Storm Christoph batters Britain as delivery driver rescued from van roof

Weather warnings issued as parts of the country prepare for two months’ worth of rain in two days

A stranded supermarket delivery van at Westgate, north east England, Wednesday Jan. 20, 2021, after the driver was rescued on Tuesday evening by the Fire and Water Rescue Service from the top of his van. Heavy rain, widespread flooding, gales and snow is expected to hit  parts of the UK. (Owen Humphreys/PA via AP)
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Parts of Britain will experience two months’ worth of rain in only two-and-a-half days as Storm Christoph sweeps across the country.

Forecasters have issued a yellow weather warning from Wednesday until Thursday with flooding and strong winds forecast.

In northern England on Tuesday, a delivery driver was rescued from the roof of his vehicle after it became trapped by surging water levels in Weardale, Co Durham.

Emergency teams were called to the scene and used a raft to help him to safety. The man looked “distressed and panicked” according to one witness and was taken to hospital as a precaution.

The Met Office's most serious weather warning – amber for rain – has been in place across parts of the Midlands and northern England since Tuesday morning, while a less serious yellow warning is in place across the rest of England, parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

“It’s not a traditional sort of storm, it’s going to be windy but it’s not based on the wind strength at all, it’s really down to the disruption that’s being caused by rain,” said Met Office forecaster Simon Partridge.

epa08951425 A farm on the bank of the River Wye in the Monsal Valley has its fields flooded as storm Christoph brings heavy rains across Britain, 20 January 2021.  EPA/PETER POWELL
A farm on the bank of the River Wye in the Monsal Valley has its fields flooded as Storm Christoph drenches Britain. EPA.

“There are parts of Cumbria that have already seen over 80 millimetres of rain since midnight on Tuesday and there’s a large number of places that have seen 50mm, and we are going to see further rain over the next 24 to 36 hours.”

Honister Pass in Cumbria recorded 77mm of rain between midnight and 6pm on Tuesday, the Environment Agency said.

Mr Partridge said the storm meant that some areas could see double the average amount of monthly rainfall over a few days.

“Those areas that have seen between 50mm and 70mm already, the warning is out until midday on Thursday, so an extremely long period, but by then we could see up to 150mm or possibly 200mm of rainfall,” he said.

“The Midlands, for example, their average rainfall total for the whole month is 73mm, so they could easily get double that in the course of two, two-and-a-half days.”

Floodwaters have already risen in parts of England, with a motorist pictured stranded in Leicester and workers in York preparing flood defences on Tuesday morning near the city’s River Ouse.

Transport was disrupted, with Network Rail reporting delays and line closures in the North West on Tuesday evening.

The storm has caused concern for people living in areas devastated by the floods at the end of 2019, who say they are preparing for the worst to happen again.

As of 5am on Wednesday, the Environment Agency had issued 37 flood warnings and 167 less serious flood alerts across England.

Major incidents were declared in Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire ahead of the expected heavy rainfall.

North Yorkshire County Council said more than 15,000 sandbags were at the ready around the county.

Meanwhile, Public Health England issued a cold weather alert from “first thing” on Thursday until 9am on January 25 for the north-east, north-west, Yorkshire and Humberside.