UK & World News
What Drought? Warnings Of Gales And Floods
Drought-affected areas already lashed by torrential rainfall in recent weeks are being told to brace for gales and more downpours that could trigger flash flooding.
England and Wales have experienced the wettest week since December and forecasters are seeing no sign of the rain letting up.
Strong winds and heavy downpours are expected to hit on Saturday night, with up to 40mm (1.57in) of rain forecast to fall in some drought-afflicted areas.
There is also a risk of falling trees and difficult driving conditions, with gusts of up to 50mph expected.
And forecasters say there will be no respite in the early part of next week.
Sky News weather presenter Nazaneen Ghaffar said: "Latest models are indicating further heavy and thundery showers across the far south of England and Wales on Monday."
Supermarkets have reported soaring sales of wellies and umbrellas in the face of the deluge.
The Environment Agency has warned of the possibility of localised flooding across parts of the South West, South East and Midlands, East of England and Wales on Sunday as the wet weather moves in.
Many of the areas at risk of floods are currently in a state of drought, which is gripping the South East, East Anglia, the Midlands, the South West and south and east Yorkshire after two unusually dry winters in a row.
In its latest weekly drought briefing, the Environment Agency said all regions had now received above average rainfall for April, boosting river levels and providing relief for farmers, gardeners and wildlife in drought areas.
But groundwater levels remained low and the rain was not yet making a difference to the drought conditions, the agency warned.
And the risk of flash floods is increased as heavy rain quickly runs off ground left hard and compacted by previous arid spells.
Nine flood warnings are in place for the North East, with properties at risk from rising water levels in a number of rivers including the Ouse in York.
Householders are being urged to take action to protect their homes.
Another band of rain looks set to hit the country on Tuesday.
The latest downpours come at the end of a particularly wet week for England and Wales, in which 42mm (1.7in) of rain fell in the South East and 55mm (2.2in) in the South West, which has now had 166% of the average rainfall for April.
More than two dozen properties were flooded in St Helen Auckland, Co Durham, on Thursday, while there were localised floods in Devon and Cornwall earlier in the week.
But the rain is unlikely to help shift the hosepipe bans imposed by seven water companies across southern and eastern England.
The Environment Agency has suggested householders buy water butts this weekend to capture rainfall which can be used to water gardens if dry weather returns.