Rain and 70mph gales batter UK towns and villages – as the Government says further flooding is inevitable
Britain is being battered again by storms and gale force winds – bringing flooding and travel chaos to many parts of the UK.
Stormy seas have caused problems in southwest coastal regions, and forecasters say there will be more violent weather over the next few days.
Inland, some villages on the Somerset Levels have been cut off, with residents in Muchelney, near Somerton, being supplied by boat.
In a statement to the Commons, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said seven people had died and 1,700 homes had been flooded in England.
He said one million homes have so far been protected by flood defences, but there was a likelihood of more flooding “for some time to come” in Dorset and Wiltshire.
As gusts of up to 70mph hit western coasts, people were urged to remain vigilant and stay away from coastal roads, promenades and jetties with 25ft-high waves crashing on to beaches.
There are fears the next high tides will bring further coastal flooding.
Sky’s Mike McCarthy, at the scene, said: “The worst predictions are being realised. We have seen waves bringing rocks and stones forward over the fencing.”
Student Millie Farmer, 19, said 12ft waves had crashed on to the promenade, ripping up paving slabs and leaving debris scattered on the front.
Southern Railway services between Horsham and Dorking in Surrey will be out of action until early February after a landslip in Ockley.
The Met Office has issued a yellow warning – meaning “be aware” – for heavy rain, along with hail and thunder, in southern and western parts of Scotland, across Northern Ireland, north Wales, northwest and northeast England and the South.
With the ground already saturated following recent storms, the Environment Agency (EA) has issued three severe flood warnings.
All are in Dorset – one is near Bournemouth, another at Preston Beach in Weymouth, and the third is in the Chiswell area of Chesil Beach.
There are also more than 300 flood warnings and alerts covering every region in England and Wales.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has 12 flood warnings and 11 flood alerts in place.
Sky News weather producer Christopher England said: “There will be widespread heavy showers this evening, but southern and eastern Britain will be mainly dry.
“Strong winds gusting to over 60mph in the South and West will bring a risk of further coastal flooding during high tide.”