London: The Met Office has issued amber “be prepared” weather warnings, with Storm Frank expected to bring heavy downpours and strong winds later today.
Forecasters believe up to 90mm of rain could fall in parts of Cumbria on Wednesday, rising to 140mm or more in exposed areas – potentially bringing further flooding to the areas badly hit by Storm Desmond earlier in December.
Southwest Scotland has also been subjected to an amber warning for rain, with between 100mm and 150mm possible in the most vulnerable areas during the sixth named storm of the season.
Those amber warnings come into force at 12.15am on Wednesday, and are expected to last for most of the day.
The likelihood of prolonged showers has also led to the Met Office issuing a yellow “be aware” warning for rain and wind across northwest England – including in Lancashire, where many villages are beginning to pick up the pieces after flooding over Christmas devastated dozens of homes.
All those weather warnings are set to be updated later this morning, with Met Office chief meteorologist Will Lang adding: “Everyone should be aware of the potential for disruption in places from further flooding and the impacts of gales to transport.”
The warnings come as the Environment Agency (EA) promised a “complete rethink” of flooding preparedness.
EA deputy chief executive David Rooke said it would have to look at ways to flood-proof homes as well as traditional defences as the UK was “moving into a period of unknown extremes”.
Meanwhile, nine EA severe flood warnings – indicating “danger to life” – are still being enforced. They mostly centre on York, which has been badly hit by flooding over the Christmas period.
The government body’s three-day forecast suggests Cumbria is at a medium risk of flooding tomorrow as a result of Storm Frank, and further information is expected later.
While visiting communities in York on Monday where whole streets had been submerged during the latest bad weather, David Cameron told Sky News he will reassess spending on flood defences.
Although the Prime Minister said it was clear that flood defences do not “always do enough”, he denied there was a North-South divide in government spending.
Some residents in Lancashire have accused local authorities of unevenly distributing resources for cleaning up damage after flooding – amid allegations that one village was “neglected” by the Army and the Environment Agency, as teams helped residents in another area barely a mile away.
It has been estimated that the cost of repairing the devastation caused by the extreme weather could exceed £5.8bn – and people who have had their homes flooded are being advised to get their claims started as soon as possible, and to take photos of damaged items.
Environment Secretary Liz Truss is due to chair a meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergency meeting today.