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Flood alerts across England and Wales as south-west braces for 80mph storm | UK news | theguardian.com

Flood alerts across England and Wales as south-west braces for 80mph storm | UK news | theguardian.com.

Somerset, Devon and Dorset at greatest risk of flooding as Environment Agency issues warnings as far north as Hull
theguardian.com, Saturday 8 February 2014 12.26 GMT
Waves break at Porthleven in Cornwall

Waves break at high tide in Porthleven, Cornwall, on Saturday as south-west England and Wales braced for more storms and flooding. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Large areas of England and Wales are on flood and storm alert as a new storm is poised to hit the south and south-west with winds of up to 80mph.

The flooded Somerset Levels where many residents have already been forced from their homes after weeks of heavy rain remain at the highest risk of continued flooding on Saturday.

The Environment Agency said there was a risk of flooding along the coast of Devon and Dorset from the combination of high tides and high winds.

There are more than 300 low-level flood alerts and nearly 200 medium-risk flood warnings in place across Wales and southern and central England as far north as Hull.

The Met Office issued an amber warning of high winds for the south of England and Wales and yellow rain warnings for the south and west of England and Wales.

“After a short lull, winds will increase from the south-west during the course of Saturday with severe gales affecting coastal districts, bringing gusts of 60-70mph and isolated 80mph at the most exposed locations within the amber warning area. Large waves are also expected to affect south-west facing coasts. Further inland, gusts of 50-60 mph are likely.”

The Met Office warned the public to be prepared for disruption to transport and power supplies, particularly when combined with the effect of heavy rain.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said an additional 1,500 troops were on six hours’ notice to move if required to help victims of new flooding. Several hundred Royal Marines and engineers are already helping in south-west England.

Engineers have strengthened the shore along the railway line at Dawlish in Devon to prevent further damage to the tracks although Cornwall and Plymouth remain cut off from the rest of the rail network. Flybe said it will increase the number of weekday flights between Gatwick and Newquay in Cornwall from three to six after the airport said it would waive fees.

As residents in Somerset have struggled to cope with rising water, police arrested three men on suspicion of stealing fuel from near the cut-off village of Muchelney.

The arrests follow the theft of 600 gallons of domestic heating oil from a farm in Moorland and the theft of two fire service quad bikes from Burrowbridge last week.

Eric Pickles, the local government secretary, has ordered a flood defence repair audit of both Environment Agency defences and private defences after the latest meeting of the government’s emergency committee Cobra on Friday night.

He said: “We continue to make sure every preparation is made before the severe weather expected this weekend and the following days. I ask everyone to remain vigilant and follow the advice being issued by the Environment Agency.

“I want to reassure the country that everything possible is being done to help those communities affected by these terrible storms, and work to be prepared for any further bad weather we may see in the days ahead.”

UK braced for more storms and floods | UK news | theguardian.com

UK braced for more storms and floods | UK news | theguardian.com.

Flooding in Maidstone

Flooding in Maidstone, Kent: about 1,000 homes in south-east and south-west England have been flooded and at one stage 300,000 properties were without power. Photograph: Matthew Aslett/Demotix/Corbis

Weather forecasters are warning that more storms could cause further significant flooding in parts of southern England on Thursday as more than 10,000 properties remain without power.

About 1,000 homes in south-east and south-west England have already been flooded and at one stage 300,000 properties in the south-east, the east of England and London had no electricity as bad weather threw many people’s Christmas celebrations into chaos.

The Met Office said widespread gales were likely to develop late during Thursday night or in the early hours of Friday morning bringing gusts of more than 50mph inland and of 70mph to 80mph to some coastal areas and high ground. On Thursday morning, the Environment Agency had 83 flood warnings in place, the bulk of them in the south-east (37), south-west (16), and the Midlands (18).

A Met Office spokesman said: “The public should be aware of the potential for disruption, especially where the high winds are combined with heavy rainfall.”

He said a deep area of low pressure developing over the Atlantic Ocean would bring more wet and windy weather across the UK as it tracked north-eastwards past north-western Britain later on Thursday and during Friday.

“Peak winds are thought most likely to occur during the early hours of Friday and Friday morning with the highest gusts probably being over Irish Sea coastal areas,” he said.

There was some consolation as he said the likely impact was presently thought to be “less severe” relative to other recent storms to have hit the UK.

The Energy Network Association said 13,000 properties remained without power on Thursday morning after 50,000 had no supplies on Christmas Day.

UK Power Networks, which delivers power to about 8 million customers in the south-east, the east of England and London, said that by Thursday morning there were around 8,000 without power in the area.

The director of customer services, Matt Rudling, said: “All our efforts today remain fully focused on reconnecting power supplies in the quickest way possible. Extra staff are on duty, many of whom have cancelled their leave to help with the repair effort or to join our additional call centres. We know this is a very difficult time for our customers and we want to thank them for their understanding.”

The bad weather also hampered the annual Christmas getaway. Some of the most chaotic scenes were at Gatwick airport, where a power outage at its north terminal led to more than 35 cancellations and long delays. Police stepped in to calm angry passengers. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has said it may launch an investigation into the problems, which came two months after flights were hit by an earlier storm.

A CAA spokesman said: “We need to know exactly what happened at the airport. Once we have that information we can decide if there is any further action we need to take.”

The airport said heavy rain caused flooding from the River Mole into airfield substations and the north terminal.

 

Violent storms batter UK triggering emergency response | UK news | The Guardian

Violent storms batter UK triggering emergency response | UK news | The Guardian.

Allonby

Heavy seas and high tides batter the village of Allonby in Cumbria. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA

Two people were killed, dozens were injured and thousands of residents were rescued or fled from their homes on Thursday as the UK was battered by powerful winds and seaside communities were threatened by the worst storm surge for more than 60 years.

The government’s emergency Cobra committee met twice and local emergency plans swung into operation as the surge threatened to engulf areas of the east coast of England from Northumberland to Kent plus parts of the north-west from Cumbria to Cheshire as well as communities in north Wales.

Emergency services and local authorities advised more than 15,000 people to leave their homes on the east coast of England. Some were due to spend a worrying night with relatives or in emergency rest centres, although many others refused to move, insisting they would stay to protect their properties.

By Thursday evening, more than 40 severe flood warnings – indicating danger to life – had been issued by the Environment Agency, which said the surge could be worse than in 1953 when more than 300 people died and 24,000 homes were damaged or destroyed.

However, the agency was confident that modern flood defences including the Thames and Hull barriers and more efficient warning systems meant such disaster would be averted this time.

The Met Office said the winds were calming but the danger of a storm surge would remain into Friday and snow or ice could also cause problems in the north of England and Scotland.

John Curtin, the Environment Agency’s head of incident management, said: “Flooding of coastal communities along the eastern and north west coasts is expected into Friday. Some defences could be overtopped by the combined effect of high tides, high winds and a large tidal surge.”

The Ministry of Defence was represented at the Cobra meetings and military personnel were standing by ready to help with the rescue effort if needed.

The high winds (a gust of 142mph was recorded over high ground in central Scotland) brought down power lines leaving tens of thousands of households without electricity in Scotland, Northern Ireland and England.

There was also misery for travellers with train services and flights cancelled or delayed. Motorists faced hazardous driving conditions and ferries were disrupted.

According to the Met Office, the problem was caused by a combination of the strong winds, low pressure and high tides. The wind was strong enough to cause water to “pile up” on to some coastlines. Low pressure associated with an Atlantic storm allowed the sea surface to rise temporarily. This combined with high tides to create the surge. Parts of the North Sea are particularly prone to storm surges partly because water flowing into the shallower southern end cannot escape quickly through the narrow Dover Strait and English Channel.

It was the wind rather than the surge that led to the two deaths. One man was killed when he was struck by a tree blown down by the gusts as he rode a mobility scooter through a park in Retford, Nottinghamshire, in the early afternoon.

Earlier, a driver died when his HGV toppled on to a number of cars in West Lothian. Four other people were treated for minor injuries.

Other motorists had lucky escapes. In Birmingham, care worker Muhammad Sial described how his car was crushed by a tree moments after he got out of it. “I just got to the front door and turned to look back and the tree had smashed my car,” he said.

The wind was so strong that people were blown off their feet in some places. In Birmingham’s city centre, a pedestrian was taken to hospital with serious injuries after being hit by falling glass from a window. Two people were also hurt when the roof blew off one of the huts in the city’s popular German Christmas market. A few miles away in Walsall, West Midlands, neighbours had to lift a tree that had toppled on to a man. He was taken to hospital where he was treated for back and neck injuries.

There were some worrying moments for air travellers. A flight to Glasgow was forced to abort two landing attempts in Scotland before being diverted to Manchester. Passenger Hazel Bedford, a charity worker, said: “I’m feeling really lucky to be alive. An awful lot of people were being sick but the plane, it was incredibly quiet. All I could think of was my new year’s resolution this year, which was to write my own will, and I haven’t done it. I was absolutely terrified.”

In Rhyl in north Wales, 40 residents – and six dogs – were ferried to safety by teams from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and North Wales fire and rescue service. About 400 people in all left their homes in the resort.

As the violent weather moved south from Scotland during the day, police and other emergency services were trying to evacuate thousands of residents on the east coast. They were being asked to move inland and stay with relatives if possible – and local authorities were also opening emergency shelters in leisure centres and schools. Norfolk’s deputy chief constable Charlie Hall said: “We understand people may be anxious, but we would like to reassure residents that Norfolk has tried and tested flood response plans which are being put in place, in line with Environment Agency advice.”

Many said they would not leave. Anne Edwards, of Great Yarmouth, said: “We’re staying put. The house we live in was flooded in 1953 and there’s a four-and-a-half foot-high water line in the dining room from then. We always knew we might be at risk of flooding, so there is a camping stove upstairs and we have water and cans of food. I’ve got my wellies ready.”

In Sandwich, Kent, residents were sent a message by the Environment Agency reading: “Severe Flooding. Danger to life.” and adding: “Act now to protect yourself, family, neighbours, pets and valuables.”

Police in Jaywick, Essex, asked people who wanted to stay in their homes to sign a disclaimer acknowledging they had been advised to leave. Some said they were worried their homes would be looted if they left.

The environment secretary, Owen Paterson, urged people to listen to the emergency services and heed their advice. He said: “These storms are dangerous. I would urge everybody to pay close attention to announcements by the Environment Agency, the department for transport and local government.”

 

Hurricane-Force Storm Hits Southern Britain With Winds Of 99mph (PICTURES)

Hurricane-Force Storm Hits Southern Britain With Winds Of 99mph (PICTURES). (source)

Batten down the hatches. Commuters face rush-hour chaos this morning as they wake up to the impact of the worst storm in years, with winds of almost 100mph battering Britain.

As winds tear through property and causing flooding and major travel disruption, more than 7,000 homes in the Bristol and Bath area have reportedly been left without power, flights and rail services across the country have been cancelled or delayed and there is widespread flooding in southern parts of England as rain and hurricane-force winds arrived from the South West.

Trees have been brought down by high winds, damaging property, and a number of roads left impassable by floodwater.

 

Farmers warn of fire risk to crops as heat goes on | UK news | The Observer

Farmers warn of fire risk to crops as heat goes on | UK news | The Observer.

 

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