Flood warning fear as snow melts

This Is Lancashire: Walkers in the snow as they cross Middleham Moor in The Pennines Walkers in the snow as they cross Middleham Moor in The Pennines

Heavy rain and thawing snow and ice brought floods to parts of Britain as forecasters warned that more wet weather was on its way.

The Environment Agency had around 80 flood warnings and more than 320 flood alerts in place, with river levels expected to swell further as successive bands of rain sweep the country.

Weather experts said communities in Wales, central England, the south west and Cumbria had seen most of the rain after 30mm (1.18ins) fell in some places.

Rising temperatures of up to 12C sparked a rapid thaw of the snow and ice which has built up in the recent cold snap, further exasperating potential flooding problems. The Met Office issued a yellow rain warning for much of the UK, warning that people should be aware that flooding could cause disruption, in particular to travel.

Paul Knightley, a forecaster for MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "Most areas have seen between 5-10mm of rain but parts of the south west, Wales and Cumbria have seen 20-30mm in just a couple of hours. This is likely to cause flooding issues because the rain has fallen on already saturated ground."

Heavy downpours are predicted to return, bringing the risk of further flooding as the surface water and river levels build up ahead of an unsettled week.

Gusts of up to 60mph are expected to hit the west coast tomorrow before "severe" stormy weather is forecast for western areas and Scotland by Wednesday. Larger rivers, including the Trent and Severn, will continue to rise with elevated levels expected throughout the week, the EA said. Team have been deploying mobile flood barriers at Bewdley and Shrewsbury to protect communities from flooding from the river Severn.

An EA spokesman said: "Emergency teams from the Environment Agency will be out in force throughout the weekend shoring up defences, monitoring river levels and clearing blockages from watercourses."

Norfolk Police reported flooding caused by melting snow and ice which closed a number of roads in the area. A woman had to abandon her car after it became stranded in flood water in Staffordshire. In Hawes, in the Yorkshire Dales, a motorist had to be rescued from floodwater by fire crews who pushed him to safety.

Meanwhile, emergency services have responded to a number of crashes on the M4 in south Wales shortly after a large hailstorm. South Wales Police said one of the incidents involved five cars. Eight people were injured in the crash on the eastbound carriageway between Margam, near Port Talbot, and Pyle, near Bridgend, according to the BBC.

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