Homeowners and businesses are in a race against time to put up flood barriers and sandbags as Storm Christoph swept in from the Atlantic.
With two months of rain forecast to lash the country in just two and a half days, flood warnings were issued for all areas, with more severe amber warnings for a swathe of central, eastern and northern England.
By Tuesday night 165 flood alerts were in place – with a further 28 flood warnings – and the Environment Agency said the number was likely to rise overnight.
In York, where the Ouse burst it banks on Monday (pictured), sandbags were being piled up along main footpaths around the historic city centre
In Bewdley, Worcestershire, the Environment Agency was erecting emergency defences along the Severn
At Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, shop owners were putting up steel barriers up to a metre high in doorways to protect against the River Calder
A man was rescued after his Morrison’s van got stuck trying to cross a road in Weardale, County Durhan, prompting a fire rescue team to winch him out
With a month’s rain forecast to lash the country in just 36 hours, flood warnings were issued for all areas as cars battled through heavy flooding in Carlisle on Tuesday evening
Homeowners and businesses are in a race against time to put up flood barriers and sandbags across the country including Nabum Lock Caravan Park in York (pictured)
Large waves crash over a seawall as a man stands near Brighton Palace Pier on Tuesday. By Tuesday night 125 flood alerts were in place, with a further 14 flood warnings
The Met Office has put flood, snow and ice warnings in place as Storm Christoph makes its way from the Atlantic towards Britain
Up to eight inches of rain could fall in places on Wednesday and Thursday on already saturated ground, while the added complications of high winds and snow led the Met Office to warn the conditions pose a ‘danger to life’.
Hasty preparations were being made to shore up flood defences along major rivers and floodplains as the third named storm of the autumn-winter season arrived.
Tuesday also saw disruption to transport, with Network Rail reporting delays and some line closures in the North West in the evening.
In York, where the Ouse burst it banks on Monday, sandbags were being piled up along main footpaths around the historic city centre to try to keep the rising waters out of buildings.
At Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, shop owners were putting up steel barriers up to a metre high in doorways to protect against the River Calder.
And in Bewdley, Worcestershire, the Environment Agency was erecting emergency defences along the Severn.
A Ferrari crashed through a barrier on the M621 in West Yorkshire today. Highways England tweeted the above picture, saying: ‘M621 anti-clockwise J1 Beeston to J27 M62 lane 1 is currently closed to facilitate the recovery of vehicles involved in a collision. Storm Christoph 1 – Ferrari 0’
Workmen prepare flood defences near the River Ouse in York today as Storm Christoph is set to bring widespread flooding
Motorists make their way through floodwater on Derby Road in Hathern, Leicestershire, on Tuesday afternoon
A local farmer helps rescue a stranded motorist from a flood on Hamilton Road in Leicester on Tuesday morning
Gardens in Hemingford in Cambridgeshire starting to flood after the River Great Ouse burst its banks
Flooding at Cawood in North Yorkshire today as Storm Christoph begins to batter parts of Yorkshire with heavy rain
In the North West, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire have all been warned of flooding, while further east, rivers have overflowed in Nottinghamshire and Cambridgeshire.
In the village of Fishlake, South Yorkshire, where 160 homes were flooded in November 2019, residents were again being warned to be ready to evacuate.
Ros Jones, mayor of nearby Doncaster, said: ‘I do not want people to panic, but flooding is possible so please be prepared.’
Council workers in the borough have been working since Sunday to distribute sandbags to homes in low-lying areas.
There were also warnings of potential evacuations in Manchester, where a major incident was declared yesterday ahead of expected heavy rainfall.
The Met Office’s Craig Snell said flooding could be expected anywhere in the country from today onwards until Friday.
The playground area on the waterlogged flood plains of the River Great Ouse in Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire, today
Stranded cars in floodwater on Derby Road in Hathern, Leicestershire, on Tuesday afternoon
Fields around the market town of St Ives in Cambridgeshire were underwater as Britain braces itself for further flooding
An ambulance passes a flooded field next to the A418 near Thame, Oxfordshire, as Storm Christoph brings chaos to Britain
He added: ‘Continuous, persistent rain is likely in places until Thursday morning. We probably won’t see the impact until that water begins to run off.’
Between midnight and 2pm yesterday, 1.6 inches of rain had fallen in Aberllefenni in west Wales, with 1.4 inches in Bolton.
Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency, told MPs yesterday that its teams were out closing flood barriers and clearing drains.
He added: ‘We have 14 flood warnings out, which means that flooding is expected and people should take action to protect themselves, and 125 flood alerts, which means that flooding is possible and people should prepare to take action.
‘There are no plans right now to evacuate, but that might be necessary and preparations are being made by the relevant agencies as a precaution.’
The last major flood evacuation was on Christmas Day when 1,300 had to leave their homes in Bedfordshire after the Great Ouse burst its banks.
Simon Partridge, a Met Office forecaster, said of Storm Christoph: ‘It’s not a traditional sort of storm, it’s going to be windy but it’s not based on the wind strength at all, it’s really down to the disruption that’s being caused by rain.
‘There are already parts of Cumbria that have already seen over 80mm of rain since midnight on Tuesday and there’s a large number of places that have seen 50mm, and we are going to see further rain over the next 24 to 36 hours.’
Honister Pass in Cumbria saw 77mm of rain between midnight and 6pm on Tuesday, according to Environment Agency figures.
Mr Partridge said the storm meant that some areas could see double the average amount of monthly rainfall over a few days.
He said: ‘Those areas that have seen between 50mm and 70mm already, the warning is out until midday on Thursday, so an extremely long period, but by then we could see up to 150mm to possibly 200mm of rainfall.
‘The Midlands for example, their average rainfall total for the whole month is 73mm, so they could easily get double that in the course of two, two and a half days.’
A major incident was declared in both Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire ahead of the expected heavy rainfall.
North Yorkshire County Council said more than 15,000 sandbags were at the ready around the county.
Meanwhile, Public Health England (PHE) issued a cold weather alert from ‘first thing’ on Thursday until 9am on January 25 for the North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber.
The agency said the risk of flooding will amplify the public health risks of the severe cold weather.