Flood warnings across England and Wales as heavy rain falls on ‘saturated ground’

<span>A closed road in Charvil, Berkshire, due to high water levels. Travel is likely to be disrupted, forecasters said.</span><span>Photograph: Geoffrey Swaine/Rex/Shutterstock</span>
A closed road in Charvil, Berkshire, due to high water levels. Travel is likely to be disrupted, forecasters said.Photograph: Geoffrey Swaine/Rex/Shutterstock

Flood warnings are in place across several parts of England as Wales as heavy rain falling on already “saturated ground” caused disruption to roads and railway lines.

The Met Office issued three yellow weather warnings for rain covering most of southern, south-western, central and eastern England as well as parts of south Wales on Thursday.

The Environment Agency put in place more than 70 flood warnings, meaning flooding is expected, and more than 250 less-severe flood alerts in England. National Resources Wales issued one flood warning and 22 alerts.

A yellow warning for wind was also in place for London and southern England on Thursday, with gusts predicted to reach 60-70mph, though all Met Office warnings were in place for Friday onwards.

In Herefordshire and Worcestershire several schools have closed because of rising flood levels and “treacherous road conditions”, councils in the areas said.

Many roads across the West Midlands in particular have been submerged and rail operators have been working to resolve issues on the tracks. Transport for Wales and West Midlands Railway services are operating a replacement bus service between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton.

CrossCountry services between Birmingham New Street and Cheltenham Spa have reopened after earlier flooding, though trains may still be cancelled or delayed. The route between Worcester Foregate St and Hereford has also been affected.

Great Western Railway (GWR) said flooding had disrupted services between Plymouth and Newton Abbot, with CrossCountry trains from Penzance also affected.

The Met Office’s shipping forecast has issued 20 gale warnings for sea areas including Viking (an area between Norway and the Shetland Islands), Plymouth, Thames, Wight and Dover.

Red Funnel Ferries has said that high winds could cause disruption to its service between Southampton and West Cowes on Thursday, while WightLink ferry journeys between Portsmouth and Fishbourne have either been cancelled or pushed back by four hours.

In Cornwall, St Mawes Ferry, which links St Mawes with Falmouth, has been cancelled because of “adverse sea conditions and strong winds”, while the ferry between Flushing and Falmouth is “not running today due to the strong winds”.

The Environment Agency has also issued 45 red cautions for strong streams, advising users of all boats not to navigate.

Grahame Madge, a Met Office spokesperson, said: “The current forecast contains a typical mix of winter weather, including strong winds and heavy rain. In themselves, these conditions aren’t exceptional. But, following on from significant amounts of rainfall across February, then the cumulative effect means that river catchments are more sensitive to additional rainfall.”

A yellow warning is in place for the West Midlands, south Wales and south-west England, with some areas forecast to receive 20-30mm of rain, according to the Met Office.

It comes as 12-hour rainfall totals on Wednesday reached 68mm in Whitebarrow on Dartmoor and 63mm at Coniston Coppermines, Cumbria.