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Friday, June 15, 2012

The calm before the 'once in 50 years' storm: Forecasters predict major flooding as huge low sweeps in from the Atlantic

-Temperatures up to 10C below normal and sunshine down 60 per cent in worst June since records began
-Emergency services issue a 'major flood' alert in the South-West and Wales as Atlantic front sweeps in
-After a dry spell yesterday and today, downpours and gusts are set to return with a vengeance tonight
-Environment Agency issues two warnings where flooding was expected and 12 where possible today

By Daily Mail Reporter

Flying high... while they can: Paragliders take advantage of break in the miserable weather over Beachy Head and Eastbourne in East Sussex today

Britain is at risk of being lashed by a once in 50 years storm, forecasters warned today.

The Weather Channel said rivers would be overwhelmed and warned of a 'major flooding event' as Nasa released this satellite picture of a huge low sweeping in from the Atlantic.

Forecasters at the Met Office have already predicted 60mph hurricane-force winds will bring three months of rain over the next three days, making June the wettest since records began.

Making the most of it: The paragliders may have to back up they chutes soon, though, as more downpours are sweeping their way across the UK today

Emergency services issued a flood alert in the South-West and Wales last night with eight inches of rain expected as a massive front of terrible weather sweeps in from the Atlantic.

Forecasters said England and Wales’ appalling June weather is officially the worst since records began more than 100 years ago. The countries are on course for the wettest ever June, temperatures are up to 10C below normal and sunshine is down 60 per cent.

After a dry period of respite for many parts of Britain yesterday and today, the wet weather will return this evening and get worse going into tomorrow as a slow-moving area of low pressure brings thundery showers and strong winds.

It's coming: NASA's Terra satellite took this stunning image of today's 70mph Atlantic storm at 12.45pm as it span towards the South-West

Weather Channel forecaster Leon Brown said: 'There’s a 50 per cent possibility of extreme downpours seeing over 80mm of rain in 12 hours in south and east Wales, which is a once-in-50 years event.

'The greatest intensity of rain will be early Thursday night and again on Friday daytime. Overall, up to 110mm is expected in Wales in just over 48 hours to midnight Saturday.

With yet more rain and stormy weather forecast, Freya Kirkpatrick , 4, takes a last chance to play in the sunshine with her dog, Monty, in a giant field of ox eye daisies on the edge of Blithfield Reservoir near Rugeley, Staffordshire

'This rainfall will be widespread across river catchment areas and could completely overwhelm rivers downstream. There is a high risk of flooding, with situation made even worse by ground being saturated from previous rain this week.'

MeteoGroup forecaster Julian Mayes said: 'We cannot find a period of June weather worse than this month since records began. For a 12-day period, it’s as bad as it can be.

'There’s no parallel with this month’s combination of very high rainfall, very low sunshine and very low daytime temperatures.

'The outlook is unsettled and although we don’t yet know for sure if it will be the wettest June, it’s well on the way.'

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service said its 650 firefighters and 100 support staff were ready to take flood action.

A spokesperson said: 'Ourselves, the police and county council are monitoring the weather forecast and will take appropriate action when needed. We have vast experience dealing with flooding, in particular floods which devastated Cornwall in November 2010.'

Calm before the storm: The sky above the Queens tennis club on day three of the AEGON Championships in London hint at what is to come later today

Enjoy it while it lasts: For much of today, however, the sun has been trying to come out, but the reprieve will only be temporary, forecasters warn

When 80mm of rain fell in 24 hours in west Wales last Friday, 150 people were rescued and 850 relocated as 5ft floods swept through caravan parks and villages.

Government forecasters predicted 15-20mm of rain today, plus 70-100mm over higher ground in 48 hours from midnight, with 30-50mm on lower ground.

The Weather Channel forecast more than 100mm on higher ground and warned of a 'major flooding event.' Rivers running off higher ground will fill rapidly.

The Met Office forecast wind gusts to hit a gale-force of 55mph-60mph on coasts in the South-West tomorrow.

Other parts of the UK will escape the worst of the conditions, with up to an inch of rain across tomorrow and Saturday, with 35-40mph gusts, the Met Office said.

Who says the weather's bad? Two girls from Oregon in the U.S. enjoy ice creams on one of the bridges that straddle the village of Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire

Sunshine after the rain: A young lady takes advantage of the weather in a deckchair in St James's Park, London, today before the downpours sweep in

Gusts on the horizon: The flags in Parliament Square, London, have been blowing more vigorously today, indicating that the expected high winds of up to 60mph could soon be upon us

Temperatures have been miserable for many. Forest Row, E Sussex, only reached 10.7C on Tuesday, almost 10C below normal for June.

Sunshine is down 60 per cent so far this month, with England and Wales averaging just 30 hours’ sunshine. June normally sees 178 hours’ sunshine.

Although there have been heavy showers in parts of the South West, Wales and the North West, parts of the country which were on flood alert after days of heavy rain were given breathing space yesterday with clear skies in the South East and London.

The break in the weather came as three of the UK’s biggest water companies announced they would lift hosepipe bans, imposed to deal with drought, following weeks of heavy rain.

Thames Water, Anglian Water and Southern Water were to remove the restrictions in place since early April from today.

Seven water companies across southern and eastern England brought in hosepipe bans after two unusually dry winters left some groundwater supplies and rivers as low as in the drought year of 1976.

The Environment Agency had urged people in Devon, Cornwall, west Somerset, North Wales and parts of the Midlands to remain prepared for the possibility of floods as the Met Office issued a weather warning for heavy rain.

At one point yesterday the EA had five flood warnings in place for rivers where flooding was expected, and 21 less serious flood alerts.

There were also 17 flood alerts, mainly in East Anglia and the South East.

Underwater: The ford near Charvil, Berkshire, which flooded to a depth of 6ft after heavy rain hit parts of the UK. Temperatures are up to 10C below normal and sunshine is down 60 per cent

Today, that had been downgraded to two warnings where flooding was expected and 12 where it was possible over the next 12 hours.

Sussex Police, West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service and council officers said they evacuated people from flooded homes in the village of Elmer, near Bognor Regis, after reports of flooding of up to 6ft in some homes.

Inflatable boats were used to reach 250 vulnerable homes, knocking on doors and searching properties to make sure people were safe and received the help they needed, a Sussex Police spokeswoman said.

MeteoGroup said that the highest rainfall had been at Culdrose in Cornwall, where 16mm fell, with 13mm in Nantwich, Cheshire.

Forecaster Tom Tobler said the bad weather at the end of the week could bring strong winds but not as strong as those experienced last week.

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: 'We’re asking people in Devon, Cornwall, West Somerset, north Wales and parts of the Midlands to remain vigilant and prepared for flooding.

'We urge caravan and camping site operators across the South-West to be ready to take action should flooding occur.

'Heavy rain has left many areas more vulnerable to flooding. We advise the public stay away from swollen rivers and not to drive through floodwater.

'We’re speaking to councils and emergency services and sharing severe weather alerts.'

The Met Office said: 'The UK has seen exceptionally wet weather and there’s more rain to come.

'A spell of wet and windy weather with persistent heavy rain will affect parts of the South-West and Wales from late Thursday through Friday and Saturday.

'It looks like Friday and Saturday will see 10-20mm of rain quite widely, with an additional 20-30mm across the South-West and Wales and 60-80mm over higher ground the South-West and south Wales.

'The public advised to take extra care and should be aware of the risk of localised flooding.'

Weather Channel forecaster Leon Brown said: 'We are very likely to see a repeat of the major flooding events that happened in Wales and Sussex in the last week.

'Higher hills are forecast to see over 100mm, with local flash flooding is likely anywhere in Wales and across much of England on Saturday with 20-30mm of rain possible in a few hours.

'There’s a risk of trees being blown down on Friday, and Channel ferry crossings will be very rough.'



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