Groundwater levels could put regions in the east and south west of England at risk of flooding as bands of rain stretch across the country in the first wet spell of the year.
Much of the country is set to experience rainfall across Thursday – with some heavy spots as a band of wet weather flows South East across the British Isles.
But despite falling short of the torrential downpours experienced in 2019, the first rain of 2020 could still cause flooding due to high groundwater levels soaked up over a wet autumn and winter period.
River levels are also likely to remain high in areas across the UK.
Despite 21 flood warnings and 38 flood alerts being issued across the south west and the east of England, the Environment Agency said the risk of flooding was still low.
Craig Woolhouse, Flood Duty Manager at the Environment Agency, said: “We are expecting conditions to be drier across England today and throughout the week, meaning that the risk of flooding is continuing to subside. There is potential for some rain on Thursday but the overall flood risk remains low.
“Groundwater levels remain high in parts of Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire and West Sussex. Local communities in these areas are asked to remain vigilant to the risks of flooding.
“While river levels are falling, they remain high – we will continue to monitor river levels closely and to operate our flood defences to help keep communities safe.
“We advise people to sign up for flood warnings, stay away from swollen rivers and not drive through flood water – just 30cm of flowing water is enough to float your car.”
Thursday’s rain is expected to be accompanied by wind and cloud – especially over northern Scotland – while much of England will remain dry until after dark having experienced temperature highs of 10 degrees across the south.
And as the week begins to draw to a close, the nation is expected to stay mostly dry and breezy, according to the Met Office. Temperatures meanwhile are expected to settle between six and ten degrees across the weekend.
Steve Ramsdale, the Met Office’s chief forecaster, said: “New Year’s Day will be largely dry but a front will bring some light rain into north-west Scotland, followed by a band of rain, some heavy, moving south-east across the UK during Thursday and Friday.”