July 10, 2008

Floods Alert As Forecasters Predict Bumper Rain Deluge

By Rosa Silverman

Heavy rainfall across the country sparked flood warnings yesterday, as forecasters predict up to 1.8 inches of rain.

Parts of the Midlands, the South West and south east Wales are expected to suffer the heaviest rainfall, and flood warnings were also issued in Devon.

The Environment Agency warned that residents living near the Rivers Tamar, Torridge and Walden faced likely flooding of their homes and businesses.

Other parts of south west England and the Thames region have been put on flood watch and warned to expect flooding of low-lying land and roads.

An Environment Agency spokesman said: "We advise people in these areas to be very aware of the weather around you. Watch the news and weather forecasts, make sure your phone is charged and be prepared."

Almost an inch of rain fell overnight on Tuesday in Devon and Cornwall, a third of what the region would expect in a month, Motoring organisation theAAadvised drivers to expect hazardous driving conditions and only go as fast as conditions allow.

By mid-afternoon yesterday it had already attended 28 per cent more breakdowns than normal - mostly weatherrelated home starts - with the busiest regions being the Home Counties, London andWest Midlands.

It said it expected to attend more than 12,000 breakdowns, compared with the usual 9,500, by the end of the day. MeteoGroup UK, the weather division of the Press Association, said the rain would be slowly working its way northwards during the day.

Scotland meanwhile is set to escape the downpours until last night, when heavy rain is expected to edge into southern Scotland and linger until today.

England andWales could see some reprieve today however.

"England and Wales should see sunshine and showers tomorrow," said MeteoGroup forecaster Rob Hutchinson yesterday. "There will be bright and sunny intervals but with showers around. Northern England and Northern Ireland might be thundery but south east England should get a dry day."

But there is no promise of summer weather around the corner, as the rain is expected to continue tomorrow, followed by a changeable weekend and more showers to break up the sunny spells next week.

The highest rainfall recorded today was in southern Wales, where 0.9 inches (23mm) of rain fell between 6am and 12pm, MeteoGroup said.

Devon had 0.6 inches (16mm) of rainfall over the same period. People are urged to check the Environment Agency's website - www.environment-agency.gov.uk - for updates if they believe they are at risk.

The Prince ofWales yesterday warned there is no chance of achieving climate change goals unless the problem of deforestation is addressed.

Charles sat in on a panel discussion at Marlborough House in central London to discuss the impact climate change is having on vulnerable groups in the Commonwealth and how their concerns need to be given a voice.

In a closing statement, Charles said: "It's about time we start to work in harmony with nature. We are pushing her into a corner and it is one of the reasons we are facing such a challenge.

"One of the simplest and easiest and cheapest ways to buy time is to sort out the problem of deforestation.

"There is no chance of us reaching millennium goals if we do not do something about deforestation."

Dr Mark Collins, director of the Commonwealth Foundation, also warned that millions of people could become environmental refugees if the issue is not tackled. Prior to the climate change discussion, Charles met with students, alumni and staff from Prospect Burma, an educational trust which funds the training of young Burmese students.

Residents living near the rivers Tamar, Torridge and Walden face likely flooding of their homes and businesses

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