News > Drought stricken areas of UK put on flood alert
Continuing heavy rains have forced the Environment Agency to issue eight new flood warnings in the drought stricken south-west England. It said Rivers Coley, Upper and Lower Axe, Char, Upper and Lower Otter, Taw and Wriggle were likely to break their banks in a week of heavy rain, and urged local residents to take immediate action to protect themselves and their property.
Lower level flood alerts were also issued in 22 areas of southern England, with weather warnings in Wales. Around 40mm (1.6in) of rain is forecast on Wednesday, but showers are predicted across the whole of the country for the rest of the week.
The warnings of bad weather and flooding come as parts of England suffer one of the worst droughts since records began. The South West, South East, Anglian region, Midlands and parts of Yorkshire have recently been given official drought status. Weather experts have said that while the rain is welcome for crops and plants across the country, after 18 months of dry weather only prolonged periods of rain will actually to replenish the ground water.
Trevor Bishop, head of water resources at the Environment Agency said that unfortunately it would take more than a week or two of rain to undo the effects of nearly two years of below-average rainfall. "The recent rain is good for farmers and gardeners, and the cool temperatures ease the pressure on fish and wildlife in rivers." Mr Bishop said ,but he went on to say, "With dry soils most of the rain will be soaked up - or, worse still, run off quickly if the surface is compacted, causing flash floods."
Commenting on rainfall across the country, a spokeswoman for the Met office said: "There is no real end in sight to this unsettled period of weather. "We'll certainly see showers across the country in the next seven days and longer forecasts suggest it will continue through much of May."