Rains Ease But Forecasters Warn Of Big Freeze Ahead

PA  |  Posted: 1/05/2012 22:31 Updated: 2/05/2012 10:03   PA

Weather forecasters are predicting further downpours and freezing temperatures

Flood waters have receded but forecasters are warning the recent deluges could be followed by unseasonable frost and sub zero temperatures.

Although dozens of flood warnings remained in place and some rivers were set to reach their peaks, the worst appeared to be over for the time being.

But the rain was expected to return later in the week, along with freezing weather in some areas.

Meteogroup, the weather division of the Press Association, predicted only a brief respite from the downpours.

Senior forecaster Paul Mott said: "It's turning drier over many areas now, and through the night and tomorrow it will be drier.

"But then there will be further fairly heavy rain coming in from the east tomorrow night and it looks like there'll be some localised flooding again, particularly in low lying river valleys."

Up to 25mm of rainfall was forecast for Wednesday night and into Thursday over southern England and south Wales.

But the downpours are likely to gradually ease on Thursday afternoon, it was predicted.

The weekend was set to be drier but colder, with frost on Saturday night a possibility in rural parts of northern England and Scotland, Mr Mott said.

Temperatures were forecast to plunge as low as -1C in these areas - some eight degrees below the current average night time temperature.

"It's not unheard of to have these temperatures as this time of year but it's certainly colder than average," the forecaster said.

Meanwhile tributes were paid to a "very well respected" Mental Health Tribunal judge who died after the car he was in was swept away by 5ft of fast-flowing water as it drove across a ford.

Jonathan Gammon, 52, from Kingston Lane, Teddington, Middlesex, was trapped in his Toyota Yaris as it attempted to cross a ford in Hampshire yesterday morning.

The car was swept downstream about 100 metres and became submerged by flood water, according to Hampshire police.

Mr Gammon's wife, who is 55 and is understood to have been driving the vehicle, was able to get out. She was taken to hospital where she was treated for shock.

Mr Gammon was recovered from the vehicle by fire and rescue crews and later pronounced dead at the scene.

Phillip Sycamore, president of the first tier tribunal health, education and social care chamber, praised Mr Gammon's "tremendous talent", describing him as a "very well respected and popular colleague."

The Environment Agency urged people to keep away from swollen rivers and not attempt to walk or drive through flood waters in the wake of the tragedy.

Around 100 properties have flooded in England and Wales since Friday, the agency said.

A spokesman said: "The Environment Agency is continuing to keep a close watch on river levels as well as checking defences and clearing any potential blockages to reduce the risk of flooding."

Gloucestershire County Council said some roads were closed earlier, including one lane of Flaxley Road in Cinderford which was shut after the road collapsed, and a number of minor routes in Tewkesbury which were under water.

Other roads around the county were "passable with care" and there were no significant closures. Many roads had tree debris and standing water, but the council said Gloucestershire Highways staff were working hard to keep roads open.

Although the wettest April on record has started to restore water levels below ground, the Environment Agency said it would take much more time and rain to undo the effects of two dry winters and bring swathes of England out of drought.

Thames Water warned its 8.8 million customers a hosepipe ban would remain in place despite heavy downpours bringing more than double the long-term average rain for the month.

The UK's biggest water company said the rain had not made up for a shortfall caused by below-average rainfall in 20 of the previous 25 months.

Richard Aylard, director of sustainability and external affairs for Thames Water, said the firm was aware of the "irony" that heavy rain had set in after the hosepipe ban was announced.

"But it took the two driest years since records began for us to get into this drought, and one wet month, even one as wet as April, will not be enough to get us out of it," he said.

The company said river flows in the Thames region have been boosted by the recent rainfall, with the Pang in Berkshire, which had dried up completely, flowing again due to run-off from nearby fields.

But it said it expected water levels on the Pang, like other rivers in the region, to drop rapidly again because of exceptionally low groundwater levels.

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Filed by David Hobbs  |