UK weather: River Severn barriers breached as 'danger to life' warnings issued

26 February 2020, 07:11

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Flood defences have been breached after record-breaking river levels, as forecasters warn of more rain over the coming days.

The River Severn breached temporary flood barriers in Bewdley, Worcestershire after low-lying areas of the River Severn were hit by three weekends of bad weather.

Authorities warned more areas along the river are expected to be hit by severe flooding on Wednesday, with potential over-topping of defences in Ironbridge in Shropshire of high concern.

Flood defences have been breached overnight
Flood defences have been breached overnight. Picture: Environment Agency/PA

Environment Agency manager David Thriup said the temporary barriers were not the main defences at Bewdley, and asked that the public avoid the area while officials work to battle against the rising tide of water.

The river level in Ironbridge is at its highest level in 20 years
The river level in Ironbridge is at its highest level in 20 years. Picture: Environment Agency

On Wednesday morning two severe "danger to life" flood warnings had been issued for the Shropshire towns of Shrewsbury and Ironbridge.

The Environment Agency said there is a "potential for the Ironbridge [flood] barrier to overtop".

A further 103 flood warnings, meaning that flooding is expected, and 147 flood alerts, meaning that flooding is possible, are also in place across the country.

On Wednesday evening, the river at Bewdley is expected to come close to its highest recorded level, which was 5.56m in November 2000, the Environment Agency said.

Ongoing flooding is forecast over the next few days, with England having seen more than 200% of its average February rainfall, the agency said.

The Met Office has warned of further showers across the UK on Wednesday, followed by even more rainfall on Thursday and Friday.

Forecaster John Griffiths said between 5mm to 10mm could fall on the River Severn's source, the Welsh hills, throughout Wednesday, with other parts of the UK seeing up to 2mm.

He said temperatures are likely to "hover around freezing" in the morning, with the west of England and the Midlands experiencing the most frequent showers.

A yellow weather warning for ice has been issued until 10am on Wednesday for Northern Ireland, west Scotland, Wales and large swathes of England.

A yellow weather warning has been issued for much of the UK
A yellow weather warning has been issued for much of the UK. Picture: Met Office

A further 5mm to 10mm of rain is forecast for most areas on Thursday, increasing to 10mm to 20mm in a 24-hour period between Friday and Saturday morning across catchment areas in Wales, Cumbria and Yorkshire, Mr Griffiths said.

The Environment Agency has warned flooding is possible on the rivers Wye, Ouse and Trent, with other areas at risk from localised flooding caused by heavy rainfall expected on Friday.

It comes as homes were evacuated on Tuesday after the River Aire burst its banks in Snaith, in East Yorkshire.