NORTH Yorkshire and other flood-hit areas of Britain can expect a reprieve from recent heavy downpours after forecasters predicted a dry weekend for most of the country.
A band of heavy showers brought flash flooding and rising river levels as it moved across the North of England yesterday.
It followed days of heavy rain across the country which prompted severe weather warnings for parts of southern England and Wales earlier this week.
Meanwhile, it was announced this morning that parts of England, including Yorkshire, London, the South West and the Midlands, are no longer in drought.
The Environment Agency lifted “drought status” for 19 areas in those regions after heavy, persistent rain boosted river and reservoir levels, reducing pressure on the environment and water supplies.
Water companies in those areas are unlikely to impose hosepipe bans on customers this summer, the Environment Agency said.
But groundwater levels are still low across the country, and parts of East Anglia and the South East remain in drought with hosepipe bans in place.
MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said much of Britain would see more settled weather over the weekend with some sunny spells, but it would remain cold for the time of year.
Forecaster Brendan Jones said: “We should see a bit of a break from the heavy rain over the weekend.
“Today will see more of the same for parts of Scotland and northern England, with some hill snow in northern Scotland.
“From Manchester southwards, there may be one or two showers but a lot of the day will be mainly dry. Some sunshine will come through which will be welcomed.
“Most of the country will have a fairly good day on Saturday. There may be the odd showers but many places will be dry with some sunshine.
“Temperatures will range from 12 to 15 degrees, which isn’t brilliant for May but better than it has been. By Sunday, most of England and Wales should see some pretty good weather.”
Firefighters in North Yorkshire were called to a number of localised incidents yesterday including the rescue of 350 sheep and lambs caught out by a flooded river in the Yorkshire Dales.
The fire service had also attended reports of flooded properties, mainly in the Skipton and Harrogate areas.
There were a number of reports of a flash flood in the village of Summerbridge, north of Harrogate.
Three of the four Environment Agency flood warnings in force across England and Wales were for rivers in North Yorkshire.
Two were on the River Nidd in the Knaresborough area and the third was on the River Ure in the area of Ripon and Boroughbridge.
Meteorologists said the flash flooding was likely to have been caused by a narrow band of exceptionally heavy showers which worked its way across the North Yorkshire region yesterday afternoon.
Mr Jones said the band of downpours - only 5-10 miles wide in places - combined with the high general rainfall levels seen across the region on Tuesday night to produce the exceptional totals.
He said: “With that volume of rain coming down, the water just hasn’t anywhere to go.”
Mr Jones added there were dramatic differences in temperature levels between places caught in the wave of downpours and those just outside.
He said the North Yorkshire seaside town of Scarborough, which had 0.3in (7mm) of rain in an hour yesterday afternoon, only saw a high of 13C (55.4F) today, whereas at Bridlington, just a few miles down the coast, temperatures hit 21C (69.8F).
The highest rainfall figure was in Shap, Cumbria, which saw 1.4in (36mm) in 12 hours yesterday and 2.4in (62mm) in 24 hours.
Mr Jones said the narrow band of exceptionally heavy rain had now moved out to the North Sea and the more general rainy weather was moving towards Scotland.