‘Not good news’ for flooded communities as Storm Jorge looms

The Canary

“It’s not good news” for flood-hit communities, forecasters say, as Storm Jorge will bring further heavy rain and strong winds across the UK over the weekend.

Parts of Wales and northern England could see between 50 to 80mm of rain on Friday as the storm hits the UK, the Met Office warned.

Strong winds are forecast for much of England, Wales and Northern Ireland on Saturday, reaching 70mph in coastal areas and up to 60mph inland.

When asked about the weekend’s weather prospects, Met Office forecaster Emma Salter said: “It’s not good news I’m afraid, given all the recent rainfall we’ve had.”

She described Friday as “another wet and breezy day”.

“There will be rain first thing in the South West and Wales, with a fairly dry start for most other places,” she added.

“That rain in the far South West will move eastwards and it will be raining pretty much everywhere by lunchtime.”

Winter weather Feb 27th 2020
The sun sets over a flooded field near Upton-upon-Severn, Worcestershire, as the town suffers continued flooding (PA)

The Met Office’s chief meteorologist, Paul Gundersen, said further flooding is possible with rain forecast to fall on already saturated ground.

Flooding along parts of the River Severn, which has reached close to its highest levels in some areas, is likely until at least Sunday, the Environment Agency said.

A severe “danger to life” flood warning covering the river at the Wharfage in Ironbridge, Shropshire, remains in place on Thursday, while 82 flood warnings and 125 flood alerts have been issued.

Rising waters pushed back the town’s temporary flood barriers towards a pub and other businesses, sparking fears that the defences could be fully breached.

Speaking in Ironbridge on Thursday, environment secretary George Eustice said the reason for his delay in visiting the town was to allow for the emergency services to “deal with the immediate impacts”.

Asked why prime minister Boris Johnson was yet to visit, the Conservative MP said: “When he appointed me two weeks ago he made it clear he wanted me to lead on this.

“I have kept him regularly informed with what is happening.”

Residents in the Worcestershire town of Bewdley were forced to evacuate earlier after the river spilled over barriers at Beales Corner.

And in East Yorkshire, residents were being evacuated from the village of East Cowick after the River Aire broke its banks.

This month is already the second wettest February on record, with the total average rainfall from February 1 to 25 measuring 179.3mm, the Met Office said.

The figure to beat is 193.4mm, which was set in February 1990.

Gundersen said: “This weekend we’ll see another named Storm bring strong winds to parts of the UK with several wind and rain warnings in place.

“We have issued rain warnings for parts of Wales and northern England, where rain will be heaviest and we could see 60-80mm possible over the highest ground.”

The Republic of Ireland is expected to face the strongest and most damaging winds, Gunderson said.

The storm will be followed by snow over the hills and mountains in the north of the UK and rail and hail in the south. Winds are forecast to ease slightly on Sunday.

Winter weather Feb 27th 2020
Members of the fire brigade in boats wade through floodwater in Snaith, East Yorkshire, where locals have criticised the lack of help they have received from the authorities (PA)

Yellow weather warnings for rain are in place for the North West and South West of England, parts of Wales and Northern Ireland between midday on Friday and 9am on Saturday.

The Met Office has also issued a yellow wind warning for a 24-hour period from midday on Saturday covering most of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and south-west Scotland.

On Thursday, Johnson declined to say whether he would visit those made homeless by recent flooding.

Speaking in central London, he instead focused on how the “massive issue” of flooding “presents an opportunity” for job creation.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has previously accused Johnson of being a “part-time prime minister” due to his absence from affected areas.

Johnson said on Thursday: “There’s a massive issue about flood defences, and we have put £2.6 billion in and we will be investing another £4 billion.

“This is something that is absolutely critical for our country to tackle.”

England has received over 200% of its average February rainfall, according to the Environment Agency, with some areas experiencing a month’s worth of rain in 24 hours.

Toby Willison, executive director of operations at the Environment Agency, said: “Our operational teams continue to work night and day to protect communities alongside the River Severn, which is experiencing record levels.

“River levels will remain exceptionally high on the Severn for some time and communities, in particular Shrewsbury, Bewdley, Bridgnorth and Ironbridge, should prepare for potentially ongoing severe flooding.”

Storm Jorge is the fifth storm to hit the UK since December 6 last year and third in February,

Met Office forecaster Craig Snell said it was “not uncommon” to see so many storms in such a short period of time.

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