Flood warnings issued and Thames Barrier closed in wake of Storm Aurore
By Sophie Corcoran, PA
Parts of the country have been told to expect flooding after torrential downpours across the UK.
Heavy rain fell on Wednesday night and into the early hours of Thursday, prompting the Environment Agency to issue 51 flood warnings.
Emergency services said they had received reports of flooding after southern England was hit by a storm moving in from France.
The warnings have been put in place along the east and south coasts of England, with residents told to “act now” and move vehicles to a higher land level, put important items upstairs and erect property protection barriers.
The Environment Agency said the Thames Barrier has been closed to protect London from flooding.
It said the move will protect the capital “from a high tide as a result of low pressure and northerly winds coinciding with spring tides”.
The barrier will be closed until 6pm on Thursday.
A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “While the barrier will help to protect London from tidal flooding, there are also risks from coastal flooding along the east coast on Thursday and Friday.
“Heavy rain also means that there is a separate but concurrent risk of river flooding across the south of England.”
The wet weather came on Wednesday night as a low-pressure system named Storm Aurore moved in from France, bringing up to 50mm of rain and 45mph gusts.
Essex Fire Service said it had received more than 120 calls up until 2.30am on Thursday regarding flood-related incidents.
A Met Office yellow weather warning was in place until 3am on Thursday.
Grahame Madge, a Met Office spokesman, said that in the time the amber weather warning was in place, between 4pm on Wednesday and 2am on Thursday, the largest amount of rainfall that fell was 51.4mm and was recorded in Somerset.
He added that areas including London, Kent and Surrey all had more than 30mm of rainfall while the warning was in place.
Mr Madge said: “That’s a significant amount of rain in a 10-hour period. Since that low-pressure system has allowed a transition to occur, we are seeing a more settled period of weather.
“We will have airflow coming from the north-west, which will bring showery conditions, although it shouldn’t deliver the quantity of rain we saw overnight on Thursday. What we will see is a reduction in temperature so it will feel cooler, and this will remain until parts of the weekend.”
Mr Madge said another transition would begin on Saturday or Sunday and would bring more rain to the west of England.
He added: “We have not issued any weather warnings yet and we are not certain we will, but we will keep that under review.”