Landslide alerts issued as rain threatens further flood misery

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WARNINGS have been issued of further flooding problems in coming days as more heavy rain sweeps the country.

A highly-unusual landslide warning was also issued yesterday by the British Geological Survey after the continuing threat of heavy downpours sparked fears of land instability.

Walkers were urged to take extra care in “dangerous conditions”.

Geological experts said the warning was because ground was already saturated, more heavy rainfall was forecast and “multiple reports of slope instability”.

Coastal areas in the south-west of England were in particular danger of collapsing cliff edges and rockfall, but all areas enduring heavy rain were said to be at risk.

A spokesman for the Met Office said: “We have had such heavy and persistent rain fall over the last few days and weeks and that there is a danger of landslides and rockfall along the coast, even on coastal paths.

“Do not get too close to the cliff edge or walk under the cliff face along the beach and remember that coastal paths could be impacted too.”

Many coastal paths have been closed over the last few weeks along the south-west and railway services have been disrupted by small landslides.

More wet weather swept across the country yesterday and another Atlantic front is due to cause further heavy rain tomorrow night and into Saturday.

Weather warnings for the west of England and Wales have already been issued amid predictions of as much as two inches of rain in some areas.

Rail and road networks continue to be badly hit by the weather, with railway lines in the worst-affected south west still closed today.

First Great Western trains has again urging passengers not to try to travel today.

Flooding has blocked the line between Taunton and Exeter and led to further branch line closures in Devon and Cornwall although limited services will begin again today between Exeter and Newton Abbot despite a landslide.

Further delays are expected for travellers between Manchester Piccadilly and Liverpool because of a landslip in the Glazebrook area. Diversions and bus services will operate today on that route.

The Environment Agency had more than 100 flood warnings in place last night, urging residents to take immediate action against expected flooding while 200 less severe flood alerts had been issued across most of England and Wales.

Flood warnings yesterday remained in place in Yorkshire along parts of the rivers Derwent and Ouse in North Yorkshire and the Hull in East Yorkshire.

However, the situation in other parts of the region has been easing. Paul Knightley, forecaster for MeteoGroup, said: “There is a big Atlantic storm winding itself up.

“There will be pretty heavy rain on Saturday – there could be 25mm to 50mm in western areas on Friday and Saturday. There could be gales around the coastal areas of up to 50 to 55mph, maybe more in northern Scotland.”

Mr Knightley added: “It is fairly normal weather for this time of year, but given the ground is soaking wet it is going to cause a few issues.

“In another year if we had had a dry autumn it would not have been as much of a problem.”

The sodden Christmas comes towards the end of what is expected to be one of the wettest years in Britain since records began.

The UK’s average rainfall in 2012, excluding December, was 1,202mm – placing it 13th in the list of wettest years since records began in 1910.

The year 2000 remains the UK’s wettest year, with an average rainfall of 1,337mm.