Severe weather warning as wettest January recorded

Further heavy rain, high winds, tidal surges and snow are expected to batter Britain through Friday and over the weekend, the Met Office has warned.

Forecasters predicted a further 30mm of rain could fall between Friday (31 January) and the early hours of Saturday (1 February) compounding the difficulties on areas already under water such as the Somerset Levels.

Speaking after a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee on 30 January, DEFRA secretary Owen Paterson said more rain and high tides meant there was also real risk of flooding in coastal areas.

Mr Paterson said: “I would urge people to pay close attention to Environment Agency warnings and advice.”

Coastal land in the south of England is particularly at risk but the Environment Agency added that parts of Gloucestershire, north-west England and the Yorkshire and Hull coasts would also be hit.

The Met Office has issued an amber warning – meaning be prepared – for heavy rain on the Somerset Levels, and yellow warnings – which mean be aware – for rain across much of the south of England, Northern Ireland and Wales on Friday.

It is also warning of high winds and rain for many western parts of the UK on Saturday and Sunday.

In Wales, Aberystwyth University has evacuated agricultural students from halls of residence on the town’s seafront after the tidal surge earlier in the month swamped the accommodation.

Meanwhile Scotland is facing heavy snow and winds of up to 80mph. The heavy snow was expected to fall from Friday morning (31 January) and track eastwards to cover a large area of Scotland by nightfall.

The warnings of the severe weather came after the Met Office released figures showing the first four weeks of January had already made the month the wettest since records began for parts of the UK.

With figures for the last three days of January still to be processed, the Met Office said a large area of southern England from East Devon to Kent and inland across parts of the Midlands saw twice the average rainfall for the month.

South-east and central southern England recorded 175.2mm of rain from 1-28 January. This beats the previous high of 158.2 mm set in January 1988 and is the wettest since records began in 1910.

In the West Country and south Wales, figures show 222.6mm of rain fell in the first four weeks of the year, making it the fifth wettest January on record in the regions. The wettest January on record for these areas was 1948 when 244.3 mm of rain fell.

For the UK as a whole, 164.6mm of rain fell, 35% above the long-term average.

But not all parts of the country are wetter than usual. The far north of Scotland has received just 85% of its long-term average.

And although it has been wet, the month has been mild. The UK mean temperature up to 28 January was 4.9C, 1.2C above average.

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