19 December 2020

Torrential rain triggers evacuations and vehicle rescues

19 December 2020

Emergency services evacuated people from caravans and rescued drivers stranded on flood-hit roads after half a month’s worth of rain fell in some parts of the UK.

A number of flood warnings and alerts remain in place across south Wales and the south-west of England on Saturday following torrential downpours.

The Met Office said upland areas in these regions bore the brunt of the wet weather on Friday.

On Saturday morning, emergency services were seen rescuing a DPD delivery van driver who had become stranded in flood water at Newbridge on Usk in Wales.

A DPD delivery van was stranded in flood water in Newbridge on Usk (PA Wire)
Winter weather Dec 19th 2020 (PA Wire)

Cornwall Fire and Rescue service said it was called shortly after 10pm on Friday to a caravan site at Notter Bridge, on the Devon and Cornwall border, where water had breached a flood defence.

Rescue workers, which included units from Devon and Cornwall Police and a Dartmoor and Cornwall search and rescue service, searched around 50 caravans to check on the welfare of occupants.

A total of 18 people were evacuated, with some rehoused, Cornwall Fire and Rescue said.

A Twitter account for Devon and Cornwall Roads Policing Team said that the weather early on Saturday morning was “vile”.

They shared a photo of a van that had to be winched back on to the road after it got stuck in a soft verge caused by standing water.

Tom Morgan, Met Office meteorologist, said Whitebarrow in Devon saw the most rain on Friday, with 138mm falling in 24 hours.

In Carmarthenshire, south Wales, a total of 98mm fell at Llyn-y-Fan Blaenau in the same period.

Mr Morgan said: “That’s well over what we would expect to fall.

“For those upland areas we generally see around 200 to 250 m rain expected across the whole of December.

“So we saw roughly half a month’s worth of rain falling in a day in those locations and even at lower levels we saw quite widely 30 to 50mm of rain.”

Mr Morgan said the main, prolonged heavy rain had cleared away but it would still be some time for the impact to appear, with the potential for flooding and rivers bursting their banks.

He said places in Cumbria, in the north west of England, also saw in excess of 60 m of rain falling on Friday.

As of around 2pm of Saturday, the Environment Agency had 16 flood warnings in place in England – which advise immediate action – mostly across the south-west and along the English and Welsh border.

Winter weather Dec 19th 2020 (PA Wire)
Winter weather Dec 19th 2020 (PA Wire)

A further 70 flood warnings, which highlight where “flooding is possible”, cover the same regions as well as further parts of central, north-west and north-east England.

Meanwhile, Natural Resources Wales has 14 flood warnings and 22 flood alerts in place, largely across the south of the country.

Mr Morgan said “the news is better” over the rest of weekend with a mixture of sunshine and showers forecast.

He said some “heavy and blustery showers” would move across the country from west to east, bringing some “intense” downpours in some places, particularly the west, but rainfall would not be prolonged.

But on Monday, the heaviest rain was likely to be across Wales and the south-west of England again, Mr Morgan said.

He said this was “a bit of a concern” due to the already saturated ground in these areas, with the possibility of further localised flooding.

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