Further torrential rain and strong winds are likely to bring flooding to areas of the UK that have so far managed to avoid the worst of the weather, forecasters have warned.
The Met Office has issued amber warnings in London, south-east England, south-west England and Wales, predicting that more downpours and winds of up to 80mph will hit the UK on Friday night and Saturday.
The Environment Agency currently has two severe flood warnings – meaning there is a danger to life – in place in the south-west, with 153 lesser warnings issued across the country.
Many areas of the UK witnessed the wettest January on record last month, and the miserable conditions look set to continue as another area of low pressure comes in from the Atlantic.
One area that is certain to be affected is the already heavily flooded Somerset Levels. Between 30-40mm of rainfall is expected to fall in the region, where many places have been flooded for over a month.
Some villages have already been evacuated, and residents from the village of Moorland were urged to leave their homes in the early hours of Friday, when temporary flood defences were breached.
The chairman of the Environment Agency Lord Smith is on his way to visit the levels for the first time since the flooding began. Smith may not receive a warm welcome, after his claims that the government would eventually have to choose between defending cities or the countryside angered locals.
Amid criticism of the agency’s efforts, floods minister Dan Rogerson yesterday gave the green light for 42 new flood schemes.
“Our flood defences have been seriously tested over the past two months which is why we are investing in repairs to ensure these crucial defences can withstand future storms”, he said.
Rogerson also announced that the government will spend an extra £130m to maintain flood defences ahead of next year. Though the move will be welcomed by many, experts have warned that much more spending will be required.
On Wednesday, Daniel Johns, head of adaptation at the Committee on Climate Change, said the UK must spend an extra £500m over the next four years to prepare for the increased risk of flooding brought by climate change.