Third of a month's rain to hit on Wednesday

Picture: PA
Picture: PA

Areas of north-west Britain, Wales and Scotland under water or at risk of flooding may have two days of respite but over a third of a month's rain is due to hit on Wednesday.

The rain will ease up on Monday and Tuesday but by midweek, heavy rain and 70mph gales are set to cause more misery as a new weather front sweeps in from the west.

Areas already saturated with rain will have a greater risk of more flooding as 4.7in (120 mm) is expected. The monthly average for western England in December is between 11.8in and 13.8in (300mm to 350mm)

Shap in Cumbria has so far seen the most rain, enduring a record of three and a half times its average rainfall of a staggering 28.6in (728mm) from December 1 to Boxing Day.

And more is threatened. Forecasters say today (Monday) and tomorrow (Tuesday) promise to be fairly uneventful, although there is a yellow warning of high winds in Scotland and Northern Ireland in place for tomorrow. Temperatures remain fairly mild for this time of year, in the low teens. The balmy weather is down to a jet stream allowing warm air to come up from the south.

But on Wednesday everything changes and the Met Office has issued a yellow warning for the North West, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, and an amber warning for parts of Scotland, including the Borders.

The cold front is expected to hit Cumbria during Tuesday night, bringing with it 1.5in (40mm), with higher ground seeing between 3.1in (80mm) and 4.7in (120mm). The mid-belt of Scotland from Glasgow and Edinburgh could even see up to six inches (150mm).

Forecasters said the weather was down to bad luck, as a system that we would normally avoid in other years has hit us.

However, Thursday should bring clearer spells and only light rain for affected areas.

Met Office forecaster Sophie Yeomans said: "We do have a yellow weather warning for parts of Wales, Northern Ireland and Western England on Wednesday, Widely there will be 20 to 40mm of rain but this could be between 60 and 80mm in higher grounds. Gale speeds could reach up to 70mph.

"There will be a risk of flooding in Cumbria because the ground is already saturated. It does depend on how each river responds though. Lancashire will face some localised flooding, but York looks like it is just outside that yellow weather warning.

"We have an amber warning in some parts of Scotland including Glasgow and Edinburgh for heavy rain and wind. Some exposed parts of south-west Scotland could receive between 100mm and 150mm of rain. Widely it will be between 20mm and 40mm.

"It's just a case that a weather system that would normally pass to the north or maybe south of us in other years, has affected us this year. We've not made any scientific assumptions on climate change.

"It's mostly western areas as the rain will break up and become less heavy as it moves east. Once the front has pushed through and reached eastern areas there will be quite a few clear spells around."