Britain braced for another soaking

This Is Lancashire: The River Thames in Henley-on-Thames, south Oxfordshire, has burst its banks and flooded neighbouring fields The River Thames in Henley-on-Thames, south Oxfordshire, has burst its banks and flooded neighbouring fields

Flood warnings remain in place for England and Wales as the short respite from heavy rain is expected to give way to another band of miserable weather.

Strong winds and showers followed by more heavy downpours will bring the last weekend of the year to a miserable end.

Days of almost relentless downpours blighted parts of the country for much of December, punctuated only by the briefest of dry spells as communities count the cost of flooding.

Hundreds of alerts have been issued by the Environment Agency this month, as several days' worth of rain has fallen in just a few hours at its worst, contributing to a year of bad weather which has left the UK on the brink of its wettest since records began in 1910.

Homes have been evacuated and weary commuters and travellers have been forced to find alternative routes or abandon their plans altogether as sections of Britain's transport network ground to a halt.

But while the last few days have been largely dry for many, showers will return across the UK for much of the day, along with light amounts of snow will fall on high ground in the north of England, including the Pennines and the Lake District, and in Scotland.

Winds will reach up to 65 mph in north-west Scotland and around up to 50 mph in exposed areas of England and Wales throughout a blustery day. The showers will be followed by heavy downpours overnight, mainly confined to the south-east and Anglia regions.

The unwelcome rain will fall on already-saturated ground and where river and groundwater levels are still high, while larger rivers such as the Thames, Severn and Wye are likely remain high for several days.

England's South West, South East and Midlands regions will continue to be affected, as well as large chunks of Wales, the Environment Agency said.

Its flood risk manager, Katharine Evans, said: "With more heavy rain forecast, it is still as important as ever to be prepared for flooding, keep up to date with the latest warnings and if you are at risk, to move valuable items to safety. Our teams will continue to work around the clock to protect communities from flooding, and we would urge people to stay safe by not walking or driving through flood water."

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