Severe weather warning means more flooding is on the way
The Westcountry was last night on flood alert after forecasters issued a severe weather warning which predicted that more than two inches of rain could fall overnight in some areas.
Low-lying areas across Devon and Somerset are under threat from swollen rivers overtopping, according to the Environment Agency, who yesterday issued five flood warnings and 24 alerts across the South West.
Officials are also concerned that the combination of spring tides and high winds could push surging seas onto roads and flood coastal communities, particularly in parts of Cornwall.
Two spells of very heavy rain and winds of up to 80mph are expected to cause flooding and travel problems over the next few days.
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The Exeter-based Met Office said up to an inch-and-a-half (40mm) would fall "quite widely" across Devon and Cornwall with as much as two inches (50mm) in some places and perhaps 60mm on Exmoor and Dartmoor.
An amber-graded warning, which urges the public to "be prepared", was yesterday out in place for Devon and South Wales.
Forecaster Charlie Powell said the downpour would be constant but reinforced with some "intense bursts".
"We have got two fronts moving across the region – with heavy rain during the night until about 3am on Tuesday," he added. "There will be a lull during the morning then it starts to ramp up again towards evening time before clearing again during the early hours of Wednesday – this will be followed by high winds and occasional blustery showers."
The disruption began yesterday in Somerset where a main road and a town centre park were closed.
A children's play area in Vivary Park in Taunton was shut and the A361 road from the town to Ashcott was blocked off to motorists – both had been closed during the serious flooding in November.
The Environment Agency was forced to call off two public meetings in the county this week after concern over the weather conditions.
Its website yesterday had more than 50 flood warnings, meaning flooding is expected, and more than 200 alerts, where flooding is possible, in place.
Paul Gainey, an agency spokesman, said staff would keep a "watching brief" on the many rivers considered at risk, checking culverts and "trash screens" were clear.
"The problem is that the rivers are quite high after we had 15mm over the weekend," he added.
"The spring tides are peaking Tuesday into Wednesday which, combined with high winds, has the potential to cause wave spray and overtopping in Cornwall.
"We might also see minor disruption and road flooding in low-lying areas."