A Scottish town has declared a major flooding incident as it evacuated residents and forced schools and medical centres to close after rain continued to batter the north of the UK.
Residents in Hawick, just north of the border, have been told to leave their homes as the River Tweed and River Teviot swell amid heavy rainfall.
The Scottish Borders Council said that the Teviot will peak above 3m, "which could result in significant damage to properties in at risk areas of the town and pose a risk to public safety".
If the river bursts its banks, it could affect up to 500 properties, so senior officers from across the council, Police Scotland, NHS Borders and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service took the decision to declare a major incident in Hawick, which will be led by Police Scotland.
Plans to evacuate residents and businesses from properties likely to be affected are now being activated
The decision has been taken to close Trinity Primary School and Hawick High School and send pupils and staff home. Individual communications direct to parents have been issued.
NHS Borders has taken the decision to close Teviot Health Centre and all services that operate within the Health Centre.
The Council has reopened the rest centre at Teviotdale Leisure Centre at 2pm to provide assistance to those displaced by the risk of flooding.
Schools in the Peebles area - some 30 miles north of Hawick - also closed early on Thursday afternoon.
Chief Inspector Vinnie Fisher, Local Area Commander for the Scottish Borders said: "We have been monitoring the situation with the weather in the Borders closely as the day has progressed and we have now made the decision, alongside our partners, to declare a major incident and have begun evacuating various residents around the River Teviot from their properties.
"We are working with our colleagues at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Scottish Borders Council to safely move all of those affected and ensure they are appropriately accommodated for the time being.
"I would urge the public to avoid travel within the region unless absolutely necessary and to pay attention for more information as we continue to respond to this matter."
Life-threatening floods set to hit parts of England and Scotland
The Met Office has warned of life-threatening flooding as it issued amber weather warnings for rain in parts of England and Scotland.
Glasgow - as the city prepares for the COP26 climate summit - has been deluged by heavy rain, leaving cars stranded in roads.
Meanwhile Cumbria is being lashed with "persistent and heavy rain", which is not likely to ease until Thursday night, the service said.
Up to 300mm is expected to fall in parts of the region, which typically sees an average of 160mm in October.
"In a 24-hour period you could see a month's worth of rain," Met Office meteorologist Annie Shuttleworth said, describing the weather as "notable".
"The rainfall total is much higher than the average rainfall for this time of year, definitely, and in general, for any time of year it's a lot of rainfall in a short period of time," she told the PA news agency.
Dumfries and Galloway in south-west Scotland are also being battered by downpours, lasting until 9am on Thursday.
The Met Office said there could be a "danger to life from fast-flowing or deep floodwater".
The amber alerts also warn of potential damage to homes and businesses from flooding, dangerous driving conditions and travel disruption.
Communities could be cut off by flooded roads and face power cuts, according to the service.
UK flooding, in pictures
Welcome to #cloudburst #glasgow eve of #COP26 - a major artery closed due to pluvial flooding, night shift can’t get to the hospital, cars abandoned, no police so prof by day traffic Marshall by night! #notthisfuture let’s agree #netzero now @BorisJohnson @NicolaSturgeon @UofGGES pic.twitter.com/kf5fIVXzKL
— Larissa Naylor (@biogeomorph) October 27, 2021
What does life-threatening flooding mean?
Persistent, heavy rain leading to flooding and disruption.
What to expect:
Homes and businesses flooded and damage to some buildings
Danger to life from fast flowing or deep floodwater
Delays or cancellations to train and bus services
Spray and flooding leading to difficult driving conditions and some road closures
Some communities cut off by flooded roads
Power cuts and loss of other services to some homes and businesses
"These are exceptional rainfall totals for even the wettest part of the UK, which is Cumbria on average, and for the wettest part of the year," Met Office meteorologist Aidan McGivern said in a forecast video.
Want to know what the weather has in store for us over the next 10 days? Here's Aidan with all the details 👇 pic.twitter.com/dcFX71utwI
— Met Office (@metoffice) October 27, 2021
Nineteen flood alerts and warnings issued
The Environment Agency issued four flood warnings, meaning flooding is expected, as well as 15 flood alerts, meaning flooding is possible, with the number expected to rise significantly as rain falls overnight.
Ben Lukey, flood duty manager at the government department, said: "A slow-moving band of heavy and persistent rain could bring surface water and river flooding and disruption to travel, to communities in Cumbria and parts of the north of England from today (Wednesday) through to Friday and Saturday.
"Working with our partners in local resilience forums, Environment Agency teams have been out on the ground clearing waste grilles and screens, and stand ready to operate flood defences if needed.
"They are also ready to support local authorities in their response to surface water flooding.
"We are urging residents and visitors, especially holidaymakers in the Lake District, to stay alert and check their flood risk by signing up for free flood warnings on the Gov.uk website and via @EnvAgency on Twitter, which offer the latest updates."
Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service said residents should "be alert to the dangers of flood water".
"Never enter flood water on foot or in a vehicle. Call 999 if life is at risk - we're here to help," the service tweeted.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) tweeted: "Heavy and persistent rain across southern Scotland overnight into Thursday is likely to lead to river & surface water flooding in eastern Dumfries & Galloway & western Scottish Borders - expect flooding of low-lying land & travel disruption."
The agency issued seven flood warnings and three flood alerts.
Train services hit by flooding
Network Rail said speed limits and reduced services would be in place on some routes between Wednesday and Friday, with disruption to the West Coast Mainline.
Passengers travelling between Glasgow or Edinburgh and Carlisle are being advised to travel only if the journey is "absolutely necessary".
Liam Sumpter, Network Rail Scotland route director, said: "Extreme rainfall can pose a serious risk to the railway, causing landslips or damaging our infrastructure and bridges.
"The safety of our passengers and colleagues is our main priority during periods of poor weather, and slowing services down and running fewer trains will help us manage these conditions for everyone."
The rain lashing the UK is due to a stream of warm moist air that has moved up from the tropics, Ms Shuttleworth said.
On Thursday, south-west England and Wales are forecast to be hit, with a yellow weather warning for rain across much of Wales until Friday afternoon.
Some disruption is expected, particularly in the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia, though not as widespread or impactful as other affected areas of the UK, according to the Met Office.
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