UK & World News
Flood Fears Rise Ahead Of A Soggy Christmas
Flooding is set to hit Britain as successive bands of heavy rain move across the country ahead of a damp Christmas.
Most of England, Wales and Scotland is expected to be wet today with heavy rain in some places.
Snow is also likely over the Scottish mountains, especially on southeast-facing slopes of the Grampians where blizzard conditions are possible.
The number of flood alerts and warnings issued by the Environment Agency (EA) in England and Wales and Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) is expected to rise during the day.
The Met Office said since 6pm last night 39.6mm of rain fell at Cardinham in Cornwall, while 29.6mm fell in London's Hampstead.
Sky News weather presenter Isabel Lang said: "Although it will ease during the day in the South West, there will be persistent rain elsewhere.
"Amounts of rain will vary but a further 25 to 50mm is forecast today which will continue to raise flooding concerns.
"Driving conditions will also be difficult in places with standing water and localised flooding already reported."
Although Friday will largely be dry in the South West, the next band of rain is set to move in by the evening and brings renewed flood risks.
Lang said: "The next band coming through is very moist and warm air. There is the potential for major disruption.
"After a white Christmas in 2010 and an unseasonably warm 2011, we may have a wet 2012 Christmas."
Hampshire Fire and Rescue has made 18 rescues since last night, including 10 water rescues of people trapped in cars and eight from flooded homes.
They continue to receive calls from people affected and police have advised against all but necessary travel in New Forest and Emsworth. Roads are also flooded in Fareham and Portsmouth.
EA flood risk manager Craig Woolhouse said: "Our teams are out around the clock to minimise the risks and prepare for flooding, clearing drainage channels and ensuring that flood defences are working properly.
People have been advised to check their route for disruption before travelling, and not to drive or walk through floodwater.
The EA now offers a free flood warning service on its website.
Mr Woolhouse said: "We urge people to keep up to date with the weather forecast and local news overnight and remain prepared for flooding in their area by signing up to receive free flood warnings and staying away from dangerous flood water."
:: Information is available on the Environment Agency website or by calling the EA Flood Line on 0845 988 1188.