A HECTIC weekend for emergency workers is in full swing as bad weather led to accidents on the roads on the busiest travel day of the year and patrols were stepped up in town and city centres on “mad Friday” last night.
Surface water caused a number of crashes and road closures across the country yesterday and more travel misery is expected today and tomorrow, with bands of persistent rain forecast to batter Yorkshire.
The Environment Agency is urging motorists to drive with care and allow plenty of time for their journeys in case of flooding.
Phil Younge, regional flood and coastal risk manager, said: “Although the rainfall forecast for the next few days is not particularly heavy for this time of year, the rain is falling on saturated ground and there is likely to be some further surface water flooding as a result.”
Humberside Fire and Rescue Service group manager Simon Anfield warned motorists not to drive through flood water.
“It is easy to get stuck, even in relatively shallow water,” he said.
“It may seem an inconvenience to find an alternative route when confronted by flood water, especially during the Christmas rush, but getting stuck is not only an inconvenience, it can be both costly and dangerous.”
The AA said it expected to have attended around 13,000 breakdowns yesterday, including 108 cars driven through or stuck in flood water.
Darron Burness, the AA’s head of special operations, said: “If you’re travelling in rural areas, try to stick to the main roads where there’s likely to be a lower risk of flooding.
“With so much rain expected, driving conditions could be pretty challenging at times with surface spray and standing water.”
Train operator East Coast confirmed it would be running additional trains between London and Yorkshire this weekend to accommodate passengers heading home for the festive break.
There were 38 flood warnings and alerts in force across the region last night.
The River Ouse in York was 3.8 metres above summer level last night and levels were expected to rise over the weekend.
York Council said it had teams on standby ready to work around the clock in case of flooding over Christmas and the New Year.
The rain is expected to relent by Christmas Day, when forecasters are predicting sunshine and unseasonably mild temperatures of up to 7C (32F) in the North.
Yorkshire’s towns and city centres were expecting their busiest night of the year last night as thousands of revellers packed into pubs, bars and clubs to celebrate finishing work for the festive period.
Police officers and PCSOs were out in force across the region to deal with an anticipated rise in alcohol-fuelled disorder over the evening, commonly known as “Mad Friday”.
Police usually see an increase in emergency calls of around 20 per cent over the last nights out before Christmas. South Yorkshire Police was tweeting details of every incident it attended last night while in North Yorkshire, 50 Special Constables were boosting police numbers.
Chief Superintendent Sue Day, director of response and Reassurance for North Yorkshire Police, said last night: “We are expecting many thousands of people celebrating the start of their Christmas and New Year break to be out and about across the county.
“In previous years, Mad Friday has passed off with a generally good natured atmosphere and we are expecting the same again this year.
“It is, however, a very busy time for the police due to the sheer number of people gathering together in pubs, bars and night clubs.”
A major signalling problem in west London yesterday meant services in and out of Paddington were severely delayed because only two of the four rail lines in and out of the station were in use and the Heathrow Express was also unable to run.
Train services near Gatwick Airport in West Sussex were affected by a signalling problem caused by an overnight fire at Preston Park near Brighton.