People across parts of the North West are being warned over the risk of flooding today as the region looks set to be battered by heavy rain.

The Met Office has issued a severe weather warning for heavy rain across parts of Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Lancashire, with 50-60mm (2-2.4 inches) of rainfall expected across much of the area and up to 100mm (4 inches) in some places.

The heavy rain could lead to surface water flooding of roads and land, and there is also a risk of floods from rivers in built-up areas which are quickly affected by large amounts of rainfall, the Environment Agency warned.

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Heavy downpours are battering Britain

In the Isle of Wight heavy floods have led to gridlock on the island with people forced to sleep in their cars.

One mother, Fiona Gregory, said she'd been on the road for over 12 hours. She told the BBC she was travelling to the Isle of Wight's festival as part of a treat for her children, saying : "I'm so upset. It's a complete disaster.... On the island it has been a nightmare. There is no police, no diversion signs, nothing."

The Government agency has urged people in Greater Manchester, Liverpool, the Wirral, North Cheshire and Lancashire to be prepared for the possibility of flooding from this afternoon through to Saturday.

Parts of south-east England, East Anglia, the north and east Midlands and north and west Wales are also on alert for localised surface water flooding today and into the weekend, the Environment Agency said.

Matt Dobson, a forecaster with Meteogroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "The worst weather overnight has been across the North West and into Cheshire, where between 10-20mm (0.4-0.8 inches) fell. Central and southern Scotland were also badly hit.
"Throughout the day the rain really is going to develop from South West Scotland, across Northern Ireland down into north-west England.
"It will be very wet in those areas, with the worst of it in Cumbria and the western Pennines, from Manchester up to Cumbria and across into south-west Scotland, and in north-west Wales as well.

"There will be 20-30mm (0.8-1.2 inches) of rain quite widely, with maybe as much as 50-60mm (2-2.4 inches) of rain over upland areas such as the fells of Cumbria and the western Pennines."

The EA said it had mobilised teams across the North West to check flood defences, clear river blockages and monitor river levels to try to reduce the risk of flooding.

The public are also urged to remain vigilant and check the Environment Agency website and Twitter feed for the latest updates and warnings, with a number of flood alerts and more serious warnings expected.

People are being warned to stay away from swollen rivers and not to drive through floodwater.

Parts of England and Wales have been hit by flooding in recent weeks in the face of unusually wet weather, which came after two dry winters in a row that had left swathes of England in drought.

UK Weather: Rain, Flooding, Doom and Gloom. The British Summer In Pictures
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  • A man shelters from the wind and the rain on June 11, 2012 in Southsea, England. The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings for England and Wales for heavy rain and the Environment Agency has issued flooding alerts in more than 30 areas in south-east England, Wales and the Midlands. The UK's unseasonable weather is said to be due to the jet stream bringing low pressure further south than normal and forecasters say the wet and windy weather could continue for the next few weeks. (Photo credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • Rain falls onto a icecream vendor's booth on June 11, 2012 in Southsea, England. The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings for England and Wales for heavy rain and the Environment Agency has issued flooding alerts in more than 30 areas in south-east England, Wales and the Midlands. The UK's unseasonable weather is said to be due to the jet stream bringing low pressure further south than normal and forecasters say the wet and windy weather could continue for the next few weeks. (Photo credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • A jogger braves the wind and the rain on June 11, 2012 in Southsea, England. The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings for England and Wales for heavy rain and the Environment Agency has issued flooding alerts in more than 30 areas in south-east England, Wales and the Midlands. The UK's unseasonable weather is said to be due to the jet stream bringing low pressure further south than normal and forecasters say the wet and windy weather could continue for the next few weeks. (Photo credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • Visitors to the UNESCO World Heritage site Stonehenge brave the wind and the rain on June 11, 2012 near Amesbury, England. The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings for England and Wales for heavy rain and the Environment Agency has issued flooding alerts in more than 30 areas in south-east England, Wales and the Midlands. The UK's unseasonable weather is said to be due to the jet stream bringing low pressure further south than normal and forecasters say the wet and windy weather could continue for the next few weeks. (Photo credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • Visitors to the UNESCO World Heritage site Stonehenge brave the wind and the rain on June 11, 2012 near Amesbury, England. The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings for England and Wales for heavy rain and the Environment Agency has issued flooding alerts in more than 30 areas in south-east England, Wales and the Midlands. The UK's unseasonable weather is said to be due to the jet stream bringing low pressure further south than normal and forecasters say the wet and windy weather could continue for the next few weeks. (Photo credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

  • A woman wades through water on the A33, which is closed due to flooding in Chineham near Bassingstoke, Hampshire.

  • Standing water on the A33, which is closed due to flooding in Chineham near Bassingstoke, Hampshire.

  • Cars splash through remaining flood water on the A63 outside Leeds after flash flooding in the area last night.

  • Workers survey the water on the A33, which is closed due to flooding in Chineham near Bassingstoke, Hampshire.

  • Standing water on the A33, which is closed due to flooding in Chineham near Bassingstoke, Hampshire.

  • Cars splash through remaining flood water on the A63 outside Leeds after flash flooding in the area last night.

  • A general view of water on the A33, which is closed due to flooding in Chineham near Bassingstoke, Hampshire.

  • Paul Burrow mops the floor in his water damaged kitchen at his home in Swillington, Leeds, after floods tore through the area over the weekend.

  • Gill West mops up after her home was flooded, in Tal-y-bont, Mid Wales, after floods tore through the area over the weekend.

  • A pedestrian jumps over a puddle left by persistent rain in central London on June 11, 2012. Persistent rainfall over much of southern England and the midlands has lead to the risk of flooding with the Met office issuing a severe weather warning. (Photo credit: CARL COURT/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Taxis drive past a puddle left by persistent rain in central London on June 11, 2012. (Photo credit: CARL COURT/AFP/GettyImages)

  • A picture shows the British Houses of Parliament seen through heavy fog and low cloud in London on June 11, 2012. Heavy rain fell over much of the south and central England on June 11, disrupting sporting events like the third Test at Edgbasten and the Aegon Championships and shrouding the captial in a pall of mist and fog. (Photo credit: ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Isle of Wight Festival

  • Isle of Wight Festival