Somerset flood fears increase as more torrential rain and 70mph gusts forecast
After a day of flooding misery today, Somerset is being warned to brace itself for more of the same tomorrow afternoon.
The Met Office has upgraded its severe weather warning for the county to an amber alert, which is in place from 2pm until midnight tomorrow.
The amber alert, which is the forecaster's second most severe weather warning, warns people to be prepared for flooding.
The county could also be battered by 70mph winds.
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"A spell of very wet and very windy weather is expected to move west to east across many parts of the UK during Thursday," said the Met Office.
"Coming so soon after the heavy rain which fell in many places on Wednesday, this is likely to provoke further issues with flooding.
"Additionally, winds will gust to 50 to 60mph in many places, and even 70mph in some exposed western areas.
"In view of the wind and rain combination, the public should be prepared for transport disruption."
More than a dozen major roads in Somerset were closed today, including the A38, A357, A358 and A39.
Eye witnesses reported seeing “rivers” of rainwater pouring off fields into already full drainage ditches, inundating roads.
“In these conditions, you sometimes just have to stand back and say there is little more you can do," said Somerset County Council cabinet member Harvey Siggs.
"We’ve had nearly 30mm of rain falling in just a few hours and the volume of water has been too much for some rural drainage systems to cope with.
“The fields and moors are already saturated, the groundwater level is unusually high and then we get a deluge overnight, it’s a real double or even a triple whammy.”
Somerset County Council officers are continuing to liaise with other local authorities, police, fire and voluntary groups to ensure they are as prepared as possible for any further rain.
“I’d like to thank in particular voluntary groups who have already come forward to help such as Wessex 4x4, we really value their contributions,” said council leader John Osman.
"Although the flooding was caused directly by the volume of rainwater falling in a short time, Somerset County Council has increased its road gangs to clear drains of autumn leaves."
“We’re doing everything we can to get this rainwater draining away,” added Cllr Siggs. “I think the public driving into work during the day and seeing the amount of water running off the fields can understand that sometimes there are issues you just can’t easily resolve.”
Click here for the latest Somerset weather forecast.
For the latest information on flood warnings and alerts in the region, click on the Environment Agency panel below.
SOMERSET FLOODS (21/11/2012) - VIDEO AND PICTURES