Huge swathes of the UK including Yorkshire are braced for a deluge of rain which could pour more misery on communities still reeling from flooding after Christmas.
The remnants of storm Jonas, which blanketed much of the east coast of America in deep snow, have begun to sweep in from the Atlantic, prompting widespread weather and flood alerts.
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss has chaired an emergency meeting in order to co-ordinate the Government’s response to the expected rainfall, which could be as much as 100mm (3.9ins) in hilly areas.
Warnings are in place across Wales, Scotland, Lancashire, Cumbria, Yorkshire and Devon and Cornwall, many of which were saturated during the wettest December on record.
Scores of flood alerts were in place on Tuesday morning and the Environment Agency (EA) said areas already affected by record river levels, including Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire, were likely to be at risk of flooding as heavy rain throughout Tuesday and into Wednesday could cause river levels to rise and drains to flood.
The Met Office has issued yellow warnings for heavy rain and severe gales in these areas, with forecasters predicting around 30 to 50mm of rain in most areas. Parts of Scotland are likely to face winds of up to 70mph.
Laura Caldwell, a forecaster at MeteoGroup, said heavy rain had hit western Scotland and north-west England overnight.
She said: “Between 10 and 25mm fell in a few hours overnight in those areas and through the course of today the rain will sweep across most of the UK. Southern Scotland, the west of England and Wales will be particularly affected.
“This is the remnants of storm Jonas. The warmer, very moist, tropical air is bringing in this potentially very high rainfall.”
Ms Truss, who chaired a COBR committee last night, said the military were on standby and pumps had been deployed in order to deal with any flooding as she attempted to reassure “anxious” flood-hit communities.
A second band of heavy rain is forecast for Friday, according to the Met Office, with yellow warnings already in place for parts of Scotland, Northern Ireland, north-east England and Wales.
Lancashire, Cumbria and Yorkshire were some of the worst affected last month by Storm Desmond, which ruined thousands of homes and businesses and forced residents to leave flooded properties.