Floods as torrential rain hits UK

Media caption,
Water levels of rivers are rising quickly and the full impact of the downpour is yet to be clear, as Jeremy Cooke reports.

Torrential rain is causing disruption as a month's rain falls in parts of the UK within one day.

The number of flood warnings - meaning flooding is expected - has reached more than 60 in England, and more than 170 flood alerts are in place in the UK.

The Environment Agency said 94 homes had been flooded in England and Wales, as forecasters warn of more heavy rain.

The Met Office has issued a red warning for severe weather in parts of the South West from midnight.

A red alert is its highest, and warns people to take action, rather than the lower alerts warning people be alert or be prepared.

The EA has issued 162 flood alerts for England and Wales, which warn people to be prepared for possible flooding, while the Scottish Environment Protection Agency has issued nine.

The town of Darwen in Lancashire, which was evacuated last month when rivers burst their banks, is among 65 places in the North East, the North West, the South West, the Midlands and the Anglian region of England, that are subject to a flood warning.

Meanwhile, a live flood warning system has gone online to help people track the areas in imminent danger.

And 20,000 Grand Prix fans have been warned not to attend the Silverstone race track on Saturday, as rain left thousands stranded in traffic jams near the site.

In other developments:

Some parts have received more than half the average rainfall for July in just one day, forecasters said. The average rainfall for this month is 60mm.

Image caption,
Lifeboat crews are helping people from a caravan at Cayton Bay caravan park in North Yorkshire

Overnight the worst affected area is expected to be south-west England, which has already seen heavy rain, with 40mm falling in just 30 minutes in Somerset earlier.

Forecasters said a further 80mm is expected to fall across the South West later and it is not expected to ease off until Saturday afternoon.

The Met Office's red warning centres on south-west Devon and east Cornwall.

EA officials are visiting campsites in these areas to warn of the severe weather conditions.

Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland there is no flood warning system but the Met Office has issued a yellow warning - urging people to be aware - for its south-eastern tip.

'Escalate quickly'

Craig Woolhouse, EA head of flood incident management, urged people to remain "on alert" for flooding as the situation could "escalate quickly".

He urged people to stay away from flood water.

Media caption,
Trish Banyard, Hebden Antiques Centre: 'It was like an Aladdin's cave down here'

The EA has opened incident rooms and has teams out checking on flood defences and clearing any blockages to reduce risks as much as possible.

The latest flood warnings follow the UK's wettest June since records began in 1910, according to provisional Met Office figures.

BBC Weather's Chris Fawkes said that, for the past three months, the UK had found itself underneath an accelerating part of the 6-mile high Jet Stream - a fast wind blowing around the planet.

An accelerating Jet Stream causes air to rise upwards through the atmosphere and creates low pressure centres and a greater likelihood of rain, he said.

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