Rain set to plague UK for rest of year

Gulls in Pangbourne, Berkshire
Image caption The River Thames burst its banks in some areas. Here seagulls find a perch at Pangbourne, Berkshire.

Widespread flood warnings are still in force across the UK, with more downpours expected on New Year's Eve.

Rain and winds will be widespread on Monday but should dry up by the evening, allowing people to celebrate the New Year in dry conditions.

There are currently more than 79 warnings and about 191 alerts in force in England and Wales, with 10 warnings and 11 alerts in Scotland.

It is likely that 2012 will be the wettest year since records began.

And for much of the UK, the final weekend of the year will close in the same manner that characterised the previous 12 months.

Overnight and into New Year's Eve, most areas of the UK will see more wet weather, with up to 50mm on higher ground in the North and West, BBC forecaster Matt Taylor said.

Winds will also be strong, especially in the north-west of the UK, reaching gale force at times.

After days of flooding that brought parts of the UK to a standstill, river and groundwater levels are still high in many areas.

England's south-west, south-east and Midlands regions will continue to be affected, as well as large chunks of Wales, the Environment Agency said.

Its flood risk manager, Katharine Evans, said: "With more heavy rain forecast, it is still as important as ever to be prepared for flooding, keep up to date with the latest warnings and if you are at risk, to move valuable items to safety.

"Our teams will continue to work around the clock to protect communities from flooding, and we would urge people to stay safe by not walking or driving through flood water."

Met Office figures show that 2012 will go down as one of the wettest years since records began in 1910 and it could yet be the wettest.

On Friday, the Met Office said 46mm (2in) of rain was needed to fall before 31 December to break the record for the UK, with 1,291.2mm (50in) having been recorded between 1 January and 26 December.

A new record has already been set for England, with 1,095.8mm falling in 2012 up to Boxing Day.

Buses continue to replace trains between Liskeard and Looe in Cornwall, and the line is not expected to reopen until New Year's Day at the earliest, National Rail said.

Services also continue to be disrupted between Exeter St Davids and Exmouth, and Exeter St Davids and Barnstaple.

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UK forecast for 21/03/2018

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