Weathermen warn: Don't venture outside on Sunday night


Last updated at 22:51 07 March 2008

Coastal regions around Britain risk being flooded when winter's biggest storm strikes early next week.

The warning came as it emerged that some of the highest tides of the year will coincide with the severe weather already predicted.

Forecasters said on Thursday that heavy rains and winds of up to 80mph will lash large parts of the country on Monday.

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Exceptional weather: Forecasters are predicting a damaging storm will hit on Monday

Yesterday, they also warned Britons to stay indoors tomorrow night when the gales are expected to begin and to avoid unnecessary journeys.

The unsettled weather is expected to climax on Monday morning around rush hour when the deepening low-pressure system swings east across the UK.

The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings for much of the UK on Monday.

Brian Golding, head of forecasting, said: "The arrival of this exceptionally deep area of low pressure is expected to coincide with spring tides on Monday, bringing the risk of flooding to western coasts from southern England to northern Scotland."

The storm also brings the risk of disruption to transport and power networks, with winds strong enough to uproot trees and damage buildings, said forecasters.

They warned it "could well be the strongest storm of the winter" but at this stage they are not predicting it will be as severe as that of October 1987.

Meteogroup forecaster Gareth Harvey said: "It looks as though it is going to be strong winds just about everywhere with severe gales in some places.

"We are sure trees will be uprooted and there will be some structural damage if it's as strong as expected."

The storm is forecast to develop from a strong jet stream moving out of Canada today and crossing the Atlantic and the UK during tomorrow and Monday.

The high winds are expected to ease during Monday but increase again in the evening, with fierce gusts after dark in the west and south.

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It's pouring: Heavy rain and severe gales are expected across the country

The combination of the storm and high tides means there is a risk of flooding from parts of Sussex in the south, through Devon, Cornwall and south-west Wales right up to the Outer Hebrides.

Tides are always higher at this time of the year as the spring equinox - when day and night are of equal length - approaches. This year's equinox is on March 20.

The spring tides have already led the Environment Agency to put part of north Cornwall from Land's End to Hartland Point on flood watch.

The area from Land's End to Plymouth is already being monitored. Exposed areas and those where the beach has no sea defences are at greater risk.

Last night, an Environment Agency spokesman said: "We are monitoring the situation very closely. It's very much a case of wait and see, but we urge people to check weather warnings on local radio and TV bulletins."

Floodline on 0845 988 1188 has the latest flood warnings.