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UK Weather: Heavy Rain Predicted For Week End And New Year 2012 (PICTURES)

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The final weekend of 2012 will bring with it yet further trepidation for weary communities after the Environment Agency urged the public to prepare for more heavy rain and possible flooding.

Warnings and alerts have been commonplace since the end of November, when deluges flooded homes across the UK, causing rivers to burst their banks and roads to become impassable.

Pockets of the UK have had to endure being cut-off temporarily, with homes evacuated and residents forced to seek refuge elsewhere, while the country's public transport system has been brought to its knees.

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A flooded road in Clifton Hampden in Oxfordshire

The Met Office is forecasting heavy rain overnight tonight into tomorrow morning, and then for Sunday into Monday morning.

As a result, the Environment Agency is working with local authorities and emergency services to prepare for possible flooding from rivers, groundwater and surface water across the country over the weekend.

It comes as the UK teeters on the prospect of confirmation that this year has been the wettest since records began more than a century ago.

Pete Fox, flood risk manager at the Environment Agency, said: "Flooding is devastating at any time of year, but particularly at Christmas. Unfortunately, more heavy rain is forecast for this weekend.

"As a result, we're urging people, particularly those in north Wales and western England, to remain vigilant to flooding.

"We're working around the clock to continue to protect homes and businesses from flooding and there are also things that people can do to protect themselves and their properties.

"If you're driving home this weekend, give yourself extra time to make your journey, check your route before travelling and avoid driving through flood water. Check the risk of flooding for your property and, if you're at risk, move valuable items to safety."

Forecasters have said 2012 could become the wettest on record in the UK after predicting a wet and windy end to the year as flood-battered areas were warned they face renewed danger from storms.

According to the Met office just 1.8in (46mm) of rain is needed to fall before December 31 to make this year the wettest on record for the UK overall, with a new record already set for England with 43.1in (1,095.8mm) falling between January 1 and Boxing Day.

The UK as a whole had 50.8in (1,291.2mm) of rain from January 1 to December 26, with the wettest year on record for the UK currently 2000, when 52.6in (1,337.3mm) fell. Confirmation is expected next week, and would be all the more remarkable considering the drought status declared for parts of the country during the early part of the year.

MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said the entire country was set to be drenched by persistent rain sweeping in from the Atlantic coupled with winds of up to 85mph in the far north of Scotland.

The recent heavy rain, coupled with late-running engineering work and other problems, meant a miserable return to work for rail travellers yesterday.

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A man walks down a flooded road in Clifton Hampden in Oxfordshire

First Great Western said the main line in the South West, which has been closed since before Christmas because of flooding between Exeter St Davids and Tiverton, is expected to reopen tomorrow.

The Environment Agency currently has around 75 flood warnings and nearly 200 flood alerts in place across the country, with the Midlands, the South East and South West worst affected.

The Thames Barrier was raised yesterday morning to keep the high tide out of London and reduce the risk of flooding as water from days of downpours causes high levels further upstream.

An amber landslide warning was put in place for the South West by the British Geological Survey, who urged walkers to take care along coastal routes.

The stormy weather was being blamed for fires at a school and hotel within a few miles of each other in Dorset yesterday.

Lightning is believed to have started blazes at Lytchett Minster School and the derelict Cliff House Hotel in the Boscombe area of Bournemouth.

In a third incident, 20 sheep died in a barn fire at Stalbridge, near Shaftesbury, with lightning during storms in the county overnight again suspected as the trigger for the blaze.

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