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Thursday, 7 December, 2000, 16:21 GMT
Floods website swamped
Flooding in the UK in October
More bad weather is on the way
A website showing people if their homes are at risk of flooding has been swamped with hits as new storms are predicted to hit Britain.

The Environment Agency's new site, which uses postcodes to identify specific areas, had 200,000 page impressions within the first 10 hours of its launch at midnight on Thursday.

That figure is the equivalent of an average month's traffic to the site.

The agency has issued 36 flood warnings for 21 rivers across western parts of the country.

Gale force winds of more than 80mph are expected in some areas "with some structural damage possible", the Met Office said.

See if your home is near a flood risk area
Enter your full UK postcode

You may experience some problems accessing information on the Environment Agency's website. These problems are outside of the BBC's control.

South-western England, the west of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are likely to be hit by severe gales, heavy rain and flooding as a "vigorous depression" moves in from the Atlantic.

There are fears this weekend's weather could be as severe as on 30 October, when tornados hit the south coast of England.

"Some parts of western Britain will get around two-and-a-half inches of rain, which will cause problems for any rivers already on alert," a Met Office spokesman said.

Areas of risk

The depression, which is forming off the coast of Portugal, is forecast to strike south-western England and Wales on Thursday evening.

It will then move north over the Irish Sea and Northern Ireland through Friday before hitting western Scotland early on Saturday morning.

The Met Office has advised people in the worst-affected areas to be vigilant.

Weather image
The bad weather is moving in
"People should be tying things down which could easily work loose in strong winds - if you can, stay indoors," said the spokesman.

He also warned that ferry crossings in the Irish Sea could be affected.

Flood warnings have been issued for six rivers in Wales and others in East Anglia, southern, south western, north western and north eastern England.

A severe flood warning for the River Wye in Herefordshire has now been lifted, while the Thames area is the only region without any flood warnings.

Internet initiative

Environment Agency chairman Sir John Harman said the online initiative could help more people reduce the misery of flooding.

"It doesn't hold back the water - but one of the most dangerous things if you are at risk of flooding is not being prepared," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

The site pinpoints "at risk" areas
He also called for local authorities, who are not compelled to follow the instructions of the agency, to nevertheless give more weight to its advice when granting planning consent for new housing.

The launch of the agency's Flood Maps Online follows a survey by the British Market Research Bureau that discovered that more than 50% of people who live in flood risk areas are still not aware of the danger to their property.

A spokeswoman for the agency emphasised that the maps did not distinguish degrees of risk, which would be higher in undefended, low-lying areas near rivers or the sea.

She also warned users that the fact that a property lies within a floodplain did not mean that it would definitely experience flooding.

The agency's Floodline is on 0845 9881188.

  • Bookmakers William Hill has taken one of its biggest bets ever on a White Christmas.

    The 3,000 bet was made by two Greek friends from London who will collect 16,500 if a single flake of snow falls in the capital on December 25.

    Odds of a White Christmas in London have now been cut to 7/2 while Hills is offering odds of 6/1 in Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester, Cardiff, Bristol and Birmingham.

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