US storm heads for Britain with heavy rain for areas already hit by floods
Communities hit by flooding after Christmas have been warned to prepare for further misery as the storm that battered the US arrives in Britain.
Forecasters have warned that the possibility of heavy rain on already saturated ground after the wettest December on record means more flooding is likely in many of the areas affected last month.
Weather warnings are in place across Wales, Scotland, Lancashire, Cumbria, Yorkshire, Devon and Cornwall and the South East of England as the remnants of the US snow storms head for the UK.
The Environment Agency (EA) said areas already affected by record river levels, including Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire, are likely to be at risk of flooding as heavy rain on Tuesday and into Wednesday could cause river levels to rise and drains to flood.
A spokeswoman said there was also the possibility of some flooding along the rivers Severn and Wye.
Clare Dinnis, national flood duty manager at the EA, said they would issue flood warnings and alerts where necessary and warned people to be ready for flash flooding in some areas.
"With heavy rain and high tides this week, people in Cumbria, Yorkshire, Devon and Cornwall need to be prepared for the risk of flooding," she said.
"Disruption to travel and some flooding of low-lying land and individual properties is possible."
The Met Office has also issued severe weather warnings for heavy rain and severe gales in these areas, with forecasters predicting around 30 to 50mm of rain in most parts and up to 80 to 100mm in exposed upland areas. Parts of Scotland are likely to face winds of up to 70mph.
A second weather front will see further rain and wind hitting the UK towards the end of the week.
But recent mild temperatures are expected to continue after one of the warmest January days on record on Sunday.
A Met Office spokeswoman said the weather is the remnants of the storm that brought blizzards and near record-breaking amounts of snow to the US east coast.
She said: " As it travels across to us, we're not going to get snowfall, it will just manifest itself as wet and windy weather b ecause, as it travels over the Atlantic, it picks up moisture and warms up, which means it comes as rain rather than snow.
"What we have got is a lot of weather coming our way.
"We've got these warnings out for great swathes of the west coast of the UK, that's for Tuesday into Wednesday, for potential heavy rain accompanied by strong winds as well.
"And because we've had so much rain falling on already saturated ground, s ome of the areas experiencing that will be the ones who have experienced flooding already."
Lancashire, Cumbria and Yorkshire were some of the worst affected by Storm Desmond, which ruined thousands of homes and businesses and resulted in thousands of residents evacuated from their homes.
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: "I have today chaired a meeting of the government's COBR committee as we prepare for more rain this week across the North of England and in the South West. This is likely to take place from Tuesday to Wednesday, with a further front expected on Friday.
"While we continue to monitor forecasts to model the precise impacts, we expect rain to fall on already saturated ground, especially in parts of Cumbria, Yorkshire, Devon and Cornwall.
"We know this will be an especially anxious time for many communities who suffered flooding last month and where the ground is still saturated.
"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 EA 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.
"I expect to be chairing further COBRs this week to ensure our response remains targeted, fast and effective."