Heavy rain spark flooding fears

HMS St Albans (background) with the Russian frigate Yaroslav Mudry Picture: PO Lee Blease

Portsmouth frigate escorts Russian warship through English Channel

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Parts of southern England are facing fresh flood fears after heavy rain lashed southern Britain overnight following the wettest April since records began.

More than 20mm (0.8in) of rain deluged some regions in the space of 12 hours as already-saturated river catchments neared bursting point - and more downpours are forecast for today.

It came after a man and his dog drowned when their car attempted to cross a flooded ford in Hampshire.

The Environment Agency (EA) remains on “high alert” for flooding and has put in place 40 flood warnings across England and Wales where flooding is expected and 152 flood alerts, where flooding is possible. The only region to not be affected by the warnings is the north west.

The EA said in a statement: ‘There is still a risk of flooding across many parts of England and Wales with particular focus on Somerset, Dorset and Devon.

‘River flows are high after this weekend’s rainfall and we are keeping a close watch on river levels as well as checking defences and clearing any potential blockages to reduce the risk of flooding.’

Meanwhile The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for heavy downpours for the south of England until 3pm today.

A Met Office spokesman said: ’Outbreaks of rain, heavy and possibly thundery, are likely to affect southern England during Tuesday.

‘The public should be aware that, following recent heavy rainfall, further localised flooding is possible. There will also be difficult driving conditions at times.

‘As we move through daylight hours on Tuesday the risk of heavy rain will gradually reduce.’

The national forecaster said that 32mm (1.3in) of rain had fallen over Exmoor in the past 24 hours, while in the 12 hours leading up to 4am, more than 20mm (0.8in) had fallen in south Wales and 16.4mm (0.7in) had deluged Bournemouth Airport.

In north Hampshire a man and a dog died when the car they were travelling in became completely submerged in 5ft of fast-flowing water as it drove across a flooded ford in Compton Wood.

His 54-year-old wife was able to escape from the car as it was swept downstream, but the man, from the Middlesex area, had to be recovered from the vehicle and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The UK saw the wettest April since records, dating back a century to 1910, began, according to provisional figures from the Met Office.

The figures up to April 29 showed an average of 121.8 mm had fallen (4.8 inches) so far this month, almost double the long term average for April of 69.6mm (2.7 inches) and beating the previous record of 120.3mm (4.7 inches) set in 2000.

Over the weekend downpours and winds of up to 70mph in south-west England and Wales brought down trees, left thousands of homes without power and disrupted rail services, while low-lying fields and some roads were submerged.

Despite the heavy rain, swathes of England are still in a state of drought, with warnings that the downpours were not enough to counteract the effects of two unusually dry winters.