Parts of England endured a month’s worth of rain in 24 hours, with scores of people rescued or forced to evacuate their homes, others stranded overnight in a shopping centre, and travel plans thrown into chaos.
An Environment Agency (EA) rain gauge showed Swineshaw in the Peak District saw 4.4in (112mm) of rain on Thursday – the highest total of anywhere across England – while flood-hit parts of Sheffield experienced 3.4in (85mm) during the same period.
The average monthly rainfall total for Yorkshire at this time of year is 3.5in (89mm), although forecasters have predicted that the worst of the rain is now over.
Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said: “Some places have seen a month’s worth of rain in one day.
“The rain is easing and moving south but obviously the impact of that will continue to be felt.”
Other parts of Yorkshire and the Midlands woke on Friday to their wettest day in years, with some areas set to experience major travel disruption following Thursday’s deluge.
As of 9am on Friday, the EA had 111 flood warnings in place, a slight reduction on the number in place at dawn, as well as five severe “danger to life” warnings relating to the River Don at Barnby Dun, Kirk Bramwith, Kirk Sandall, South Bramwith and the Willow Bridge caravan site, which are all in Doncaster.
There were 30 flood warnings in place for Nottinghamshire, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson is visiting on his campaign trail.
An additional 35 homes in Mansfield were evacuated as a precaution after a mudslide in the area, while residents in around 25 homes in Worksop were also ordered to flee due to the risk of flooding.
Damien West, head of prevention and protection at Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, tweeted: “In Worksop with Crews who are working tirelessly to rescue a large number of people from flooded premises. A very long, cold and hard working night.”
In Yorkshire, Doncaster Council told people in parts of Kirk Sandall to “evacuate immediately” at around 7am after the River Don breached its banks.
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said they rescued more than 100 stranded people on Thursday night, with around 500 calls to its control room between 10pm and 4am.
Elsewhere, around 30 people sought refuge in the Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield due to gridlocked traffic outside, as the extreme weather conditions meant those turning up for the Christmas lights switch-on were left stranded.
Shopper Saskia Hazelwood, 17, from Doncaster, told the PA news agency she and her friends “instantly started panicking” when they saw there was no way of getting home.
She said: “We were provided with free refreshments throughout the night and morning but it was certainly not enough.
“We had to basically camp out in the food area until they finally got a taxi to us at 7am.
“None of us had slept for over 24 hours. We were very tired, stressed and, of course, our families were panicking and kept keeping in touch.
“At the start we thought it would be fun, a nice sleepover, something to certainly remember, but after 14 hours of being stranded in Meadowhall we just couldn’t wait to get home, get into our own beds, feel safe again, and catch up on sleep.”
Shopper Becky Laver told BBC Radio Sheffield: “No-one looks happy, everyone looks miserable.
“People are having to buy their own pyjamas and quilts because of how cold and wet they are from the rain.”
A spokeswoman confirmed that the shopping centre would open as normal at 10am on Friday.
She said: “We anticipate that nearly 80,000 people visited Meadowhall yesterday and less than 30 customers remained in our building throughout the night.
“They were supported by night staff, security and members of the Meadowhall management team who, where possible, helped them to either secure hotel accommodation nearby or arrange taxis home.
“For those who were unable to get to their home safely or preferred to stay with us due to adverse weather conditions where they live, we looked after them by providing an array of blankets, coats and towels as well as a continuous supply of refreshments.”
Sheffield was particularly badly hit during flooding in summer 2007, which saw millions of pounds spend on prevention schemes.
Yet it was again hit by some of the most dramatic scenes on Thursday, with a number of roads left impassable to traffic, cars stranded in floodwater and gridlock resulting on many routes.
Rail operator Northern issued “do not travel” advice for passengers using five lines on its network hit by the deluge.
The lines involved are between Sheffield and Gainsborough, Sheffield and Lincoln, Sheffield and Goole, Hebden Bridge and Rochdale, and the line from Sheffield to Leeds via Moorthorpe.
Elsewhere, Saturday’s horse-racing meeting at Doncaster has been cancelled due to a waterlogged track.