River Severn flooding continues as 24 hours of rain expected across West Midlands
Flooding along the River Severn is likely to continue until Sunday, the Environment Agency has said, with heavy showers forecast for most of Friday.
Parts of Wales and northern England could receive up to 80 millimetres of rain on Friday as Storm Jorge hits the UK, the Met Office has warned.
Communities already hit by floods are bracing for further inundation, with the storm set to bring further heavy rain and wind across the UK over the weekend.
Flooding in photos:
Flood warnings remain in place along most of the River Severn, including Bewdley, Bridgnorth and Stourport, with a severe "danger to life" warning still covering the Wharfage in Ironbridge.
Heavy rain was forecast throughout Friday across the Black Country, Worcestershire and Staffordshire, with the showers not expected to stop until Saturday morning, according to the Met Office.
Sleet was falling across much of the West Midlands during rush hour on Friday morning, making for difficult driving conditions.
Meanwhile strong winds are forecast for much of England, Wales and Northern Ireland on Saturday, reaching 70mph in coastal areas and up to 60mph inland.
The Met Office’s chief meteorologist, Paul Gundersen, said further flooding is possible with rain forecast to fall on already saturated ground after the Severn reached near-record levels this week.
Rising waters flowed over the temporary barriers installed at Beales Corner in Bewdley on Wednesday and pushed the barriers back towards a pub and other businesses in Ironbridge, sparking fears that the defences there could be fully breached. Residents were evacuated in both towns as a result.
Mayor of Bewdley John Byng said the clean-up effort there would be hampered by the further bad weather.
Bewdley Bridge remained closed due to flooding on Friday morning, although upstream at Arley the footbridge was back open.
The Severn peaked at 5.48m in Bewdley on Wednesday - just short of the record 5.56m reached in 2000 - and had dropped to 4.6m by Friday morning.
“There’s now very little to be done until we can clean up, so we’ve got about 10 days left before we can actually do anything," Councillor Byng said.
“We have to wait for the water to recede now, but with more rainfall to come I think we will be waiting 10 days.
“The fire service, police and Environment Agency have also been wonderful, and we’ve had lots of volunteers too.”
Speaking in Ironbridge on Thursday, Environment Secretary George Eustice said the reason for his delay in visiting the town was to allow for the emergency services to “deal with the immediate impacts”.
Asked why Prime Minister Boris Johnson was yet to visit, the Conservative MP said: “When he appointed me two weeks ago he made it clear he wanted me to lead on this.
“I have kept him regularly informed with what is happening.”
This month is already the second wettest February on record, with the total average rainfall from February 1 to 25 measuring 179.3mm, the Met Office said.
The figure to beat is 193.4mm, which was set in February 1990.
Mr Gundersen said: “This weekend we’ll see another named Storm bring strong winds to parts of the UK with several wind and rain warnings in place.
“We have issued rain warnings for parts of Wales and northern England, where rain will be heaviest and we could see 60-80mm possible over the highest ground.”
Yellow weather warnings for rain are in place for the North West and South West of England, parts of Wales and Northern Ireland between midday on Friday and 9am on Saturday.
The Met Office has also issued a yellow wind warning for a 24-hour period from midday on Saturday covering most of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and south-west Scotland.
On Thursday, Mr Johnson declined to say whether he would visit those made homeless by recent flooding.
Speaking in central London, he instead focused on how the “massive issue” of flooding “presents an opportunity” for job creation.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has previously accused Mr Johnson of being a “part-time Prime Minister” due to his absence from affected areas.
Mr Johnson said on Thursday: “There’s a massive issue about flood defences, and we have put £2.6 billion in and we will be investing another £4 billion.
“This is something that is absolutely critical for our country to tackle.”
Toby Willison, executive director of operations at the Environment Agency, said: “Our operational teams continue to work night and day to protect communities alongside the River Severn, which is experiencing record levels.
“River levels will remain exceptionally high on the Severn for some time and communities, in particular Shrewsbury, Bewdley, Bridgnorth and Ironbridge, should prepare for potentially ongoing severe flooding.”
Storm Jorge is the fifth storm to hit the UK since December 6 last year and third in February,
Met Office forecaster Craig Snell said it was “not uncommon” to see so many storms in such a short period of time.
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