Storm Christoph puts thousands of homes on flood alert

Storm Christoph unleashes havoc: Drivers are rescued from cars as streets turn into rivers while Army is put on standby with thousands of homes on flood alert with two months’ of rain set to fall in 36 hours

  • Midlands and Northern England could see homes and businesses flooding, with a ‘danger to life’ alert issued  
  • The rest of England and Wales under yellow weather warning until tomorrow, with snow and ice in Scotland
  • Major incident has been declared in Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire ahead of major downpours  
  • Honister Pass, Cumbria, saw 77mm of rainfall between 12am and 6pm yesterday as Storm Christoph hit UK 

Storm Christoph unleashed chaos on Britain’s roads and railways today as two months’ of rain began to bucket down within just 36 hours. 

Torrential rainfall led the Met Office to issue an amber weather warning and raise the possibility of disruption to water, gas and electricity supplies.   

The alert warns there is a danger to life around fast-flowing water, leading many to shore up their homes with sandbags and hunker down in anticipation of flooding.  

The Army has been put on standby and evacuation plans were being drawn up for the most at-risk areas, but officials stressed it remains a precaution at this stage. 

Storm Christoph was already wreaking havoc on the roads early this morning, with high winds bringing an oak tree crashing down on a driver in Thurston, Suffolk. 

And in County Durham, rescue teams worked throughout the night to save a Morrisons delivery van that became stuck on a flooded road.

The most serious weather warnings for have been issued in the Midlands and parts of northern England.  

A Cobra meeting yesterday discussed the possibility of using soldiers to respond to flood alerts across the country, with the likes of Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire declaring major incidents. 

COUNTY DURHAM Fire crews from across County Durham rescued a motorist whose vehicle went into the water at Westgate last night

NORFOLK: Flooding at the highest level for the past ten years on Wednesday morning in Welney on the Norfolk-Cambridgeshire border

YORK: The River Ouse, which broke its banks on Monday, has been flooded York city centre

DEVON: Waves crash over the sea wall where a train steams along the Dawlish seafront in Devon

LEICESTERSHIRE: Flooding underneath the A46 at Six Hills Lane in Leicestershire, as Storm Christoph is set to bring widespread flooding, gales and snow to parts of the UK

SUFFOLK: Storm Christoph was already wreaking havoc on the roads this morning, with high winds bringing an oak tree crashing down on a driver in Thurston, Suffolk 

The vehicle entered the water at Westgate in County Durham last night, prompting a difficult rescue for fire crews

The Morrisons truck was rescued and this morning made its way through the waters

A Ministry of Defence source told The Telegraph soldiers were most likely to be deployed today, if at all, in response to disruption across the country. 

The Government peppered a map of the UK with flood warnings, issuing 49 flood warnings and 175 less serious flood alerts.  

Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency, told MPs yesterday that its teams were out closing flood barriers and clearing drains.

He added: ‘There are no plans right now to evacuate, but that might be necessary and preparations are being made by the relevant agencies as a precaution.’      

The Prime Minister’s spokesman told reporters on Tuesday afternoon: ‘The important message whilst the alerts are in place is that we urge everybody to follow the Environment Agency’s advice and check their flood risk and sign up to alerts.’ 

The severity of the storm was laid bare by the Met Office, which warned that Britain was set to be besieged by the elements this week.

Spokesman Oli Claydon described the situation as ‘a timeline of different hazards as we go through the week but the first hazard is certainly of rain and that’s reflected in the warnings at the moment’. 

He explained: ‘As we go through the week and the low pressure that is bringing these fronts of rainfall that are persistent and heavy over the next few days … as that low pressure moves east and out into the North Sea, the winds will become a thing really later in the week.

‘Also as the low pressure moves away it pulls down a north-westerly airflow which brings much colder air across the UK again which then presents a further risk of snow.’

A flooded train line in Walsden, Yorks, this morning, as the storm caused chaos on the nation’s transport infrastructure

The Government peppered a map of the UK with flood warnings, issuing 49 flood warnings and 175 less serious flood alerts

Westgate ford, in Weardale, County Durham, this morning after emergency services had to rescue a Morrisons delivery van driver when his vehicle got into difficulties while trying to cross

Naburn Lock Caravan Park was hit by on Tuesday. With more downpours predicted today South Yorkshire has declared a major incident, with the army on stand-by to assist in the worst-affected areas 

Flood wardens are inspecting the waters of the River Calder in North Yorkshire this morning as Britain braces for another day of downpours from Storm Christoph

The River Ouse in York city centre has broken its banks this morning as Storm Christoph begins to hit the UK

Sand bags placed against a door of a property in Hebden Bridge in the Upper Calder Valley in West Yorkshire, in anticipation of Storm Christoph

Floods hit York yesterday as Britain prepares for more downpours today, with the army on standby to assist worse-hit areas 

Weather warnings for rain blanket England and Wales, with the Midlands and parts of the North set to be worse-hit. Snow and ice alerts are also in place for Scotland

Snow covered Drummond Castle Gardens, Perthshire as Storm Christoph hits the UK

Mr Claydon also said: ‘It’s not going to be a short burst of bad weather like you may think of in terms of storms in the past where it quickly blows through overnight.

‘It’s really persistent heavy rain, the rain really is going to be persistent, just continuing all the way through today and tomorrow and into Thursday, it’s really just the prolonged accumulation of rainfall rather than a short come and gone weather event,’ he said. 

Calderdale Council in West Yorkshire said flood sirens in the village of Walsden in the west of the county had been activated, telling residents to turn off their utilities.

The council’s chief executive Robin Tuddenham later said no further activation of sirens was expected overnight as river levels were high but stable.

A major incident was also declared in Greater Manchester on Tuesday.

Assistant Chief Constable Nick Bailey, chairman of the GM Strategic Co-ordination Group for Storm Christoph, said: ‘Whilst we appreciate that everyone has been told to stay home due to the coronavirus pandemic, we want to make it clear that should members of the public need to evacuate to protect themselves due to flooding then that is the priority and you should follow your local authority’s advice regarding evacuation.’

Floodwaters have already risen in parts of the country, with a motorist pictured stranded in Leicester, and workmen in York prepared flood defences on Tuesday morning near the city’s River Ouse.

A major incident had already been declared in South Yorkshire in anticipation of flooding that could arrive in the coming days.

Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones tweeted on Monday evening: ‘Key risk areas have been inspected over the past 36 hours, sand-bags have been handed out in flood-risk areas & will continue over the next 24 hours.’

Flood defence work got underway yesterday to protect homes should the River Ouse in York burst its banks, with up to 200m of set to fall in higher parts of the country 

Motorists make their way through floodwater on Derby Road in Hathern, Leicestershire, on Tuesday afternoon

Gardens in Hemingford in Cambridgeshire starting to flood after the River Great Ouse burst its banks

On Tuesday, North Yorkshire Police and North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service warned drivers not to take risks ahead of the expected weather.

A spokesperson said: ‘Just 60cm of standing water and 30cm of flowing water can be enough to float/move your vehicle. So please don’t take the risk!’

North Yorkshire County Council said more than 15,000 sandbags are at the ready around the county.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has advised people to check with councils to keep up to date with advice as the storm moves through.

The LGA said in a statement: ‘They will share flood warnings and other relevant information so people should make sure they regularly check their council’s website and social media and follow their advice.’

Floodwaters have already risen in parts of the country, with a motorist pictured stranded in Leicester, and workmen in York preparing flood defences on Tuesday morning near the city’s River Ouse.

Tuesday also saw disruption to transport, with Network Rail reporting delays and some line closures in the North West in the evening.

Parts of Cumbria saw up to 80mm of rainfall yesterday, with roads flooded, including the A595 (pictured), and more rain set to come 

The storm has caused concern for people living in areas devastated by the floods at the end of 2019, who say they are preparing for the worst to happen again.

However, residents of Fishlake, South Yorkshire – which was cut off by the floodwaters just over a year ago, said they are much better prepared this time with many having sandbags dropped outside their properties on Tuesday.

As of 5am, the Environment Agency has issued 37 flood warnings and 167 less serious flood alerts across England.

A major incident was declared in both Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire ahead of the expected heavy rainfall.

North Yorkshire County Council said more than 15,000 sandbags were at the ready around the county.

Meanwhile, Public Health England (PHE) issued a cold weather alert from ‘first thing’ on Thursday until 9am on January 25 for the North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber.

The agency said the risk of flooding will amplify the public health risks of the severe cold weather. 

The last major flood evacuation was on Christmas Day when 1,300 had to leave their homes in Bedfordshire after the Great Ouse burst its banks.

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