UK weather: Britain set for heavy downpours as country breaks up for Christmas

Britain will be hit by heavy downpours as schools and offices close for the Christmas holidays today.

Eastern and northern parts of England and Wales will be lashed by heavy rain moving in from the west in the early hours of Friday.

The Met Office says today will start chilly and wet for the north of England and Scotland with some frost in the far northwest.

Outbreaks of rain should be expected across Northern England, Northern Ireland and northern Wales – but the south should remain relatively dry.

The soggy weather will add to transport woes as experts warn of disruption caused by millions of additional journeys on Britain’s roads.

Alex Deacon from the Met Office today says Friday evening will be even wetter, with "heavy rain moving in and that wet and increasingly windy weather will spread across parts of England and Wales.

“The winds will really start whip up so if you’re travelling that will be very unpleasant.”

Conditions will improve on Saturday and it will be drier throughout – but showers in the north will persist for some.

Weather experts issued 24 flood alerts yesterday as heavy rain lefts streams swollen and the ground saturated.

Wet and windy weather will persist into the weekend, the Met Office says, as millions travel by car, rail or air to visit family over the holiday, or finish their Christmas shopping.

It’s been dubbed "Frantic Friday" because schools break up that day and millions of Britons will begin their Christmas getaways.

The AA is expecting 19 million vehicles on the roads, and the RAC is predicting the most congested getaway rush for years.

Delays of up to three hours may be observed on one section of the northbound M6 today (Junction 15 to Junction 25).

The RAC warned of tailbacks of over 1.5 hours on the southbound M40 between the M42 in Warwickshire and Junction 8A at Oxford.

The number of journeys is expected to peak on Boxing Day, with 6.8 million leisure trips expected.

A further 4.4 million trips are expected on December 27, but luckily this won’t coincide with commuter traffic as most offices and schools remain closed.

The RAC said it was important for motorists to prepare their cars for long journeys in order to avoid nightmare breakdowns on busy traffic.

Mark Souster said: “It’s vitally important every driver planning a trip gives their car a once over to make sure it’s up to the job, as a single breakdown can bring some roads to a grinding halt, slowing down the Christmas getaway for all of us."

“A few moments spent checking things like fuel, oil, coolant and screenwash levels and the condition and pressure of tyres could make the difference between a stress-free journey and one plagued by a breakdown.”

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