Dec 31 2012 By Cheryl Mullin
RAIN swept across south western parts of Britain today, bringing a sodden end to what is likely to be one of the wettest years on record.
Some upland places in south Wales and south west England saw nearly an inch of rain (20 to 25mm) in the six hours from 6am, said Julian Mayes, a senior forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association.
“That’s going to be making rivers rise temporarily at least, and causing more concern,” he said.
There was heavy rain overnight in many areas – Shap in Cumbria had 52mm (two inches) and Capel Curig in Snowdonia 48mm in the 12 hours between 6pm yesterday and 6am today.
“It was one of those nights when the rain gets a lot heavier over the hills, partly because it was windy,” Mr Mayes said.
The renewed downpours came with much of England, Scotland and Wales on flood alert.
The Environment Agency has 211 flood alerts and 90 flood warnings in place in areas where the ground is already saturated and rivers and groundwater levels are still high.
They follow hundreds of other alerts issued this month, as several days’ worth of rain fell in a few hours at its worst, contributing to a year of bad weather which has left the UK on the brink of its wettest since records began in 1910.
The start of 2013 is expected to bring some much desired respite from the rain.
“This latest band is moving south east, and should clear London by about 9pm, giving hope that it may be dry for the New Year celebrations, though turning colder,” Mr Mayes said.
This month hundreds of homes have been evacuated and weary commuters and travellers forced to find alternative routes or abandon their plans altogether as sections of Britain's transport network ground to a halt.
Environment Agency teams are continuing to monitor river levels, clear river channels and ensure flood defences are working properly, and have erected mobile flood barriers in cities and towns such as Oxford, Worcester, Shrewsbury and Bewdley.
Larger rivers such as the Thames, Severn and Wye are likely to remain high for several days.
A spokeswoman warned that there is a continued risk of localised flooding over the next few days, even though conditions are set to improve as more settled weather arrives to mark the start of 2013.