By Tom Symonds
Home affairs correspondent
The Environment Agency says people should sign up for flood updates or use its website to make sure they can keep safe.
Rail operator Northern has advised passengers not to travel on many of its routes in the North West "due to increasingly poor conditions following torrential rain across the region".
The firm said routes covering "north of Manchester, Lancashire and Cumbria" were affected and a number had "experienced issues with flooding and... seen closures and significant disruption".
A spokesman said Northern had worked "alongside Network Rail throughout the night to prepare as many rail services as possible to resume on Thursday, [but] despite this hard work, flooding is persisting, and it has become increasingly difficult to operate a reliable service".
Regional director Chris Jackson added:Quote Message: We have worked for the last few days, in conjunction with colleagues from across the industry, to keep our services operating and, where possible, supported those services with replacement buses when the flooding meant running trains was impossible.Quote Message: Unfortunately, we have had to make the difficult to advise our customers that they should not travel before 12:00 on Thursday across many of our North West routes.Quote Message: The situation is constantly changing so I urge anyone who needs to make essential journeys over the next few days to allow extra time for travel and to check carefully before setting off.
By Jennifer Meierhans