UK weather: Alert for cold conditions will be in force for most of next week, amid fears flooding impact could last for days | UK News
A yellow cold weather alert across England comes into force at 9am this morning – and will remain in force for most of next week.
All of this comes as many parts of the country continue to grapple with the aftermath of Storm Henk, with heavy rainfall inundating homes and almost cutting off communities.
As of 2am on Saturday, 244 flood warnings – meaning flooding is expected – have been issued by the Environment Agency. A further 262 flood alerts, indicating flooding is possible, also remain in force.
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“Significant river flooding impacts” are expected to continue today across parts of the Midlands on the River Trent and in Gloucester, as well as areas of the South West on the River Avon.
Disruption elsewhere in England could last for the next five days because the ground is “completely saturated”.
Almost every river in England is at an exceptionally high level, with some rivers reaching their highest flow on record.
Alex McDonald, an Environment Agency spokeswoman, said: “We’re seeing a large number of big events, and this winter has been particularly bad since October onwards.
“We are feeling the effects of climate change in the East Midlands, and as a nation we need to be more resilient to flooding.”
What cold weather alert means
The UK Health Security Agency’s warning will be in place until 12pm on 12 January, with forecasters warning of icy conditions as temperatures plunge below freezing.
While colder conditions increase risks to the most vulnerable, with “significant impacts possible” in the health sector, there are hopes that river levels will start to go down as rainfall eases.
The agency said: “Temperatures are likely to be a few degrees below average, across much of the UK, especially overnight, with more widespread frosts than of late.
“Ice is likely to be an issue for many given the very wet ground in most areas. It is probable this cold spell may last well into the following week.”
Meanwhile, Met Office forecaster Oli Claydon said conditions are turning “considerably drier” – with no rain warnings in force for the first time in a while.
“We’re heading to a more settled spell of weather, which will be very welcome for many people across the UK after what’s been a very wet start to 2024,” he added.
Sky meteorologist Steff Gaulter added: ” Flooding issues should gradually subside as the weather begins to change. The change to colder and brighter conditions will be welcome, but it won’t happen instantly.”
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Govt ‘asleep at the wheel’ during flooding crisis
Rishi Sunak’s government has been criticised by rival parties for its handling of the flooding, with the prime minister urged to visit affected areas.
Labour accused the government of being “asleep at the wheel” over flood warnings, and said Mr Sunak should convene a “COBRA-style taskforce” to protect homes from further damage.
Sir Keir Starmer has said “people’s lives shouldn’t be upended by extreme rain”, and vowed to make flood defences “fit for purpose” if he wins the next election.
But floods minister Robbie Moore has insisted that the government has “absolutely” provided enough money for flood prevention, with £5.2bn pledged to better protect homes.
Travel disruption is set to continue this weekend, with flooding across the Great Western Railway network meaning trains may be cancelled at short notice.
There are set to be fewer services on long-distance routes, and customers are being urged to check before they travel.