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Flash floods fear in drought areas
Richard Taylor looks at floodwater from the River Ouse as it rises to the steps of the Ship Inn at Acaster Malbis near York
Much of England and Wales are set to get a further soaking, with strong winds and heavy downpours expected to hit later.
Drought-afflicted areas are braced for the possibility of flash floods as up to 40mm of rain is forecasted to fall in places.
England and Wales have experienced the wettest week since December with forecasters seeing no sign of the rain letting up and supermarkets reporting soaring sales of wellies and umbrellas in the face of the deluge.
The Environment Agency has warned of the possibility of localised flooding across parts of the South West, South East and Midlands, East of England and Wales on Sunday as the wet weather moves in.
Many of the areas at risk of floods are currently in a state of drought, which is gripping the South East, East Anglia, the Midlands, the South West and south and east Yorkshire after two unusually dry winters in a row.
In its latest weekly drought briefing, the Environment Agency said all regions had now received above average rainfall for April, boosting river levels and providing relief for farmers, gardeners and wildlife in drought areas.
But groundwater levels remained low and the rain was not yet making a difference to the drought conditions, the agency warned. And soil left dry by prolonged dry weather is increasing the risk of flash floods as heavy rain quickly runs off hard, compacted ground.
Aisling Creevey, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said the worst weather would be on Sunday. She said of: "There will be spells of rain and drizzle in southern England and Wales throughout the day. By late afternoon it will start to get heavier and there will be winds of up to 40mph by the end of the night. Cornwall, the far south west of Wales and coastal areas of Lincolnshire and northern parts of East Anglia will be hit. They could rise to 50mph."
She said Sunday would be a "blustery, wet, very unpleasant day," with wind gusts of up to 60mph. "There is already a lot of waterlogged ground and there will be significant rain totals meaning that localised flooding is likely."
Nine flood warnings were in place today for the North East, with properties at risk from rising water levels in a number of rivers including the Ouse in York. Householders were urged to take action to protect their homes. Another band of rain looks set to hit the country on Tuesday.