THE wave of heavy rain and gales set to pound the UK this week has been dubbed “Storm Christoph” by meteorologists - with people warned to brace themselves for a period of very unsettled weather.

Some areas of the UK could see up to 200mm of rain over the first half of the week which, poses a serious risk of flooding in eastern parts.

In St Helens, heavy rain is forecast for tonight, Tuesday and Wednesday - meaning the Met Office has put a yellow weather warning in place, effectively for 60 hours of continuous rain.

Describing the national outlook, Met Office chief meteorologist Dan Suri said: “Following a cold spell where the main hazard was snow, our focus now turns to notably heavy rain moving across the UK this week.

“Some locations could see over 100mm of rain falling through the course of just a couple of days. with up to 200mm possible over higher ground.

“These amounts of rainfall along with snow melt present a real threat of flooding and people should keep a close eye on flood warnings from the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales.”

There is an amber weather warning for Tuesday and Wednesday for central northern England, affecting an area around Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield and stretching down to Peterborough.

Up to 70mm is expected to fall in that area but in isolated spots, particularly in the northern Peak District and parts of the southern Pennines, 200mm could be possible.

The warning says there is a “danger to life” due to fast-flowing or deep floodwater and a “good chance some communities cut off by flooded roads”.

The yellow rain alert is also in place for most of northern England and Wales from Tuesday to Wednesday, before most of the UK falls into the warning on Thursday.

The Environment Agency has issued 11 local flood warnings covering parts of Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire.

There are a further 61 flood alerts, meaning flooding is possible in the area, although the number is expected to increase significantly as the impact of the first heavy rain is felt overnight.

The Environment Agency has urged people living in those areas to prepare for the risk of significant flooding as early as Tuesday morning, as the heavy rain hits already saturated ground.

The RAC breakdown service has advised motorists to drive only if absolutely necessary during heavy rain and to avoid floodwater completely.

Ben Aldous, the RAC’s patrol of the year, said: “The best advice if you encounter water on the road is to turn around and find another route, unless you can be certain that it is shallow enough to drive through.

“At best, deep water could ruin a vehicle or land you with a heavy repair bill, at worst it could mean you’re putting your life, and those of the people who might have to come to your aid, in danger.”