UK weather – Storm Christoph to dump two months' rain as Army on standby with almost 300 flood alerts issued

THE ARMY is on standby in Britain as Storm Christoph is set to smash the UK with two months' rain and snow in three days.

Almost 300 flood alerts have been issued as the Met Office warns of a "timeline of hazards" across Britain.

⚠️ Read our UK weather live blog for the very latest news and forecasts.

A Cobra meeting was held yesterday to discuss the possibility of using soldiers to respond to the major flooding across the country after Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire declared major incidents during Storm Christoph.

Speaking to The Telegraph, a Ministry of Defence source said that soldiers were most likely to be deployed today, if at all, in response to the disruptions across the country.

Today, Boris Johnson told MPs that he will chair a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee in response to the storm.

The PM told the Commons: "Our sympathies also go out to those affected by the latest floods.

"I want to thank the Environment Agency and our emergency services for the work they're doing to support those communities, and I'll be chairing a Cobra meeting later on to co-ordinate the national response."

51 flood warnings are in place while 176 flood alerts have been issued across England.

In Scotland, five flood alerts are now in place until Thursday morning while Wales has 14 warnings in place across the country.

Parts of the UK could see two months' worth of rainfall in just two-and-a-half days.

Simon Partridge, a Met Office forecaster, explained: "It's not a traditional sort of storm, it's going to be windy but it's not based on the wind strength at all, it's really down to the disruption that's being caused by rain.

"There are already parts of Cumbria that have already seen over 80mm of rain since midnight on Tuesday and there's a large number of places that have seen 50mm, and we are going to see further rain over the next 24 to 36 hours."

Honister Pass in Cumbria saw 77mm of rain between midnight and 6pm on Tuesday, according to Environment Agency figures.

Mr Partridge said the storm meant that some areas could see double the average amount of monthly rainfall over a few days.

He said: "Those areas that have seen between 50mm and 70mm already, the warning is out until midday on Thursday, so an extremely long period, but by then we could see up to 150mm to possibly 200mm of rainfall.

"The Midlands, for example, their average rainfall total for the whole month is 73mm, so they could easily get double that in the course of two, two and a half days."

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.

Train services have been hit by Storm Christoph which has flooded lines and made it dangerous.

Replacement bus services for commuters are running between Shrewsbury and Machynlleth due to flooding.

Busses are also replacing trains between North Llanrwst and Blaenau Ffestiniog, and Transport for Wales says there are no services between Shrewsbury and Wrexham General because of flooding between Gobowen and Chirk.

There are delays of up to 15 minutes on Avanti West Coast and Transport for Wales services between Holyhead and Bangor due to speed restrictions caused by the weather.

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.

Last night rescue teams worked throughout the night to save a Morrisons delivery van that came stuck on a flooded road.

The County Durham & Darlington Fire & Rescue Service posted a video of the rescue congratulating the crew on rescuing the delivery driver.

Met Office spokesman Oli Claydon said rain is the biggest initial concern – before temperatures plunge and winds pick up later this week.

He described the situation as "a timeline of different hazards as we go through the week".

Yesterday in Leeds, a Ferrari flipped after hitting a crash barrier on the M621 as Highways England tweeted: “Storm Christoph 1 — Ferrari 0.”

In South Yorkshire, hundreds of people have prepared for evacuation after the Ouse burst its banks.

Instead of a short, sharp, stormy blast, the UK will face "really persistent heavy rain", he said, adding: "It's really just the prolonged accumulation of rainfall, rather than a short, 'come and gone' weather event."

Last night police were amazed when a tree was blown down on top of a small car and nobody was killed.

They said the driver was the luckiest man in Britain after the huge tree pulped the little Fiat 500.

It was almost half its height after the storm blew down the tree in Ixworth Road, Thurston, near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

But incredibly the tree fell on the bonnet, inches from the driver's seat.


THE UK will face a “timeline of different hazards

WEDNESDAY – Two separate Yellow warnings for snow have been issued and areas could see as much as 20-30cm of snow. Temperatures will drop with a return of overnight frosts for most of the UK.

THURSDAY – Amber rain warning will end at 12pm. However homes and businesses are likely to be flooded causing damage to some buildings. There is a chance that there will be power cuts and loss of other services to homes.

"If the car had been a split second earlier, the tree would have landed right on the driver's head and killed him," said one officer today.

Police tweeted "First casualty of the bad weather…this convertible Fiat 500 had an oak tree fall on top of him as he was driving along. Amazingly no injuries."

The Met Office has issued an amber warning for rain between Tuesday and Thursday for central northern England – and the service says some towns could be cut off by the weather.

The caution covers millions living in and around Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Lincoln, Nottingham, Leicester and Peterborough.

Parts of Scotland have also been issued with snow and ice warnings.

Lancashire, Yorks, Greater Manchester, Lincs, the East Mids and Cambs are likely to be worst hit.

A yellow warning is also in place for huge swathes of the country between Lanark in Scotland in the north and Cambridge in the south. All of Wales is covered by the alert.

Meanwhile, Ros Jones, mayor of Doncaster, has declared a major incident in South Yorkshire, telling locals: "I do not want people to panic, but flooding is possible, so please be prepared."

The Environment Agency described the combination of torrential rain and melting snow as a "volatile situation", as councils prepare for possible evacuations should a severe flood warning be issued.

Catherine Wright, acting executive director for flood and coastal risk management at the Environment Agency, said: "That rain is falling on very wet ground and so we are very concerned that it's a very volatile situation.

"We are expecting significant flooding to occur on the back of that weather."

She said the Environment Agency will be working with local authorities to help with evacuation efforts should a severe flood warning be issued, adding: "If you do need to evacuate then that is allowed within the Covid rules the Government has."

Particularly heavy rain is expected to fall overnight, and forecasters say homes and businesses are likely to flood, causing damage to some buildings.

The Met Office has issued a 'danger to life' warning due to fast-flowing or deep floodwater, while there is a "good chance" some communities may be cut off by flooded roads.

The northern Peak District and parts of the southern Pennines will be among the worst-hit, with deep flooding predicted.

But the highest rainfall recorded overnight was in Aberllefenni, west Wales, where 35.4mm fell between midnight and 8am on Tuesday.

Of the areas in the amber warning zone, Bolton in Greater Manchester has seen the most rain so far, with 24.4mm over the same period.

Some rivers, including the Ouse, have already burst their banks.

The Met Office's chief meteorologist Dan Suri said: “Following a cold spell where the main hazard was snow, our focus now turns to notably heavy rain moving across the UK this week.

"Some locations could see over 100mm of rain falling through the course just a couple of days, with up to 200mm possible over higher ground.

"These amounts of rainfall, along with snowmelt present a real threat of flooding and people should keep a close eye on flood warnings.

“As the system moves away into the North Sea tonight and Thursday morning, there will be strong winds along the east coast for a time. 

"Meanwhile, colder air coming southwards into the weather system brings the risk of further snow on the back edge of this system.

"Temperatures will gradually fall across the UK through the end of the week and into the weekend bringing a return to widespread overnight frosts.”

In Wales, nine flood alerts have been issued, while five alerts are in place for Scotland.

Highways England advised drivers to take extra care on motorways and major A roads, while the RAC breakdown service said motorists should only drive if absolutely necessary.

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