UK weather: Danger to life warnings for England and Wales as flooding predicted

17 December 2020, 14:27 | Updated: 17 December 2020, 14:31

Torrential rain is expected for the affected areas with up to 80mm expected in some places
Torrential rain is expected for the affected areas with up to 80mm expected in some places. Picture: PA

By Matt Drake

"Danger to life" warnings have been issued for the south-west of England and south Wales on Friday and Saturday as torrential rain is expected to bring flooding.

The Met Office has forecast wet weather for much of the country from Friday, with the worst of the rain concentrated in the south-west, where flooding is expected.

Sunny spells and light showers in northern and western areas of the UK on Thursday will be displaced by heavier showers moving in from the west on Friday, forecasters have said.

A yellow weather warning for rain is in place for Cornwall, Devon and South Wales, where flooding is likely and disruption to transport services and power supplies is expected, from midnight on Friday until 3am on Saturday.

Torrential rain is expected for the affected areas with up to 80mm of rain in some places.

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Around 20 to 30mm of rain is expected in western regions, with up to 60mm in hilly areas.

There will also potentially be gusts of wind up to 60mph.

The Met Office said: "Many areas are expected to see 20-30 mm, with Dartmoor and higher ground of south Wales likely to see some 60-80 mm.”

Met Office forecaster Alex Deakin said low pressure causing blizzards in the US is likely to reach the UK as "further rain" with "strong signals it will grow colder" next week.

He said: "The main feature this weekend will be this area of low pressure, (and) showers will spiral around that."

Temperatures are set to drop from a countrywide average of around 10C this weekend to single figures - though forecasters have said this projection is "very uncertain" and subject to change by then.

Environment Agency executive director of operations John Curtin said teams around the country are prepared for dealing with floods this winter in a Covid-safe way.

But he urged people to check if they are at risk and prepare for potential flooding, to protect precious keepsakes such as old photographs and reduce the mental health impacts of the trauma of being flooded.

He also warned of the challenge of keeping up with the rapidly increasing flood threat posed by climate change.

Will Lang, head of civil contingencies at the Met Office, said that after an unsettled December, with rain and wind continuing into next week, there will be colder, drier weather over Christmas and into the new year.

"Beyond that, though, our longer range forecasts for January and February have been consistently suggesting that wetter, windier and milder conditions are more likely than normal, so that wet weather will return again," he said.

Groundwater levels are slightly above normal and there is not much capacity in the soil to take more rain, leaving the country more "in the gift of the weather going forward", Mr Curtin said.

While the forecast is not certain, it must be taken seriously in case of more wet weather on top of the current conditions, he said.