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New Year weather: Storms to see out 2013

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: December 31, 2013

  • Fallen trees and flooded roads caused severe disruption in Somerset Pictures: Fran Stothard

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The West Country is in for a miserable start to the new year as the weathermen predict strong winds and rain for the first ten days of 2014.

Weather forecasters have warned another band of heavy rain and gale force winds are headed for the UK, raising the risk of flooding on already-waterlogged ground.

And as the Environment Agency warned commuters and householders to prepare, Environment minister Owen Paterson warned councils and power companies that they must have enough staff on duty over the New Year holiday to cope.

Revellers can expect New Year's Eve to be dry until around 9pm from when it will get progressively wetter and windier. More than 1.5ins (40mm) of rain could fall on high ground as the storm tracks across the West Country on New Year's Day.

An Environment Agency spokesman said there was a continuing risk of flooding as rivers respond to heavy rainfall overnight and the West looks set to bear the brunt.

A spokesman said: "On New Year's Day, heavy rain is expected which could cause flooding to communities in the south east and south west of England. The Environment Agency is urging communities to prepare in advance."

Environment Minister Mr Paterson said: "We have had bad weather overnight and we are looking to more bad weather unfortunately on New Year's Day, New Year's night.

"We made it very clear at Cobra yesterday – we do expect the power companies and we also expect those local councils that did not perform, that they have adequate staff to cater with what I am afraid may be more difficult times and more flooding."

A spokesman for Met Office said in the short term there would not be a "great deal of change" from the storm pattern which will continue for the next ten days.

"With ground already saturated over much of this area, the public should be aware of the risk of further localised flooding," said a spokesman.

"We have got another wet and windy spell coming through on New Year's Day and then we have got a couple of days which are looking very showery.

"On the plus side the winds don't look to be as strong as those in the recent storms we have had coming through.

"Having said that we'll have more rain falling on ground that is already saturated and trees that have been weakened may be brought down even though the wind speeds are less.

"There's not a great deal of change over the next ten days although looking further into January, the storminess should ease a little bit more."

News of more misery to come came as Britons faced significant disruption from roads and railway lines blocked by trees and floodwater as they battled to work after the festive break.

The A48 Severn Bridge was closed yesterday and fallen trees blocked the A35 in Dorset, the A465 in Monmouthshire and the A3059 at Newquay. The A48 in Gloucestershire was one of the many roads to be hit by flooding.

As winds reached speeds of 75mph, three women narrowly escaped when a tree crashed through the sunroof of a car at Torquay train station.

Grandmother Sally Tibbetts said: "I was taking my 23-year-old granddaughter and her friend to the train station when there was a huge bang on the car.

"A branch had fallen and the back end of the sunroof came in.

"My granddaughter screamed. She was in the back of the car and she was hit on the head. The glass came in. She was bleeding but she was well enough to catch her train."

George Goodfellow, a forecaster for the MeteoGroup, the weather-forecasting arm of the Press Association, said the South West will suffer badly in the storm.

"Normally, we'd say that this is a typical winter storm but because we're still recovering from storms it is likely to cause more disruption."

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