Cars pass each other on a flooded road in the village of Yalding in Kent, southern England, yesterday.
LONDON: Britain remains in the grip of the worst run of winter storms for two decades. Coastal areas — particularly in southern England — are most vulnerable because of unusually high tides and the arrival of a strong Atlantic storm.
The Met Office has issued yellow weather warnings of ice and rain, predicting river and surface flooding as well as travel disruption, mainly in south Wales and the south-west and south-east of England. Up to 40mm of rain could fall on higher ground.
Inland rainfall will put pressure on rivers, endangering nearby communities including those along the river Medway in Kent, the river Thames in Oxford and Osney, and the river Severn estuary in Gloucestershire. The Thames barrier will remain closed to protect land near the river.
Matt Dobson, a forecaster for MeteoGroup, said the rain “simply has nowhere to go” because weeks of severe weather had left the ground waterlogged and rivers rising over their banks.
The strong winds, persistent rain and tidal waves are predicted to batter the UK for at least another two days, as emergency services attempt to cope with the trail of devastation already created by the severe weather.
More than 200 homes have been flooded from Cornwall to Scotland, with miles of coastline affected and roads and fields across the country left under water. Two people have already died in the storms: A 27-year-old man from Surrey was found on Porthleven Sands beach in Cornwall after he was swept out to sea on New Year’s Eve night, and a woman died after being rescued from the sea in Croyde Bay, north Devon.
Dozens of volunteers in south Devon have resumed their search for missing 18-year-old student Harry Martin, who was last seen leaving his home to take photographs of the weather.
Officials have pleaded with people to keep away from coastal areas, where waves up to 12 metres high have lashed the land. A man and child were almost swept away by a huge wave at Mullion Cove in Cornwall as they peered over the sea wall to watch the raging sea, and elsewhere in Cornwall vehicles driving on a coastal road were swamped and almost washed away by a tidal surge.
In Aberystwyth, a man was rescued by lifeboat after he defied police warnings and became trapped when photographing waves from a harbour jetty. Aberystwyth University has deferred the start of the examination period by one week and is advising students not to travel to the coastal town until the middle of next week.
Debris was strewn across the town’s promenade, while rail lines in north Wales were left buckled by the power of the sea and a road collapsed in Amroth, Pembrokeshire.