Communities threatened by floodwaters will enjoy some respite on Friday before rain returns to lash the UK during a washout weekend.

Some parts of the country may even enjoy a peek of sunshine, but that will disappear when the next band of rain comes into the South West and moves across the country later today.

Forecasters say up to 45mm, almost 2ins, of rain could fall in the 24 hours from 6pm tonight, and the Environment Agency is warning people to be braced for more threats of flooding.

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Waves crash into the sea wall at Seaham Harbour as parts of the UK are braced for poor weather


The threat will cause concern for hundreds of thousands of people who will be travelling this weekend for Christmas break.

Motorists are being warned not to use flooded roads, and an AA spokesman said the service attended more than 320 breakdowns yesterday due to vehicles getting stuck in floodwater.

Thousands of people travelling for the Christmas break are being urged to plan ahead as the heavy rain disrupts road and rail journeys.

A number of services have been cancelled because of flooding, the National Rail website said.

rain christmas

A car makes its way along a flooded road


Trains are cancelled between Ellesmere Port and Hooton near Chester until further notice, with a replacement bus service running. Trains between Crewe and Chester are also cancelled because of flooding, while trains between Chester and Wrexham General are delayed by up to 25 minutes.

There are delays of up to 20 minutes between Darlington and Newcastle, while a landslip in Stirling, central Scotland, means buses are replacing trains between Bridge of Orchy and Crianlarich.

Floods near Uttoxeter and Stoke-on-Trent have also caused rail disruptions, with a replacement bus service, while there are delays between Derby and Nottingham and East Midlands Parkway.

Services between Liskeard and Looe are also affected, with replacement bus services adding 30 minutes to journey times.

Heavy rain swept England and Wales on Thursday, leaving residents on tenterhooks as river levels rose.

But while large swathes of the country were on alert, there was no repeat of last month's flooding that caused widespread devastation.

In Wallington, Hampshire, there was a severe flood warning as the River Wallington threatened to burst its banks.

Havant Borough Council evacuated 85 properties as a precaution, the Environment Agency said, and staff reinforced a flood wall which had shown signs of cracking.

The wall held, and flood warnings for the area were removed as the levels receded.

Nearly 400 flood alerts and warnings are currently in place, the agency said, including 91 more serious flood warnings, focused on the South West, East Anglia, the Midlands and the North East.

The River Ouse in York is rising steadily, and levels are expected to peak late on Friday afternoon, while the nearby River Ure is also being monitored by Environment Agency staff as it rises. In Dorset the River Stour is rising and threatening farmland near Bournemouth.

In Cornwall, there was a minor landslide near Gorran Haven which left a tonne of soil blocking the road.

In St Cleer, near Liskeard, one woman had to be rescued from her car after becoming trapped by floodwater, while a man became trapped after driving over a humpback bridge crossing the Bude Canal and found himself surrounded by fast-flowing and rising water, Cornwall Council said.

John Curtin, head of incident management at the Environment Agency, warned people to be alert to the risk of flooding over the weekend.

He said: "Our teams are out around the clock to minimise the risks and prepare for flooding, clearing drainage channels and ensuring that flood defences are working properly.

"We would urge people in at risk areas to keep up to date with the latest situation by checking the Environment Agency website and remain prepared for flooding in their area by signing up to receive free flood warnings.

"With a very busy travel weekend coming up, we would also ask that people check their route before travelling, and remember not to drive or walk through flood water."

Andy Ratcliffe, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said rain had been confined to the North East and Scotland overnight, and that today would largely be dry.

He said: "Throughout today rain will ease in many places, but it will be persistent across eastern Scotland.

"It will be largely dry for most, with the risk of the odd shower. It will be dry until evening, when the next band of rain moves into the South West.

"It will rain during the evening, before pushing north east across most areas overnight, heavy and persistent, with large amounts of rainfall, especially in the South West, which will see between 40mm and 45mm in the 24 hours to 6pm on Saturday.

"Through tomorrow the heavy pulse of rain will push north eastwards, and it will be patchy across much of England and Wales.

"It is a really unsettled picture, and over the next few days there will continue to be a pretty wide risk of flooding."

Loading Slideshow...
  • Winter weather 20th Dec

    A car makes its way along a flooded road in Seaham as parts of the UK are braced for further flooding as successive bands of heavy rain move across the country.

  • Winter weather 20th Dec

    A Christmas tree sits up on a bench, out of the rising flood waters surrounding a property in Emsworth, Hampshire.

  • Winter weather 20th Dec

    Residents pump rising flood waters from around their properties in Emsworth, Hampshire.

  • Winter weather 20th Dec

    David Pratt attempts to keep the rising flood waters from entering his home in Emsworth, Hampshire.

  • Winter weather 20th Dec

    David Pratt (right) attempts to keep the rising flood waters from entering his home in Emsworth, Hampshire.

  • Winter weather 20th Dec

    Rising flood waters surround a property in Emsworth, Hampshire.

  • Winter weather 20th Dec

    The Environment Agency constructs the Bewdley flood defense barrier as the level of river Severn rises, as parts of the UK are braced for further flooding as successive bands of heavy rain move across the country.

  • Winter weather 20th Dec

    The Environment Agency constructs the Bewdley flood defense barrier as the level of river Severn rises, as parts of the UK are braced for further flooding as successive bands of heavy rain move across the country.

  • Winter weather 20th Dec

    Residents take precautionary measures against possible flooding in Emsworth, Hampshire.

  • Winter weather 20th Dec

    The Environment Agency constructs the Bewdley flood defense barrier as the level of river Severn rises, as parts of the UK are braced for further flooding as successive bands of heavy rain move across the country.

  • Winter weather 20th Dec

    A motorist drives his car through flood waters in Chichester, West Sussex. Forecasters are predicting a prolonged period of wet weather right through Christmas.

  • Winter weather 20th Dec

    Shoppers shelter under umbrellas as they pass the Christmas tree in the centre of Chichester, West Sussex. Forecasters are predicting a prolonged period of wet weather right through Christmas.

  • Winter weather 20th Dec

    Drivers go through flood waters in Chichester, West Sussex. Forecasters are predicting a prolonged period of wet weather right through Christmas.

  • Winter weather 20th Dec

    Shoppers shelter under umbrellas as they pass a Christmas pop-up shop in the centre of Chichester, West Sussex. Forecasters are predicting a prolonged period of wet weather right through Christmas.

  • Winter weather 20th Dec

    Christmas shoppers brave the bad conditions as wet weather sweeps across Nottingham City Centre.

  • Winter weather 20th Dec

    A man walks beyond a Christmas tree with fake snow adorning it in the Christmas Wonderland market under a large umbrella, as wet weather sweeps across Nottingham City Centre. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday December 20, 2012. Nottingham has had 33.2mm of rainfall in the last 24 hrs and another 10-15mm is expected this afternoon and evening. Photo credit should read: Lewis Stickley/PA Wire

  • Winter weather 20th Dec

    Christmas shoppers brave the bad conditions as wet weather sweeps across Nottingham City Centre. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday December 20, 2012. Nottingham has had 33.2mm of rainfall in the last 24 hrs and another 10-15mm is expected this afternoon and evening. Photo credit should read: Lewis Stickley/PA Wire

  • Winter weather 20th Dec

    Christmas shoppers brave the bad conditions as wet weather sweeps across Nottingham City Centre.

  • Winter weather 20th Dec

    People walk through the seasonal Christmas Wonderland market under umbrellas as wet weather sweeps across Nottingham City Centre.

  • Winter weather 20th Dec

    People walk into the seasonal Christmas Wonderland market under umbrellas as wet weather sweeps across Nottingham City Centre.

  • Winter weather 20th Dec

    Shoppers shelter under umbrellas as they pass a Christmas pop-up shop in the centre of Chichester, West Sussex. Forecasters are predicting a prolonged period of wet weather right through Christmas.

  • Winter weather 20th Dec

    A woman throws a ball for her dog in the wind and rain on South Beach in Bridlington, East Yorkshire.

  • Winter weather 20th Dec

    Waves crash into the sea wall at Seaham Harbour as parts of the UK are braced for further flooding as successive bands of heavy rain move across the country.

  • Winter weather 20th Dec

    Waves crash into the sea wall at Seaham Harbour as parts of the UK are braced for further flooding as successive bands of heavy rain move across the country.

  • Winter weather 20th Dec

    Waves crash into the sea wall at Seaham Harbour as parts of the UK are braced for further flooding as successive bands of heavy rain move across the country.

  • Winter weather 20th Dec

    Waves crash into the sea wall at Seaham Harbour as parts of the UK are braced for further flooding as successive bands of heavy rain move across the country.

  • Winter weather 20th Dec

    Waves crash into the sea wall at Seaham Harbour as parts of the UK are braced for further flooding as successive bands of heavy rain move across the country.

  • Winter weather 20th Dec

    Waves crash into the sea wall at Seaham Harbour as parts of the UK are braced for further flooding as successive bands of heavy rain move across the country.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Freezing Fog And Frost Hit The UK

    LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 12: The early morning frost clings to a cobweb in Regents Park on December 12, 2012 in London, England. Forecasters have warned that the UK could experience the coldest day of the year so far today, with temperatures dropping as low as -14C, bringing widespread ice, harsh frosts and freezing fog. Travel disruption is expected with warnings for heavy snow in some parts of the country. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

  • Winter weather December 12th

    British Airways planes wait to depart from Terminal 5 at Heathrow, London, as airports have been forced to cancel dozens of flights as ice and thick fog descended on the UK overnight.

  • Winter weather December 12th

    Frozen berries on a tree in South Derbyshire. Freezing fog played havoc with travel today, with flights cancelled, roads jammed and delays on main line rail and Tube services.

  • Winter weather December 12th

    A British Airways takes off as thick fog leads to cancelled flights at Heathrow Airport.

  • Winter weather December 12th

    A British Airways plane as thick fog leads to cancelled flights at Heathrow Airport.

  • Winter weather December 12th

    A horse stands in minus 3 degrees in a field near Heathrow Airport as thick fog leads to cancelled flights.

  • Winter weather December 12th

    A man walks up Cam Peak in the Cotswolds as cold temperatures lead to a frost.

  • A jogger runs across frost covered grass in a park in London, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012. Flights at London's Heathrow and City airports have been disrupted by morning fog. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

  • Winter weather December 12th

    A severe overnight frost gives a seasonal look to Strensall Golf Club near York as early golfers set off on their round.

  • Hoar frost on a bush in Kemble, near Stroud, central England, as cold temperatures led to a severe frost. Overnight temperatures in the area dipped to -9 Celsius, 16 Fahrenheit. (AP Photo/PA, Tim Ireland) UNITED KINGDOM OUT NO SALES NO ARCHIVE

  • Winter weather December 12th

    Hoar frost on a bush in Kemble, Gloucestershire, as cold temperatures lead to a frost.

  • Winter weather December 12th

    The view from Cam Peak in the Cotswolds as cold temperatures lead to a frost.

  • Pedestrians walk along a bank of the River Thames just after sunrise in London, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012. Flights at London's Heathrow and City airport have been disrupted by morning fog. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

  • Fog clears from Tower Bridge which spans the River Thames in London, Wednesday, Dec.12, 2012. Flights at London's Heathrow and City airport have been disrupted by morning fog. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

  • Winter weather December 12th

    A severe overnight frost gives a seasonal look to Strensall Golf Club near York as early golfers set off on their round.

  • Winter weather December 12th

    Frost covers fields and trees near Arundel, West Sussex where temperatures failed to rise above zero degrees Celsius before lunch.

  • Winter weather December 12th

    Frost clings to trees near Arundel, West Sussex where temperatures failed to rise above zero degrees Celsius before lunch.

  • Winter weather December 12th

    Frost clings to a fence near Arundel, West Sussex where temperatures failed to rise above zero degrees Celsius before lunch.

  • Winter weather December 12th

    General view of mist on the London Skyline as temperatures struggle to reach 2 degrees in the capital, London.

  • Winter weather December 12th

    General view of mist on the London Skyline as temperatures struggle to reach 2 degrees in the capital, London.

  • Winter weather December 12th

    Dog walkers in the frost at Rother Valley Country Park, near Sheffield.

  • Winter weather December 12th

    Frost covers a sign near Arundel, West Sussex where temperatures failed to rise above zero degrees Celsius before lunch.

  • A horse feeds under a tree as frost covers fields and trees around Arundel, West Sussex, England, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012. (AP Photo/PA, Chris Ison) UNITED KINGDOM OUT, NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE

  • Winter weather December 12th

    Frost covers fields and trees near Arundel, West Sussex where temperatures failed to rise above zero degrees Celsius before lunch.

  • Winter weather December 12th

    People look at the trees at Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire as cold temperatures lead to a frost.

  • Winter weather December 12th

    People look at the trees at Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire as cold temperatures lead to a frost.

  • Winter weather December 12th

    A person walks past the trees at Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire as cold temperatures lead to a frost.

  • Winter weather December 12th

    General view of mist on the London Skyline as temperatures struggle to reach 2 degrees in the capital, London.

  • People look at the trees at Westonbirt Arboretum, near Stroud, central England, as cold temperatures led to a severe frost. Overnight temperatures in the area dipped to -9 Celsius, 16 Fahrenheit. (AP Photo/PA, Tim Ireland) UNITED KINGDOM OUT NO SALES NO ARCHIVE

  • Winter weather December 12th

    People look at the trees at Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire as cold temperatures lead to a frost.

  • Winter weather December 12th

    A person looks out over a foggy scene near Dursley in Gloucestershire as cold temperatures lead to a frost.

  • Winter weather December 12th

    Frost clings to a dinghy in Emsworth, Hampshire as the cold snap continues.

  • Winter weather December 12th

    General view of mist on the London Skyline as temperatures struggle to reach 2 degrees in the capital, London.

  • Winter weather December 12th

    A dog walker in the frost at Rother Valley Country Park, near Sheffield.

  • Winter weather December 12th

    Dog walkers in the frost at Rother Valley Country Park, near Sheffield.