Page last updated at 21:52 GMT, Sunday, 28 February 2010

Parts of UK on flood alert amid heavy rain

A driver in Essex is towed out of deep water by police
Heavy rain is causing difficulties for motorists in parts of Essex

Large parts of the UK are on flood alert as the country is clipped by a deadly storm sweeping across Europe.

The Environment Agency has 26 flood warnings in place in East Anglia, southern and north-east England and 139 flood watches across England and Wales.

An earlier severe flood warning in force for parts of Cambridgeshire has now been downgraded.

The UK has escaped the 87mph winds which lashed parts of Spain, Portugal and France, killing at least 50 people.

The worst winds reported in Britain reached 40 to 50mph in parts of Kent and East Anglia, with central England also badly hit. In the Isle of Wight, 25mm (1in) of rainfall was recorded.

Fast-flowing water

There are 17 less flood warnings in place in parts of Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Buckinghamshire, Essex and Bedfordshire and seven warnings in north-east England, including parts of Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear and Sunderland.

There are two flood warnings in Kent and Sussex.

These warnings indicate homes and businesses are at risk of flooding.

If flooding does occur in your area, it's best to stay out of flood water. It's often dirty and if it's fast flowing, can be extremely dangerous
David Beddlington
Environment Agency

Less serious flood watches, affecting nearly all of England and Wales, indicate that low-lying land and roads could become flooded.

Two flood watches are currently in force in Scotland for the east coast from Peterhead to Berwick, and the Solway Firth from the Esk Estuary to Loch Ryan.

The Environment Agency said its officials were watching the situation in England and Wales closely, and a spokesman urged people in the affected areas to be prepared.

"If flooding does occur in your area, (it's) best to stay out of flood water. Flood water is often contaminated, it's often dirty and if it's fast flowing, can be extremely dangerous," said the agency's David Beddlington.

BBC weather forecaster Rob McElwee said most of the violence in the storm was on the southern side, whereas Britain had taken only a glancing blow from the northern side.

He forecast a cold, frosty and mainly dry night in Britain and warned that the system of low pressure was likely to wreak more havoc in Germany and Poland overnight.

On Monday, some fog and sunshine was expected in the UK, he added.

Skiers rescued

In London, the Thames Barrier was raised on Sunday morning and lowered in the afternoon.

A car drives through deep water after heavy rain caused local flooding in Essex
The Met Office had warned of up to 20mm of rain falling in the south

The Environment Agency said the barrier would close for a second time at 2200 GMT on Sunday - reopening again at 0400 on Monday - to protect London from a high tide and expected tidal surge.

Rail passengers travelling on Southern services between London and East Croydon were affected by flooding in the Clapham Junction area and South West Trains' Waterloo to Shepperton services were delayed by flooding at Fulwell.

Scotland saw the return of snow last week, and two skiers had to be rescued after being caught in an avalanche on Saturday.

The men, who suffered leg injuries, were airlifted from the Cam Ghleann area of Glencoe.

Power cuts caused by the snow affected 45,000 homes in rural Perthshire but all are now reconnected.

On Friday a woman died when her Land Rover was swept down a river near Cropton in North Yorkshire.

Police found 53-year-old Vanessa Robson's vehicle almost totally submerged under a bridge and it took divers four hours to find her body.

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