25/04/2012 09:04 BST | Updated 25/04/2012 11:22 BST

Flood Warning Issued For South England As Drought Continues Across UK

Flood warnings have been issued across southern England as heavy rain continues to deluge the region and the west of Scotland.

The Environment Agency has issued eight flood warnings in the South West, an area currently in drought.

It is urging people living in those eight regions to take "immediate action" as the rivers may break their banks over the coming hours.

Rivers Coley, Upper and Lower Axe, Char, Upper and Lower Otter, Taw and Wriggle are the waterways named by the agency.

It has also announced 22 new alerts across the Southwest region, suggesting that further flooding may be possible.

One woman motorist in Essex became trapped in her car earlier this week after driving through a ford which proved deeper than it appeared. Although the fire service came to her rescue, she said she "thought she was going to die".

Residents may be frustrated by apparently contradictory alerts, as they have recently also been declared in drought. Other parts of the country currently experiencing heavy rain are also under a hosepipe ban.

However Ciaran Nelson from Anglian Water told the BBC that though the current rain was "useful" it was important to put April's downpours in perspective. He said:

"We've had the driest eighteen months in a century, and it is going to take us more than a few wet weeks to get us out of where we would like to be at this time of year.

"The main issue is simply that it hasn't rained, we have had two dry winters, the period of the year when we really need rain to recharge the rivers, the reservoirs that we rely on for our drinking water."

In a forecast that will please farmers but could mean misery for the rest of Britain, further heavy rain has been predicted across the South, with weather warnings issued across Wales, the west midlands, the south of England, and Aberdeenshire.

Persistent rain will affect much of eastern Scotland and north eastern England on Thursday, with up to 40mm expected over 24 hours.

The unsettled weather is likely to continue, although the weekend is looking drier, according to the Met Office. May, however, is predicted to be the coldest for 100 years.

Dismal spring weather has prompted a rush of overseas holiday bookings by Britons, reports Virgin Atlantic.

The airline said its bookings had soared by 37% compared with this time last year.

And internet searches and bookings for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee bank holiday week at the beginning of June have also increased markedly, said

Virgin Atlantic spokesman Greg Dawson said: "Britain's bad weather has created a flood of passengers eager to fly to sun-soaked destinations such as Barbados, St Lucia and Antigua." said holidaymakers were taking advantage of the fact that this year there was an extra bank holiday - Tuesday 5 June to mark the jubilee celebrations.

The company said Majorca was the number one holiday destination for the jubilee holiday week with bookings up 60% year on year.

Other popular destinations included Florida, the Portuguese Algarve and Turkey which were all up by more than 55%.

Matt Hall, deputy managing director at, said: "This week we've seen a real surge in searches and bookings for the extended bank holiday week."