Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Britain braced for Bertha backlash

A flash flood caused problems for motorists

Heavy rain left parts of the country affected by flash flooding today, with further wet and windy weather expected for Sunday when the remnants of Hurricane Bertha are expected to hit the UK.

Forecasters said that currently, southern parts of the country are most at risk from "heavy rainfall, strong coastal winds and large waves", followed by areas of north east Scotland on Monday. But there is also the possibility that the depression could move across northern France.

Today, heavy downpours led to several streets being left underwater and residents evacuated from their homes in the Lincolnshire town of Louth , while downpours also led to waterlogged roads in Maidstone, Kent.

The Environment Agency has a flood alert in place along Louth Canal and Waithe Beck while there is a flood warning for properties near the Louth Canal from Keddington to High Bridge.

Today's weather is unconnected to Hurricane Bertha, which has been travelling across the Atlantic after hitting the Caribbean islands with gusts of more than 90 mph (145 kph) and leaving thousands of homes without power.

A spokesman for the Met Office said t he transition of Bertha from a tropical to an extra-tropical storm was a "particularly hard one to forecast" but it was increasingly expected to affect the UK on Sunday.

Chief meteorologist Paul Gundersen said: "There is still some uncertainty surrounding this weekend's weather, with the potential for heavy rainfall, strong coastal winds and large waves on Sunday.

"However, there is still a chance that the system may pass to the south of the country giving the UK a brighter day.

"Rain and strong winds may well bring disruption, especially across southern parts of the UK, with the potential for more than 50mm of rain and coastal gusts of over 60mph."

Lincolnshire Police said that areas affected in Louth today included Church Street, Eastfield Road, Keddington Road and Horncastle Road, while the Co-op store was also temporarily evacuated.

Environment Agency flood risk manager, Craig Woolhouse, said: "Heavy rain on Sunday may lead to localised surface water flooding in some parts of England and Wales.

"On Sunday and Monday a combination of high spring tides and strong westerly winds bring a risk of large waves and spray and possible flooding to the South West coast of England and along the Severn Estuary.

"If you're travelling to or from holiday then check your flood risk before setting off and don't drive through flood waters."

Although today and Sunday are likely to have been a wash-out for many, forecasters said that tomorrow is likely to be a more pleasant day, with cloud and patchy sunshine although there will be a risk of summer showers.

Temperatures in the South are expected to reach up to 24C (75F) while they will be in the high teens further north.

Environment Minister George Eustice said: "We are working closely with the Flood Forecasting Centre, the Environment Agency, Local Authorities and emergency services to ensure we are prepared for any potential flooding this weekend.

"I urge people to remain vigilant and pay close attention to advice from the Environment Agency and emergency services."

Cambridgeshire Police urged people to avoid driving on the county's roads unless absolutely necessary after it was hit by deluge of rain.

The force said traffic was extremely slow moving on parts of the A14 and surrounding roads while there has been localised flooding in March, Wisbech, Dry Drayton and Bar Hill.

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service said it received more than 115 calls relating to flooding incidents in the county between 1pm and 5.30pm.

Downpours also led to flooding in York.

The Environment Agency added a number of other flooding warnings - two in the Midlands and one in the North East - meaning flooding is expected.

It also added eight further flood alerts - meaning flooding is possible - in East Anglia and Nottinghamshire, along with two in the North East and four in the South West.

But the flood warning for properties near the Louth Canal from Keddington to High Bridge is no longer in force.

North Yorkshire Fire and rescue service said it is receiving a high number of emergency calls due to "heavy rainfall" in the York, Tadcaster and Selby areas.

It added: "Flooding calls are currently being received and prioritised by the control room team. We are currently dealing with over 50 incidents."

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