Britain braced for NEW Atlantic storm set to batter beleaguered coastline this weekend with biggest waves of the winter and bringing huge deluge of rainfall on flooded communities
- Two new turbulent weather systems are expected to hit the country, bringing high winds and rain in their wake
- Two severe flood warnings remain in place in the Somerset Levels where many homes have already been evacuated
- Met Office has predicted up to 1.6ins of rain to fall on the south coast, where many areas are already drenched
- Upland areas including Salisbury Plan, South Downs and North Downs set to be worst affected by downpours
- Experts have predicted waves up to 35ft high could batter parts of Cornish coastline over the weekend
- Environment Agency spokesman has said people in parts of Britain face a 'conveyor belt of storms'
A new Atlantic storm is set to batter parts of Britain's beleaguered coastline this weekend with huge waves due to bring further devastation to the south west and heavy rain expected to heap even more chaos on to flooded communities.
The weather system is expected to bring up to 30mm of rain overnight tomorrow and into Saturday along with severe gale force winds of up to 80mph which could topple trees and cause more damage to southern Britain.
Experts meanwhile have predicted waves of up to 35ft could batter parts of the Cornish coastline on Saturday - the biggest seen this winter.
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Waves: High tide strikes again at Dawlish railway station in Devon near to where the train line was exposed by the wild storm yesterday
Forecast: Experts have predicted waves of up to 35ft could batter parts of the Cornish coastline on Saturday - the biggest seen this winter
Flooded: Waters have risen over night in Moorland, Somerset, where residents have been advised to evacuate their homes, as floods continue to cause chaos in the south west of England
Two new turbulent weather systems are expected to hit the country throughout the next few days with heavy rain and gale force winds set to continue to batter large parts of southern Britain today, leaving many areas at risk of further flooding.
Met Office forecaster Kirk Waite said: 'The real thing with the second system is the strength of the winds.
'Once the initial band of rain comes in you are going to see severe gales that could bring potential issues with a risk of trees falling.'
People living in the Somerset Levels were today set for further misery as two severe flood warnings remained in place, signifying a danger to life.
The Environment Agency said the first warning affects the Salt Moor and North Moor while the second is in place on the A361 between east Lyng and Burrowbridge, including the Somerset Levels Basket and craft Centre Area.
Many flood-hit homes on the Somerset levels have already been evacuated, and further rainfall raises the prospect of more residents having to leave their houses.
A number of residents however have reportedly refused to leave their homes because of the fear of looting.
Sue Sayer, in Moorland, told the BBC: 'There has already been looting in some properties, not directly in the centre of the village, but on the outskirts there's already been looting which is despicable.'
Waves BATTER the seafront at Clevedon, North Somerset
On its way: Experts have warned waves of up to 35ft could his the south west this weekend - the biggest are in black
Warnings: The Met Office warned that a fresh wave of heavy rain was due to hit southern England and Wales at around 6am today
Severe: The Environment Agency has issued two severe flood warnings for the south east along with a total of 61 flood warnings across the rest of the country
The Met Office warned that a fresh wave of heavy rain was due to hit southern England and Wales at around 6am today.
They said up to 1.6ins (40mm) of rain is being predicted to fall in the south coast, where many areas are already drenched from recent storms and floods.
Upland areas including Salisbury Plain, South Downs and North Downs are set to be the worst affected by the downpours, and the Met Office has issued an amber warning in these parts urging locals to 'be prepared'.
A yellow warming for rain is in place across the rest of southern England and Wales meaning that people living in these areas should 'be aware'.
And winds of up to 40mph are set to batter the south coast, potentially bringing dangerously high waves and wreaking fresh damage to these storm-hit areas.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has said that the severe weather had caused damage to the transport network and sea defences as well as power lines.
Mr Pickles told the Commons that the Government would provide £130 million for emergency repairs and maintenance. Prime Minister David Cameron will chair a meeting of the Government's Cobra emergency committee later today, Mr Pickles said.
A yellow warming for rain is in place across the rest of southern England and Wales meaning that people living in these areas should 'be aware'
Damage: People living in the Somerset Levels were today set for further misery as two severe flood warnings remained in place
Evacuation: Sandbags are left in the street in Moorland, Somerset, after residents were advised to leave their homes because of the rising flood waters
According to the Metro, a 75ft wave was recorded by a buoy close to Penzance. National Oceanography Centre experts have been trying to confirm the data, but if it is verified it could be the biggest wave ever recorded off the British Isles.
A stretch of railway track in Dawlish, Devon, has already been destroyed because of storms and experts are warning that further destruction could be on the way.
Speaking to the Today programme, Robin Gisby, managing director of network operations at Network Rail, said the train link will take weeks to repair.
He said: ‘It’s going to be several weeks – we haven’t been able to do a proper inspection.’
He added that the 80m hole in the wall which separated the train tracks from the sea had left the rest of the line exposed, and that it was all Network Rail could do to stop further damage.
Commenting on the recent spate of disruptive weather, Mr Gisby said: ‘It feels like we’re having one-in-a-hundred events every week at the moment.’
Pete Fox from the Environment Agency meanwhile said people face a 'conveyor belt of storms'.
Regarding sea walls in Dawlish, Devon, he told BBC Breakfast about 'the difficulty of dealing with a tidal situation where the tides are progressively coming in again and again'.
Danger: A dog walker tries to escape from the waves which have breached the sea wall in Ireland
Drenched: The walker and the dog are hit by the waves as they try to make their escape
He said: 'It really hampers efforts to repair. Our teams have been out in places like Helston, and further down the coast in Cornwall, overnight, doing work to try and repair and keep the water flowing, because we are facing this conveyor belt of storms coming to the south, south west of England.'
High winds are expected to lash the Channel tonight into tomorrow, potentially causing disruption to the popular ferry crossing route.
And there is little respite from the turbulent weather as, after a brief spell of sunshine tomorrow morning, fresh storms are set to hit.
A weather system developing off the Atlantic will sweep into Britain bringing up to 1.2 ins (30mm) of rain overnight tomorrow and into Saturday.
Severe gale force winds of up to 80mph are expected to hit southern Britain which could topple trees and cause more damage to the beleaguered region.
TRAIN LINK ALONG COAST WILL TAKE WEEKS TO REPAIR
Transport misery worsened for the people of Devon and Cornwall today, as it was revealed a vital train link battered by stormy seas will take weeks to repair.
Speaking to the Today programme, Robin Gisby, managing director of network operations at Network Rail, said: ‘It’s going to be several weeks – we haven’t been able to do a proper inspection.’
The added that the 80m hole in the wall which separated the train tracks from the sea had left the rest of the line exposed, and that it was all Network Rail could do to stop further damage.
Commenting on the recent spate of disruptive weather, Mr Gisby said: ‘It feels like we’re having one-in-a-hundred events every week at the moment.’
The warnings come as it is revealed that environment secretary Owen Paterson will not chair a meeting of the Government's Cobra emergency committee today.
The minister, whose response to the flooding crisis has been criticised, is to have surgery for a detached retina in his eye.
It is understood that communities secretary Eric Pickles will stand in for him.
David Cameron has defended Mr Paterson's handling of the flooding crisis, insisting he was 'absolutely on top' of the issue.
In an interview on BBC Manchester, the Prime Minister insisted the Government had been 'very proactive' in putting its emergency planning procedures into action as soon as the stormy weather hit.
When presenter Mike Sweeney questioned Mr Paterson's decision to view flooding in Somerset 'dressed for a ball at the Ritz, without his wellies', Mr Cameron responded: 'I completely disagree with what you said about Owen Paterson, who knows a lot about rural issues and the countryside. He sits for a rural seat. He is absolutely on top of those flooding issues.
'He went to visit the floods. He was not dressed as if he was going to the Ritz, he was dressed as if he was going to floods. He had a pair of wellies, but because he was harassed as soon as he got out of his car, he didn't have a chance to put them on. He didn't forget.
'Honestly, some of these things that get going on the media have to be challenged, because otherwise a lie is halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on, and that's a rather appropriate expression in these circumstances.'
The PM was critical of the Environment Agency's decision to cut back on dredging rivers over the past two decades.
'The fact is, since the Environment Agency was founded in the late 1990s, it took a view - and increasingly other organisations took a view - that dredging wasn't appropriate,' he said.
'I think that's wrong. I have a constituency that does flood frequently. I pushed for dredging and some dredging has taken place and it does make a difference.
'We've got to make sure that our system is focused on protecting people above all else, so some of the arguments against dredging have to be taken on and we need to start dredging again more systematically. The Environment Agency now accepts that.'
He added: 'The scale of these weather events and the scale of the flooding has shifted even more something that was beginning to shift anyway. The Environment Agency had taken a very anti-dredging view for many years. That was beginning to change and now it's changing faster, and that's something I welcome.'
Obliterated: Workmen assess a huge hole exposing ground services and exposed railway track after the sea wall collapsed in Dawlish, where high tides and strong winds created havoc yesterday
Slipping away: Furniture and possessions fall from a sea front home in Dawlish after the ground beneath it was literally swept out to sea
Rising water: A waterside bar is pounded by the waves in Plymouth yesterday as the south-west bears the brunt of the Atlantic storm that first hit overnight
The damaged railway line at Dawlish meanwhile is costing the regional economy 'tens of millions of pounds' every week, Labour's shadow transport secretary said today.
Mary Creagh urged the Government to set out a long-term plan to protect Britain's rail infrastructure from future damage after storms battered the South West.
Speaking during transport questions, she said: 'Freak weather is rapidly becoming the new normal in our country, and I understand the difficulties you have in giving a timescale for the Dawlish repairs, given further bad weather is forecast for Saturday.
'But every week that this line is closed costs the regional economy tens of millions of pounds, so can you keep the House updated and can you urgently and strategically look across the rail network at how we make the whole network - Wales, Northern Ireland, the North East and Scotland - more resilient against these future storms?'
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin replied: 'I can say simply in answer to your question - it must be the first time that anyone's been able to do this - yes.'
He added: 'I'm sure the whole House will want to join me in expressing sympathy to all those affected by the extreme weather conditions.
'An urgent priority is the railway at Dawlish. Colleagues will have seen the images of the devastating impact the weather has had on the railway there.
'I met with members of all parties in Devon and Cornwall yesterday evening, alongside Network Rail. The immediate priority is to assess the damage and develop a plan to get the line back into service as soon as possible. But I am acutely conscious that the need to develop a long-term solution to the resilience of the railway network in the South West, and I have asked for a report to me on the options for addressing this problem.'
Pictures have emerged of all that is left of a £60,000 sports car, abandoned by its owner when its engine stopped on a flooded road, after it was 'ripped to shreds' by thieves.
The 4.2 litre Audi RS5 was ditched on a road near a railway bridge approaching the M25 in Chertsey, Surrey, last month.
In the past two weeks the grey car, which would have cost £58m350 when new, has been stripped to just a shell by vandals.
Before: The Audi RS5 was ditched near a railway bridge approaching the M25 in Chertsey, Surrey, last month after its engine stopped on a flooded road
Attacked: Shortly after it was abandoned vandals smashed the rear windscreen of the car
All that is left: The car is now virtually unrecognisable after it was completely stripped by thieves
Council bosses in Fylde, Lancashire, trying to protect their coastline have saved hundreds of Christmas trees from the woodchipper and used them as sea defences.
A team of ten volunteers turned up to help council staff bury hundreds of discarded trees, which are being used to reinforce the sand dunes.
The measures will also help protect vulnerable homes and coastal roads by reducing the amount of sand blown into the highway from the beach.
A five-mile stretch of coastline along the Fylde Coast will benefit from the defences.
Geoff Willetts, Fylde Council's senior coast and countryside officer, said: 'Where there is no protection the sea has removed eight to 10 metres of dune - it is dramatic.'
Recycling staff at the council collected more than 700 trees this year and although some were sent to the wood-chipper, hundreds have been used to boost the sand dunes.
Alan Wright, of the Wildlife Trust, said: 'These trees are going to act as another line of defence against the really bad weather we have been having.'
Sea defence: Council bosses in Fylde, Lancashire, trying to protect their coastline have saved hundreds of Christmas trees from the woodchipper and used them as sea defences
Volunteers: A team of ten volunteers turned up to help council staff bury hundreds of discarded trees, which are being used to reinforce the sand dunes
Protection: The measures will also help protect vulnerable homes and coastal roads by reducing the amount of sand blown into the highway from the beach
A monument in Highland Perthshire has been felled by the rain after standing for almost 6,000 years.
Days of downpours proved to be too much for the Dane's Stone, which is believed to date back to the neolithic era or Bronze Age.
The megalith succumbed to the wet conditions and toppled over. Experts from Historic Scotland will now be assessing the damage
Householder Marianne Carruthers said she heard the stone hit the ground from over 50 metres away as she sat in her home in Moulin, near Pitlochry.
She said: 'I went to the window but couldn't see anything. Half an hour later that I noticed something was amiss and the stone just didn't seem to be there anymore.
'I actually took off my spectacles and cleaned them because I thought I was seeing things. I couldn't believe it.'
The impressive quartzite monolith was not damaged by the fall. Mrs Carruthers said that it seemed to be balanced on a pile of smaller stones.
She added: 'My son went over to have a closer look and he thought it had fallen over because of the wearing away of the soil.
'It seems to have been held in place by rocks wedged in beside it.'
Regarded as a scheduled ancient monument, the Dane's Stone stands at almost 2m tall and boasts a rich history.