Brief respite in the poor weather before more rain ushers in New Year
Revellers have been warned to expect a soggy and windy New Year’s Eve as the latest in a series of fast-moving weather fronts hits the Westcountry.
Flood waters were last night receding after a devastating few days for the region but officials said fresh misery could be on the way next week with warnings of more heavy rain to come.
Winds of up to 65mph hit exposed and coastal areas overnight on Boxing Day though rainfall was lighter than expected with less than half and inch in most places.
Flood warnings and alerts were being scaled back yesterday with no problems in Devon or Cornwall and emergency workers focussing their efforts on the Somerset levels where standing water remains a big problem.
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The Met Office said sunshine and light showers were expected on Friday and over the weekend but a yellow weather warning for rain was in place from midnight on Sunday, bringing rain throughout Monday followed by another band on Tuesday.
Forecaster Nicola Maxey said there was nothing unseasonal in the severity of the winter weather.
“What is unusual is that the bands of rain are so close together and fast-moving – as soon as one clears there is a slight lull then another one comes through right behind it,” she added.
“We have got a series of these fronts moving across from the west which is keeping temperatures quite mild.
“New Year’s Eve is going to see heavy rain through the day followed by cloud and patchy rain – by the later part of the evening we will have showers but plenty of cloud to keep the temperatures up.”
Communities in the region were hard-hit by stormy weather on Monday and Tuesday, which left thousands of homes without power or flooded.
Father-of-two Nick Mutton, who taught at Cockington Primary School in Torquay, lost his life on Christmas Eve as he tried to rescue his dog from a fast flowing river in Newton Abbot.
Communities in Devon and Cornwall were braced for the possibility of more flooding on Thursday, as another stormy weather front moved in from the Atlantic, but despite the high winds and localised showers the effect was minimal.
By the end of yesterday the Environment Agency had removed 40 warnings and alerts for the South West with none left in place for Devon and Cornwall.
Mike Dunning, a spokesman for the agency, said no rivers in the two counties were at risk of flooding, though two warnings and a dozen alerts remained in place across the six-county region with pumps in place to protect communities in Somerset.
“The alerts have been coming down during the day and we have stood down quite a few so fingers crossed we have got a bit of respite before next week,” Mr Dunning added.
“The rain seems to be coming in waves and more is expected on Monday and Tuesday but few have got a few days for the waters to drop back.”