true that the Prime Minister’s not been engaged in this.”
Mr Eustice said: “In a cabinet Government it’s not a one-man show, it’s right that on certain operational things such as this that the Prime Minister will ask one of his Cabinet members to lead, I can’t see anything wrong with that.”
On Sunday morning, the number of flood warnings in force in England increased to 86 – spanning an area from Dorset to Carlisle – along with 183 flood alerts.
The two remaining severe flood warnings on the River Lugg, in Herefordshire, were downgraded on Saturday,
In Wales, the number of flood warning in force increased to 14 on Sunday, with 28 alerts.
Met Office forecaster Marco Petagna said Sunday afternoon should see a short respite from the more stormy conditions but warned of a fresh wave of bad weather coming in overnight.
Valid from midnight tonight until midday Monday
— Met Office (@metoffice) February 23, 2020
He said: “I’m afraid we hold onto unsettled weather conditions across the UK over the next few days. We will see spells of wet and windy weather at times and there’ll be some snow in the north at times too.
“Monday looks unsettled across all areas. We’ll see wet and windy weather sweeping from the south-west – gales or severe gale-force winds in place, and some snow towards the north of the UK.”
The Met Office has issued a series of weather warnings for Monday. These are for snow across Scotland from 3am to 10pm; snow and rain across northern England from 2am to 3pm and rain and snow across Northern Ireland between midnight and noon.
An Environment Agency spokesman said the further expected heavy rain meant that “flood risk continues with the impacts of stormy weather continuing to be felt across England”.
He said: “Further rain is expected over the weekend and during Monday, this heavy and persistent across parts of the north of England.
“This could lead to further flooding, particularly for rivers draining the Pennines, and for parts of the Midlands and the City of York where this rain will fall on saturated catchments where river levels are already high.
“River levels remain high and ongoing river flooding is probable for the River Severn this weekend and into next week.”
While the extreme weather should settle down over Tuesday and Wednesday – accompanied with a notable dip in temperatures – the Met Office said further heavy rain is expected later in the week.
The bleak outlook follows more than a fortnight of downpours and flooding that started with Storm Ciara, continued with Storm Dennis and then kept going with the storms over the weekend, which – contrary to some reports – have not been named by the Met Office.