UK & World News
Forecast Floods May Make 2012 Wettest Ever
Large parts of Britain have been told to prepare for more heavy rain, gales and possible flooding this weekend.
The Environment Agency (EA) said that the west of the UK is expected to take the brunt of further wet weather, with many areas still saturated with water from before Christmas, when floods forced many to flee their homes.
The Met Office forecast heavy rain on Saturday, and then for Sunday into Monday morning.
It has also issued a yellow warning for snow in much of central and northern Scotland, starting in the evening and continuing through mid-day Sunday.
In some areas, 4-6in (10-15 cm) of fresh snow is expected, while winds will be strong and ice could become a danger on some roads.
The EA has issued scores of flood warnings and over 200 flood alerts across the country, with the Midlands, the South East and South West worst affected.
Pete Fox, the EA's flood risk manager, said: "Flooding is devastating at any time of year, but particularly at Christmas. Unfortunately, more heavy rain is forecast for this weekend.
"As a result, we're urging people, particularly those in North Wales and western England, to remain vigilant to flooding.
"We're working around the clock to continue to protect homes and businesses from flooding and there are also things that people can do to protect themselves and their properties.
"If you're driving home this weekend, give yourself extra time to make your journey, check your route before travelling and avoid driving through flood water. Check the risk of flooding for your property and, if you're at risk, move valuable items to safety."
This year is expected to become the soggiest since records began more than a century ago.
According to the Met Office just 1.8in (46mm) of rain is needed to fall before December 31 to make 2012 the wettest on record for the UK overall.
A new record has already been set for England with 43.1in (1,095.8mm) falling between January 1 and Boxing Day.
The UK as a whole had 50.8in (1,291.2mm) of rain from January 1 to December 26. The wettest year on record for the UK is currently 2000, when 52.6in (1,337.3mm) of rain fell.
Warnings and alerts have been commonplace since the end of November when deluges flooded homes across the country, causing rivers to burst their banks and roads to become impassable.
Pockets of the UK have had to endure being cut off temporarily, with homes evacuated and residents forced to seek refuge elsewhere, while the country's public transport system has been brought to its knees.
The recent heavy rain, coupled with late-running engineering work and other problems, has meant a miserable return to work for train travellers since Thursday.
First Great Western said the main line in the South West, which has been closed since before Christmas because of flooding between Exeter St Davids and Tiverton, is expected to reopen later today.