Icy conditions and freezing fog forecast as temperature drops


After a week of rain and devastating floods, forecasters are predicting icy conditions amid a sharp temperature drop.

Continued wet weather on Saturday and high river levels has prompted further flood warnings in the north of England.

Sleet and snowfall, combined with clearer conditions overnight could bring a greater risk of ice in many parts, the Met Office has warned.

The sharp fall temperature is likely to lead to widespread icy patches and freezing fog in the north of England, Northern Ireland and parts of Scotland, it said.

The Environment Agency has issued 77 flood alerts across England and Wales, as well as a severe warning - classed as a "danger to life" - for the west Lancashire village of St Michael's.

Many householders in the village, which lies on the River Wyre, were forced to leave their homes earlier this week.

Work has been continuing to temporarily fix the breached defences with sandbags and clay but further downpours have halted that progress.

Affected residents were being accommodated in Garstang leisure centre, Lancashire Police said.

Areas affected by flood warnings include large parts of east Lancashire including Pendle, the Ribble Valley and Burnley, and large areas of West Yorkshire including Leeds, Dewsbury, Batley, Hebden Bridge, Todmorden and Cleckheaton.

Elsewhere, flood warnings were also issued in Preston, York and Rochdale.

Meanwhile the Environment Secretary has announced new flood protection measures for Cumbria, the worst-affected county, will be worked on by a new group formed to reduce the impact of extreme weather.

The Cumbrian Floods Partnership group will examine what improvements need to be made to flood defences in the worst-affected communities in the north of England, which have been battered by record levels of rainfall this winter.

The group will look at ways to slow vital rivers to reduce the intensity of water flow at peak times, and build stronger links between flood defence planning and local residents, Elizabeth Truss said.

Localised flooding of roads continued to take place in Cumbria which bore the brunt of Storm Desmond and led to the flooding of thousands of homes.

Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion Duke of Lancaster's Regiment have been helping with the clean-up in Carlisle, while world boxing champion Amir Khan brought welcome relief to the community when he led volunteers from his foundation and the international humanitarian charity Penny Appeal in giving practical support.

The teams served hot meals at at local community centre, handed out toys and Christmas presents to children and delivered food parcels.

Khan, 29, said: "It's very sad to see that people have had to leave their homes and all the furniture has been taken out of their houses and the floods have destroyed all the homes, the kids' toys and everything else.

"I just want to come here and give kids some new toys and bring moral support really."

Electricity North West said about 400 properties in Cumbria remain without power due to last weekend's flood damage, with its engineers continuing to carry out door-to-door safety checks.

Floods Minister Rory Stewart on Saturday visited Kendal where it is thought about 1,400 homes have been flooded.

He dropped in to Sandylands Methodist Church which has acted as a flood recovery centre for the local community.

The Rev Jonny Gios said: "The purpose of my bringing Rory here today was to highlight the issues and that we don't get forgotten as a town, and to help push for Government money to get back on our feet."

Mr Stewart, MP for Penrith and The Border, was told that housing was a major concern as the Rev Gios told him: "People are sofa surfing at the moment. They are in Travelodges and are being told you need to be out next week."

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, also attended the meeting and echoed the problems of homelessness in the town.