29/04/2012 11:06 BST | Updated 28/06/2012 06:12 BST

UK Weather: Rain And Wind Batters Southern Britain As Flood Warnings Issued

Large parts of the UK were hit with heavy downpours on Sunday as flood warnings were issued in many regions.

Forecasters said trees could be brought down and already waterlogged areas could be flooded as up to 40mm of rain is predicted to fall in places.

The latest downpours come at the end of a particularly wet week for England and Wales, in which 42mm (1.7in) of rain fell in the South East and 55mm (2.2in) in the South West, which has now had 166% of the average rainfall for April.

More than 110 flood alerts were issued by the Environment Agency.

The EA warned of the possibility of flooding across parts of the South West, South East and Midlands, East of England and Wales.

A spokeswoman said: "The Environment Agency is closely monitoring the forecast and rainfall particularly in Worcestershire, as the river levels are already higher than normal in the rivers Severn, Teme and Avon.

"Environment Agency officers are out monitoring river levels, checking defences and clearing any potential blockages, such as fallen branches and debris, to reduce the risk of flooding.

"Residents who live near rivers like the Severn should register for the Environment Agency's free flood warnings service and everyone can keep up to date by checking our website, calling our Floodline on 0845 988 1188 and looking out for updates on our Facebook and Twitter pages."

Meanwhile in York one pub affected by flooding refused to close, despite the deep water of the River Ouse.

The Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said it had been "busy" throughout the night across both counties with numerous calls reporting trees and electrical cables either down in the road or effecting peoples properties.

In Essex eight people were rescued after flood water trapped them inside their cars, the BBC reported.

More than 10 flights were cancelled from Heathrow Terminal 5 because of the weather, and in Wales felled trees blocked one line of the busy M4 motorway.

Over the last 24 hours police in Gloucestershire have received more than 60 reports of trees down and localised flooding due to the high winds and heavy rain.

Officers are currently assisting with a large tree that has come down on the A417 near Cirencester which is partially blocking the road, the force said.

High winds across Devon have resulted in treacherous driving conditions with surface water and a large green roadsign, amongst other debris, blown onto the carriageway of the A38 at Chudleigh Knighton.

Dorset has also been affected by high winds and lashing rain across the county affecting the already waterlogged flood plains.

And it's not only people being affected by the bad weather, with Dartmoor Zoo closing today "for the reasons of safety and animal welfare".

A spokesman added its "animals will be in their houses for the duration" of the bad weather.

Essex Police said a section of the A12 near Chelmsford was closed amid concerns that two crashes this morning were due to flooding.

Both happened on the southbound carriageway near Junction 16, the force said.

The first was just before 4am when a grey Honda CRV and a silver BMW were involved in a collision. Nobody was injured and the road was closed for several hours while the cars were recovered and barriers repairs. Then just after 8am a grey Peugeot 307 went out of control and hit the central reservation.

Many of the areas at risk of floods are currently in a state of drought, which is gripping the South East, East Anglia, the Midlands, the South West and south and east Yorkshire after two unusually dry winters in a row.

In its latest weekly drought briefing, the Environment Agency said all regions had now received above average rainfall for April, boosting river levels and providing relief for farmers, gardeners and wildlife in drought areas.

But groundwater levels remained low and the rain was not yet making a difference to the drought conditions, the agency warned.

And soil affected by prolonged dry weather is increasing the risk of flash floods as heavy rain quickly runs off hard, compacted ground.

Five flood warnings were in place today for the North East, with properties at risk from rising water levels in a number of rivers including the Ouse in York. Householders were urged to take action to protect their homes.

Tom Tobler, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "Gusts of 50 to 60mph are sweeping across South West England, central England and Wales, which will see the worst of the windy weather.

"The wind will then spread north-westwards throughout the day with other areas seeing gusts of up to 40mph.

"There is potential for it to cause some damage. The South East will experience heavy rain this morning, but it will then ease off, with the heaviest rain in the South West, central England and Wales. It will then spread northwards."

Tuesday will also see another band of heavy rain across Wales, the Midlands, the South East and East Anglia, but the rain will be more showery in the South West.