This year is set to become the wettest on record in the UK, forecasters said last night, as flood-battered areas were warned they face renewed danger from storms bringing a wet and windy end to 2012.
Provisional figures show that just 1.8in (46mm) of rain is needed from December 27 to 31 for 2012 to be the wettest year on record for the UK overall, with a new record already set for England with 43.1in (1,095.8mm) falling between January 1 and Boxing Day, the Met Office said.
The UK as a whole has had 50.8in (1,291.2mm) of rain from January 1 to December 26, with the wettest year on record for the UK currently 2000, when 52.6in (1,337.3mm) fell.
A storm brewing in the Atlantic could bring up to 2in (50mm) of rain and 80mph (129kph) winds in some areas this weekend as bands of persistent rain move into and across England and Scotland.
The Environment Agency said the West should prepare to take the brunt of it, with many areas still saturated with water from before Christmas, when floods forced many to flee their homes.
The recent heavy rain, coupled with late-running engineering work and other problems, meant a miserable return to work for rail travellers yesterday.
First Great Western said the main line in the far South West, which has been closed since before Christmas because of flooding between Exeter and Tiverton, should reopen tomorrow.