April deluge 'won't halt drought'

The Environment Agency said five flood warnings remain in place in south-west England

The Environment Agency said five flood warnings remain in place in south-west England

First published in National News © by

Most of the UK has faced heavy showers - but this month's deluge of rain will not be enough to avert a drought across parts of the country.

There were scattered showers across almost all of Britain, with persistent rain in west Wales and Scotland, forecasters said. Parts of the North East also saw heavy downpours, resulting in 0.5in (13mm) of rain over six hours in Durham and 0.4in (10mm) in Shap in Cumbria.

Nick Prebble, forecaster at the MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "There are still some fairly slow moving heaving downpours all over the country. Throughout April we have seen 175% more rain than would be normal, totalling 94.3mm (3.7in)."

However, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said the rain would not avert the drought and water companies were right to impose a hosepipe ban. She told MPs the Government was well prepared for this summer's drought as they had "seen it coming".

But Labour warned there could be a shortage of drinking water as more people were relying on bore holes in their gardens.

The Environment Agency has issued eight flood warnings for south-west England after some areas saw up to 2in (50mm) of rain between Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

But speaking in the House of Commons, Ms Spelman said this month's deluge did not make up for the last two dry winters. And people should keep their umbrellas to hand as the rain is not set to let up any time soon, Mr Prebble said.

"The rain will be a little less widespread tomorrow, with heavy thundery showers contained to central and south-west England and showers on Saturday," he said.

"However there is quite a big rainfall coming on Sunday, with a band of persistent rain coming north-westwards from France which will have reached southern Scotland by the end of the day. Much of the east and west will see very heavy rain on Sunday and most, if not all, of the country will see some rain."

On Wednesday night, high winds tore through a town, blowing the roof from one home and damaging others in what residents described as a "mini tornado". Warwickshire Police said a number of properties suffered structural damage as winds battered Rugby from around 6pm.

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