US snow storm to bring heavy rain and gales to UK

Flooded street in Carlisle Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Downpours in December brought severe flooding to Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire, as well as parts of Scotland

Heavy rain and gale-force winds are set to batter the UK with the arrival of the storm that brought severe blizzards to the US.

The Met Office has issued a warning for heavy rain on Tuesday for the west of the UK, with 100mm (four inches) expected in parts of Wales and England.

The Environment Agency warned those in Cumbria, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Devon and Cornwall to prepare for flooding.

The government said the military was on standby and defences were in place.

The storm brought near-record snowfall from Washington to New York in the US.

At least 29 deaths have been reported in the US since Friday, while airports and some government services were closed.

Flooding risk

BBC forecaster Steve Cleaton said western parts of the UK would bear the brunt of the storm.

Some 20-40mm of rain - and up to 60mm in the most exposed areas - is forecast in Scotland, while north-west England, Wales, Devon and Cornwall are predicted to get between 30 and 50mm, with up to 100mm in exposed uplands.

Gusts of 70mph are likely along south-facing coasts of south-west Scotland, with large waves also expected on Tuesday, the Met Office says.

In England and Wales, the heaviest rain and strongest winds are expected in two bouts - one late morning and afternoon on Tuesday, and another Tuesday night into Wednesday, before clearing to the south-east on Wednesday afternoon.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The "remnants" of the storm that brought blizzards to the US is expected to hit the UK on Tuesday

There is also a warning in place for heavy rain for Northern Ireland on Wednesday, when gale-force winds are expected.

The Environment Agency said it was monitoring river levels. There are currently three flood warnings in Dorset meaning flooding is expected, and more than 60 flood alerts - meaning flooding is possible - in England and Wales.

It said rivers in Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire were already at record levels following the wettest ever December and were likely to be at risk of flooding.

There was also a possibility of "some flooding" along the rivers Severn and Wye.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) currently has more than 30 flood warnings and nine flood alerts in place.

'Protecting lives'

Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss chaired a meeting of the government's emergency Cobra committee in preparation for the bad weather.

"We know this will be an especially anxious time for many communities who suffered flooding last month and where the ground is still saturated," she said afterwards.

"I want to assure them that we are taking all possible steps to prepare for the storm.

"The military are on standby, temporary defences and pumps are being deployed across the country, and Environment Agency staff are checking and maintaining flood defences, clearing blockages in watercourses and monitoring water levels.

"Our priority continues to be protecting lives, protecting homes and protecting businesses."

Clare Dinnis, the Environment Agency's national flood duty manager, also urged people to take care near coastal paths and promenades, and not to drive through flood-water.

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