Southern, south-west, central and eastern England particularly at risk

Heavy rain and high winds are sweeping across England today and overnight, bringing an increased risk of flooding from swollen rivers and surface water on roads to many parts of the country.

The Met Office has warned of damaging gusts of wind of up to 85mph along some of the south-eastern coasts tonight, and 90mph later tomorrow in western Scotland and the northern isles.

The Environment Agency has issued 16 flood warnings – which require immediate action – and a further 160 warnings of possible floods. Nine of the flood warnings are in the south west.

So far 5,000 homes in the south west have been left without power.

The Environment Agency urged people who will be away from home for the festive period to check the flood risk for their local area and take necessary steps to protect valuable items left at home.

Met Office chief forecaster Andy Page said: “A rapidly deepening area of low pressure is developing to the west of Ireland and is forecast to pass just to the north-west of the UK overnight and on Tuesday.

“This will bring stormy conditions to the UK, with the strongest winds likely along coastlines exposed to the south on Monday night and for Northern Ireland, the north and north-west of Scotland on Tuesday. This brings the potential for possible disruption to transport because of the strong winds and also localised flooding in some areas.”

The Environment Agency also reiterated a warning not to drive through floodwater after a joint poll with the AA found 54% of UK licence holders would endanger themselves by driving through moving flood water.

The research also found 27% of the 21,165 respondents would drive through moving flood water deeper than 30cm, which is enough to move a car.