01/01/2014 12:10 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 10:52 GMT

Storms Bring Flooding Misery As Police Search For Missing People

UK weather
UK weather

A man was swept out to sea while celebrating the new year on the beach.

The 27-year-old is feared dead after going missing in Cornwall, the day after a woman died in the surf in North Devon.

Emergency services are searching for people missing in ferocious weather as the first storms of 2014 brought flooding misery to home-owners.

Police across the country are searching for several people who have not been seen since last night.

Visitors to coastal areas have been warned to stay out of the sea, while those inland have been braced for localised flooding.

The Environment Agency put out more than 200 weather warnings today, covering every region of England and Wales.

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There are dozens of flood warnings in place, mostly in the South West of England, while forecasters have predicted strong winds, heavy rain and further flooding in the coming days.

Craig Woolhouse, the Environment Agency's head of flood incident management, said: "Strong winds and large waves along the west and south coasts of England are forecast between Friday and Sunday, coinciding with high tides.

"Impacts could include flooding affecting some coastal properties and communities.

"Coastal paths and promenades could be highly dangerous as there is an increased risk of being swept out to sea.

People are warned to stay away from the shoreline.

"The Environment Agency is monitoring the situation closely, working alongside partners including the Met Office and local authorities. Environment Agency teams are out on the ground making sure that flood defences are in good working order, monitoring sea levels and preparing to issue flood alerts and warnings."

Updates are available on the Environment Agency website and through @EnvAgency and #floodaware on Twitter.

Matt Dobson, a senior forecaster with MeteoGroup, said there would be a brief respite tomorrow - but warned that further heavy rain and gale-force winds are on the way.

He said: "Tomorrow will be fairly pleasant in many places, with sunshine across the country and only a few showers across the west and south coast of England.

"But it won't last - from Thursday night into Friday there will be more heavy rain everywhere.

"Another deep area of very low pressure is coming in from the Atlantic, which will hit Northern Ireland and Scotland,

and there will be severe gales in places.

"Over the last couple of weeks we have seen a few heavy rainfall events across the country and the ground will be saturated in places.

"More rain and strong winds are on the way, so river levels are going to stay very high."

Devon and Cornwall Police, together with the Coastguard, have appealed for people not to enter the sea during the bad weather.

It comes after a woman drowned in Croyde, north Devon, yesterday, while a search is under way for a 27-year-old man who was paddling in the sea at Loe Bar, near Porthleven in Cornwall, when he was suddenly swept off his feet by a large wave in the early hours of today.

A police spokesman said: "There are people who enjoy swimming in all weathers as well as those who may under-estimate the danger a rough sea can pose.

"During the current bad weather, we would appeal to everyone to use common sense and not put themselves in unnecessary danger.

"Although we have not had any recent instances, there have been occasions when large waves have washed people and animals into the water resulting in deaths."