Yorkshire one of the areas most at risk of heavy rain and flooding this weekend

Rivers across Yorkshire will be monitored for flood risk this weekend as the North of England prepares for another heavy deluge, a senior Environment Agency official has revealed.

Friday, 21st February 2020, 5:37 pm
Updated Friday, 21st February 2020, 5:38 pm

The Environment Agency (EA) Deputy Director Craig McGarvey said today that northern England had a higher risk of flooding than anywhere else in the country, with Yorkshire and the Pennines at the greatest risk.

The warnings come as Yorkshire braces for the third successive weekend of storms, with almost continuous wet weather over the past fortnight meaning England has seen 141 per cent of its average February rainfall so far.

Spells of heavy rain over the weekend could lead to further flooding in parts of the North and the Midlands and Mr McGarvey insisted all rivers across Yorkshire are being monitored but singled out the River Ouse in York and North Yorkshire as being at particular risk.

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Passers by look over at an abandoned car in a flooded car park as water levels in the River Ouse in York. Photo credit: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images.

"The message is across England, the North of England is at highest risk with the rainfall so Yorkshire and the Pennines is a big flood risk area this weekend," he said.

"It's a big, broad swathe of rain and we will be monitoring all the rivers across Yorkshire.

"We will keep an eye on all the rivers but rivers like the Ouse have still got a lot of water in them."

The EA said there were two severe flood warnings across England, meaning there is an immediate risk to life, with 72 flood warnings and 140 flood alerts. There was also one flood warning and three flood alerts in Wales.

The highest river levels on record have been recorded on the Rivers Colne, Ribble, Calder, Aire, Trent, Severn, Wye, Lugg and Derwent.

Mr McGarvey said the preparations already carried out meant the North of England is "ready for the river levels to come back up again," but said extra precautions have been taken, in particular at Pateley Bridge in North Yorkshire after heavy rainfall from Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis.

"We have had people up at Pateley Bridge just making sure the defences haven't been damaged because during Storm Ciara the water level was only a few centimetres away from the top of the defences," he said.

"We are not forecasting levels like that at Pateley Bridge over the weekend but we had to double check because we have to make sure that everything is ready for more rainfall if we get it."

Mr McGarvey also urged Yorkshire residents near rivers, or at risk of flooding, to remain vigilant and take individual responsibility to be prepared.

"I would encourage land owners and house owners who are at flood risk to make sure that they have got their own plans for dealing with the flooding situation," he said. "This means that they know what they are going to do and where they are going to run their belongings to, such as animals or live-stock.

"Everyone needs to be alert for the next few days to any weather forecasts or flood warnings."

Despite the deluge parts of Yorkshire has suffered in recent weeks, Mr McGarvey stressed that Yorkshire was a priority area for receiving government help and aid in the future.

He said: "We are doing our best to invest in Yorkshire and reduce the risk and with the climate emergency we need to keep doing more and the Government have pledged another four billion pounds over the next five years and we know that Yorkshire will be getting a large chunk of that money to reduce flood risk."

Caroline Douglass, director of incident management at the EA, added: "Flooding has a long lasting and devastating impact on people's lives, and our thoughts remain with all those who have been flooded and continue to feel the impacts of the persistent wet weather.

"With the effects of climate change, we need to prepare for more frequent periods of extreme weather like this.

"People need to be aware of their flood risk, sign up to flood warnings, make a flood plan and not to drive or walk through floodwater."