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Fresh flood warnings as THREE INCHES of rain expected to fall today to round off wettest year on record
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PUBLISHED: 05:30 EST, 28 December 2012 | UPDATED: 21:12 EST, 28 December 2012
Up to three inches of rain could fall today as 2012 goes out with a splash.
This will be followed by further downpours tomorrow night, forecasters warn. With the ground already saturated, there is a high risk of further flooding.
Last night 78 flood warnings were in place and a further 192 flood alerts were issued. The Environment Agency has told those travelling over the weekend to take extra caution and plan ahead.
A woman walks her dog alongside the River Thames at Laleham, Middlesex which is flooded due to rising river levels
Wet weekend: A family steel themselves against the freezing spray as waves crash against the coast in Southsea, Portsmouth, today
Watch out! Downpours are set to lash Britain again this weekend, with ice, snow and storms tearing across the country
Water wheels: A cyclist ploughs through deep floodwater in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, as walkers discuss how to keep their feet dry
Fields of silver: A church stands just high enough to be untouched by the floodwater filling the field below in Fotheringhay, Northants
But the New Year finally promises some respite. It means most people should have clear skies for their New Year's Eve fireworks, and from Tuesday onwards only occasional showers are forecast, with several dry days.
The Met Office has already confirmed 2012 as the wettest year in England since records began in 1910 – and the threatened storms are likely to confirm it as the wettest for all of Britain.
Less than two inches of rain is needed for the record to be broken, remarkable considering much of the country was in drought in March with huge swathes subjected to hosepipe bans.
And after heavy overnight rain, there will be further blustery downpours this morning.
Experts warn that the North West can expect up to three inches of rain, while other areas can expect up to an inch.
Library day: Magdalen College cricket pitch is flooded in Oxford after heavy rains
Not going anywhere! Flooding in the Worcestershire village of Severn Stoke has cut the area off from the main road
Wellies at the ready: A woman walks her dog alongside the River Thames at Laleham, Middlesex, after the barrier was raised fro the first time in two years
Dry skies ahead: Aerial view of the floods in Goring on Thames from Lardon Chase, Oxfordshire
In the past 10 days, 520 properties have flooded across the country. High ground water levels have meant that even places such as Common Moor, near Liskeard – one of Cornwall's highest communities above sea level – have been put at risk.
Flood defences have so far protected more than 21,000 properties across England and Wales, including 4,000 properties in Cornwall, while the Environment Agency's Floodline has received 28,000 calls.
Pete Fox, flood risk manager at the Environment Agency, said: 'We're urging people, particularly in north Wales and western England, to remain vigilant to flooding.
Churned up: A cyclist negotiates a road near the river at Staines-Upon-Thames, Middlesex
See, gull? A bird perches on top of a bench that will certainly not be of much use to humans
'If you're driving home this weekend, give yourself extra time to make your journey, check your route before travelling and avoid driving through floodwater.'
First Great Western said the main rail line in the South West, which has been closed since before Christmas because of flooding between Exeter St Davids and Tiverton, is expected to reopen today.
Met Office forecaster Dave Britton said: 'Heavier rain will return on Sunday evening, with a new band of wet weather from the west. New Year's Eve will see further outbreaks of rain, but after a sodden day, the early forecasts are for the rain to clear in the evening.
'By midnight, there will be a few localised showers, but much of the country can expect a largely dry night. So it looks like good news for fireworks displays. But it will be slightly chillier than previous nights, so people should dress up warm.
'Things are drier from midweek and it looks like we are going to get some respite in southern parts, where it is most needed. We should have a few days of mostly dry weather.'
Flooded Britain: Worcester cricket club remains under several foot of water after the River Severn and many of its tributaries have burst their banks
Swan lake: Worcester is one of many towns across the UK to suffer serious flooding after torrential rainfall in the last week
Soggy Christmas: Further heavy rain is expected to fall in many parts of the country today, followed by storms, sleet and even snow over the weekend
Under water: New bands of rain will sweep across Britain on Saturday and Sunday bringing heavy downpours
Shocking turnaround: Back in April, such widespread flooding barely seemed imaginable, with Britain gripped by the worst drought since 1976
Wet wet wet: 2012 is already the rainiest year on record for England, and just 1.8 inches away from being the rainiest ever seen for the whole of the UK, with four days of December to go
New beginnings: Atlantic storms will bring 75mph winds and further downpours sweeping across Britain this weekend - but hopes are high for a balmy 2013
From sunshine to rain: While 2011 (left) was exceptionally dry, 2012 (right) was England's soggiest year since 1910. (Brown areas are driest, while blue are wettest)
WHAT A WASHOUT! TOP TEN WETTEST YEARS IN HISTORY
|ANNUAL RAINFALL (mm)||YEAR|
Fresh deluge: A few brave walkers head out out on a wet and windy Brighton seafront as the south of England is again lashed with rain
Bright spot: One lone jogger splashes his way through the puddles on a characteristically soggy last few days of the year
A year of bad weather: The Met Office issued warnings for persistent rain and wind today and over the weekend, with the rain finally due to clear by Monday evening
Dangerous: The Environment Agency issued 266 flood warnings and alerts - now down to 255 - for Britain, particularly Wales and the South West