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After snow, rain, hail and gales test West Country emergency services

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: January 28, 2013

Emergency services in Dorset have been busy with more rain expected tonight

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Heavy rain and thawing snow and ice brought floods back to the West over the weekend – and gales and rain will follow today.

The Environment Agency had around 80 flood warnings and more than 320 flood alerts in place nationwide yesterday, with river levels expected to swell further as successive bands of rain sweep the country. Rising temperatures of up to 12C sparked a rapid thaw of the snow and ice which has built up in the recent cold snap, further exasperating potential flooding problems.

In West Dorset, firefighters were called out on Saturday to rescue occupants of a car trapped in nine inches of flood water at Melplash, near Bridport. Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service were called to several properties in the Chard and Ilminster area of South Somerset on Saturday, while at 7.10am yesterday they were called to help an elderly resident of Old Wells Road, Shepton Mallet, after six inches of water poured into his home. The crews cleared a blocked culvert outside the house.

Meanwhile, thousands of acres of farmland in the West are still under water following the torrential rains of November.

Paul Knightley, a forecaster for MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said most areas of the country saw between 5-10mm of rain on Saturday, but parts of the south west, Wales and Cumbria have seen 20-30mm in just a couple of hours.

Gusts of up to 60mph are expected to hit the west coast today before “severe” stormy weather is forecast for western areas and Scotland by Wednesday. But there will be no early return of the snow which closed hundreds of schools across the region last week. The maximum temperature in the region today is expected to be 11 degrees Celsius.

Emergency services responded to crashes on the M4 in south Wales shortly after a large hailstorm yesterday. Police said one of the incidents involved five cars. Eight people were injured in the crash on the eastbound carriageway between Margam, near Port Talbot, and Pyle, near Bridgend. Firefighters were called to two other crashes nearby within 45 minutes. Heavy snow storms on Friday night into Saturday left hundreds of people stranded for hours on motorways in the north of England. A family had to be evacuated when the gable end of their house collapsed, apparently under the weight of fresh snow in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.

Have you been affected by the weather this week? Tweet us your photos and views.

Click here for the latest Dorset weather forecast.

Take a look at our photo gallery of flooding in Dorchester last year.

Take a look at our photo gallery of flooding in Blandford Forum last year.

Have a look at video footage of flooding in Blandford and Dorchester.

Click below to keep up to date with flood warnings issued by the Environment Agency.

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