Flooding Fears As Weekend Thaw To Follow Final Band Of Snow Across UK


Britain prepared for the cold spell to end with a final fall of heavy snow later on Friday, ahead of flooding fears over the weekend.

The last of the current wintry weather was expected with heavy rain over Ireland due to turn to snow as it moves eastwards.

The worst was expected in Scotland, northern England, the Midlands and the east, where up to seven inches of snow was predicted over high ground.

Weather experts warned of the risk of flooding on Saturday, as heavy rain moves in and rising temperatures spark a rapid thaw of the built-up snow and ice.

Temperatures will steadily rise from tomorrow to an average of 4C before reaching more than 10C in the south on Sunday followed by wet and windy weather next week.

Julian Mayes, a senior forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "There is already snow over most of Scotland, and rain currently over Northern Ireland and Ireland is moving east. It is expected that places in Wales and western England will have a fall of heavy snow by evening, and that's going to keep moving eastwards.

"It is anticipated that quite a large part of Scotland, northern England and possibly the north Midlands will have more than 10cm (4in) of snow by morning.

"If anyone is driving this evening, conditions are going to be challenging, it will be falling quickly.

"In the early hours, the temperature is expected to dip further, below zero, creating an ice risk in the morning.

"Temperatures will start to go up tomorrow, and then we will have unsettled, windy weather.

"There will be a risk of flooding. It's not just the melting snow, but the fact we are back in significant rainfall for the first time in some weeks."

Heavy snow is set to sweep Britain on Friday

It is mainly areas north of the M4 that are expected to have significant snowfall.

The death toll during the recent cold snap, which is in double figures, is thought to have risen further as it was feared a man in his 30s or 40s might have frozen to death after going missing in woodland.

His body was found last night after four friends went into Newmarket police station in Suffolk reporting that he had not been seen for four days. The men had been searching for him and found him dead in a wooded area.

The death is being treated as unexplained but one theory is he died in the freezing temperatures.

A father died yesterday when his car skidded into a river just before his wife's vehicle also plunged into the icy water.

BBC employee David Cox, 42, was taking his 11-year-old daughter Tess to school when their Toyota Aygo left the path and crashed into the River Wye in Derbyshire.

Moments behind them in a separate car, a Toyota Rav 4, was his wife Ruth, 39, and son Ioan, nine.

Mrs Cox also lost control as she drove along the bridlepath near the Monsal Trail, north of the A6.

The children and their mother managed to get out of the cars and safely to shore but Mr Cox was unable to escape.

Neighbours tried to save him but it is believed he was trapped for around 40 minutes. He died in hospital,

Other casualties of the cold spell include postman John Bircham, 57, who collapsed soon after he was towed out of a snowdrift in Dulverton, Somerset, on Saturday, and Bernadette Lee, 25, who was found collapsed in the snow in Deal, Kent, on Sunday following a night out.

The AA said it had expected a busy day today.

Darron Burness, head of special operations, said: "Unfortunately, this cold snap followed the second wettest year on record so, quite understandably, the roads are showing some ill-effects with a 'pothole storm' on the horizon.

"As the snow melts, the temptation is to drive that bit faster but you need to keep a look out for potholes and other hazards like flooding. Keep your speed down - particularly in rural areas where potholes are more likely - and take extra care in the rain as you don't know whether it's a puddle or pothole up ahead.

"We urge drivers to do a good deed and report potholes so councils can fix them and others don't hit them - there are local authority helplines and online reporting systems available for this.

"Over the weekend, ice will continue to be a risk in places, particularly on sheltered stretches and higher ground, and snow melt is likely to cause some localised flooding so take care and stay out of flood water."

By the end of the day, the AA expects to attend more than 13,000 breakdowns, compared with around 9,500 on an average Friday.

A spokesman said breakdowns were coming in at more than 1,000 an hour and the busiest areas were South Wales, parts of the West Country and London.

The Environment Agency warned there is a risk of surface water and river flooding this weekend across England and Wales, particularly in the Midlands and north east England.

A spokesman said: "Emergency teams from the Environment Agency will be out in force throughout the weekend to shore up defences, monitor river levels and clear blockages from watercourses.

"Those in areas at risk should check the Environment Agency website for the latest information - - and sign up for free flood warnings on the Environment Agency's website or by calling the Environment Agency Flood Line on 0845 988 1188."

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