Flood alerts in Devon and Cornwall as storms sweep in
Heavy rain, strong winds, thunderstorms and risks of flooding are set to ruin the rest of half-term in the South West.
The Environment Agency and Met Office are both warning that the South West of England is of particular risk of flooding from rivers in November and December after recent heavy rainfall – and say this weekend is expected to be hit by thunder storms and yet more rain.
Paul Gainey, a spokesman for the Environment Agency, said eight flood alerts – which warn people to prepare for a risk of flooding – had been issued in the South West.
He added that those alerts could be upgraded to flood warnings – which warn that floods are expected and that immediate action is needed – in the coming hours.
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He said: "We are monitoring the situation closely, and although there doesn't appear to be anything too severe yet we are not being complacent.
"Certain places are not protected by flood defences, and we would advise people in those areas to take action to prevent their homes being flooded.
"They can protect their homes in many different ways from using sandbags to moving some items upstairs."
Unseasonably high groundwater levels also means there is increased risk of flooding and the agencies also warn that the risk of coastal flooding also increases at this time of year.
The wettest April to June on record, and further wet weather in July, September and October, has left river levels full, the ground saturated and groundwaters in some areas exceptionally high. The Met Office warned the region to brace itself for several days of "showery" weather, with storms due to hit some coastal areas of the country over the weekend.
Forecasters said some parts of Devon and Cornwall would face "thundery showers", chilly temperatures, and blustery winds of up to 40mph.
Other areas could be hit by localised flooding.
Parts of North Cornwall and Devon are expected to be hit by persistent rain and possibly "hail and thunder" into the weekend.
Upland areas on Dartmoor, Exmoor, and Bodmin Moor could be hit by hail storms, with swirling winds of up to 40mph.
Elsewhere, winds of between 20mph and 30mph are expected for much of the next three days, while temperatures should hover about 50F (10C) and slightly cooler on the moors and coasts.
Charlie Powell, a Met Office spokesman, said: "The forecast throughout Friday, Saturday and into Sunday is showery and changeable.
"All parts of the South West will experience showers at some point. And showers will be more frequent in the west, on north-facing coasts, and on the moors.
"But many places will have fine, decent weather."
Weather forecasters yesterday predicted that thunder storms and lightning strikes off the west coast could move onto land in North Devon and Cornwall.
Devon and Dorset are among counties particularly at risk of flooding.
The risk of coastal flooding increases at this time of year, especially during periods of high spring tides from November 12-18 and December 12-18.
Sarah Jackson, the Met Office's chief adviser to the Government, said: "We are heading into the winter period which is traditionally the wetter period of the year in the UK.
"Because the ground is so wet, if we do have any prolonged heavy rainfall in any part of the country, there is going to be heightened risk of flooding.
"We recommend that everyone keeps up-to-date with the latest forecasts and warnings in periods of wet weather to be prepared."
Paul Mustow, head of flood incident management at the Environment Agency, said: "This year our flood defences have protected over 119,000 properties, but we cannot prevent flooding entirely.
"With one in six homes at risk of flooding, the most important step people can take in protecting themselves from the worst impacts is to find out if they are at risk, and sign up to the Environment Agency's free flood warnings service."
Yesterday, a car overturned on a waterlogged road in North Devon, while hail storms were reported in Plympton.
The crash happened on the B3232, near Newton Tracey, in the morning when a blue Volkswagen Golf hit standing water up to three feet deep and on both sides of the road.
The driver, who lost control of his car near St John's Chapel, was taken to hospital.
Drivers were urged to take extreme care, as standing water also caused delays for traffic heading on the A377 near Bishops Tawton.
Torrential rain and strong winds caused havoc in the South West last month, as a month's worth of rain fell during a very wet fortnight from the start of the month.