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North Devon "not out of the woods yet" as Met Office issues severe weather warning

By e_glanfield  |  Posted: February 06, 2014

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Severe weather warnings are in place for North Devon until Saturday

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North Devon is in for another battering this week with forecasters issuing weather warnings for the next three days.

Heavy rain and gale force winds are once again forecast for Devon and Cornwall, prompting the Met Office to issue severe weather warnings until Saturday.

Forecasters warned “very strong winds and heavy rain” would return to the South West with gusts reaching up to 80mph at exposed coastal locations.

Heavy and persistent rain is due to set in today following gale force winds yesterday evening and overnight.

An amber-graded weather warning, which warns residents and motorists to ‘be prepared’, was in place for North Devon until 7pm yesterday, but the Met Office has downgraded that today to yellow, warning people to prepare for disruption due to flooding.

A chief forecaster at the Devon-based Met Office said: “Another area of low pressure will bring spells of heavy rain to southern England from Thursday afternoon to Friday morning, with 20-40 mm of rain falling widely.

"A further Atlantic frontal system will bring a band of rain quickly eastwards during Friday night and early Saturday, with the heaviest rain again likely to be across parts of southern England, followed in turn by heavy showers. Another 10-20 mm of rain and locally 30 mm will fall in the Amber area, leading to further flooding.

"Winds will also be a feature during Friday night and Saturday with severe gales possible around coasts in the southwest of England."

The wet and windy weather comes after high tides and strong winds saw coastal defences throughout North Devon overtopped over the weekend.

A community safety officer claimed North Devon is not out of the woods yet ahead of the fresh weather warnings.

Speaking at a meeting of North Devon Council’s Executive, Amanda Palmer of Safer North Devon, said communities responded well to the bad weather at the weekend.

“There was a high level of confidence that we were ready,” she said. Most of the damage suffered was from wave damage and not surface water or other flooding.”

She said communities had dealt with the weather very well.

But she added: “We are not out of the woods yet. We are asking communities to be aware.”

Chris Tubbs, Met Office deputy chief meteorologist, said the storm weather would last until at least Saturday.

He said: "Heavy rain and gales sweeping in from the west for Wednesday brings the risk of further flooding in some areas and possible travel disruption.

"There is now increased confidence that much of the southern half of Britain will see further heavy rain on Thursday evening and night, and that will be quickly followed by another storm early Saturday."

Will Stephens, RNLI coastal safety staff officer, urged people to take extra care near the coast.

He said: "With more stormy weather forecast, we're asking people to take extra care if they're going down to the coast. Rough seas and extreme weather might look exciting, but getting too close can be risky. So respect the water and, in particular, avoid exposed places where big waves could sweep you off your feet."

John Curtin, head of incident management at the Environment Agency, said teams were working around the clock to help flooded communities.

He said: "Following the wettest January on record in some places we are now set to experience successive bands of heavy rainfall lasting into the weekend.

"With further river and coastal flooding expected this week we have teams working around the clock to protect homes and communities, and over 117,000 homes have been protected over the past three days.

"Strong winds and waves could be dangerous, and we would urge people to stay away from coastal paths and promenades, and not to drive through floodwater.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service is also warning people to be aware of potential further flooding across the region.

The service is especially urging motorists to heed warnings not to drive through floodwater, as it could put themselves and others at risk.

Area manager Alex Hanson said: “It is impossible to tell how deep water is or the condition of the ground beneath. Your vehicle may be swept away or become stranded. Vehicles can float away in just two feet of water.

“If you do see floodwater on the road, do not attempt to drive through it; instead try to find an alternative route. If a road has been closed, it is for the safety of the public and closure signs should be respected.”

Met Office weather warnings:

Thursday:

A severe warning of heavy rain is in place from 5pm until 8am the following morning. It warns of heavy and persistent rain with rainfall totals of up to 30mm.

Friday:

The severe weather warning of rain remains in place until 8am. The Met Office warns the public should be aware that further disruption due to flooding may occur.

Saturday:

A new weather warning of heavy rain is in place for Saturday from just after midnight until 9am. It warns of “yet another rapidly deepening area of low pressure”, which will approach the South West later on Friday. Rainfall totals could reach between 40-50mm.

Click here to view a four-day or one-day forecast for North Devon. Alternatively visit www.northdevonjournal.co.uk/weather

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