Heavy rain creates risk of fresh floods

10:00am Thursday 27th December 2012

By Freddie Whittaker

OXFORDSHIRE remains on the brink of further flooding with the county facing torrential downpours today.

Bursts of rainfall yesterday and overnight have left water course levels high across the county.

Flood warnings and alerts were still in place on dozens of rivers and tributaries last night, and surface-level flooding has already been reported in a number of areas.

Last night, Ferry Hinksey Road in West Oxford saw surface flood water but there were no reports of flooded homes in the areas struck by the downpours in November.

Barry Russell, from the Environment Agency, said: “We have a number of flood warnings and alerts in place from Buscot right down to Goring and Streatley. We’ve been in the incident room managing the incidents for a few days and the forecast is such that it looks like we’re going to be in there for some time.

“Rain looks like the staple diet for the time being.”

Heavy rainfall at the end of November led to road closures and homes flooding in areas including Oxford’s Abingdon Road, Witney and Abingdon.

Mr Russell said the saturated ground had not had a chance to recover from the last bout of serious flooding.

Oxford saw short bursts of rain on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

If further rainfall is more sustained, rivers are at risk of flooding.

Mr Russell said: “The water levels have been high for some time now.

“The big problem here is the ground. It hasn’t had the chance to recover, so the rain is just ending up in the water courses and they can’t cope. We’re not saying they are going to rise, the rainfall we are getting is not high quantities, but the rivers will remain high.”

He added: “It’s really up to the weather what happens next, although if we did see some very heavy downpours then further flooding would be likely.”

Met Office forecaster Mark Wilson said heavy rain was likely to hit Oxfordshire this morning and on Saturday. He said: “Cloud will start to thicken from the west, and that will hold a pretty wet picture in the area from around 7am.

“That wet weather will continue throughout most of the morning, and some of that rain will be on the heavy side, possibly even torrential.”

He said Friday would be a drier, but windy day, with heavier showers expected overnight into Saturday.

Mr Russell said the main danger posed by further heavy rain would be surface-level flooding.

He said: “It’s likely to cause surface water issues, things like standing water and water on roads.

“It would take a couple of days of fairly heavy rain for us to see any reaction from the Thames.”

Flood defences remain in place in certain locations in Oxford, including near Osney Island.

Yesterday, the Cherwell was at 2.61m at Kings Mill, and the Thames was at 0.68m at Iffley Lock, both measurements which spark a risk of flood warnings from the EA.

Today’s predicted rainfall is 5-10mm.


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