In the aftermath of Storm Henk, a deluge of heavy rain is pounding saturated ground, causing widespread flooding and travel disruption across England.
Residents in hundreds of flooded homes have been evacuated, and a major incident has been declared in Nottinghamshire.
The Met Office has issued a yellow rain warning for the south of England until 03:00 GMT on Friday.
On Thursday evening, there were 259 flood warnings in place in England, with two covering Wales.
Multiple train routes were closed due to heavy rain, with Great Western Railway advising passengers not to travel and South Western Railway expecting disruption to last until “at least the end of the day.”
Nottinghamshire County Council declared a major incident as a result of rising river levels along the Trent, which were expected to peak Thursday evening or early Friday. The council has warned that levels could approach the highest ever recorded in the year 2000.
It is advising residents in flood-prone areas to make preparations in case they are ordered to evacuate. Laurie Walker, chair of a residents’ association for a flood-affected Nottingham over-55s estate, described the flooding as “like a river outside their front doors.”
Nottinghamshire County Council reported that “well over a hundred properties” in the county had flooded, with more expected overnight and Friday.
Submerged areas include Worcestershire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Shropshire, Gloucestershire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, North Yorkshire, and Sussex.
There were 259 active flood warnings – meaning flooding is expected – across much of England at 22:00 GMT, with two in Wales. There were also 338 flood alerts in place across England and Wales, indicating that flooding was possible.
According to BBC Weather Presenter Ben Rich, 2024 has “gotten off to an exceptionally wet start.”
He said that parts of eastern England received nearly all of their average January rainfall in the first few days, while many other areas received well more than half of what they would normally expect for the entire month.
“This means that river catchments are full and the ground is saturated – and saturated ground cannot absorb any more moisture,” he explained, resulting in flooding.
The worst of the rain fell in the south of England on Thursday evening, where “rain has been coming down hard and fast,” he added.
Residents in flood-prone areas should take action by turning off gas, water, and electricity supplies, moving items upstairs, and moving family, pets, and cars to higher ground, according to the Environment Agency, which covers England.
Train services on the Gatwick Express, Southern, and Thameslink networks may be canceled or delayed, according to National Rail.
Due to the heavy rainfall forecast on the already flooded ground, Great Western Rail, which connects London with south-west England and south Wales, advised passengers not to begin their journeys by rail.
Due to flooding on the tracks during Storm Henk, the train company’s direct route between Swindon and Bristol Parkway remains closed.
On Thursday, South Western Railway (SWR) announced the cancellation of several services. It urged passengers traveling on Friday to check ahead of time because the disruption on Thursday was expected to disrupt services.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has issued a cold weather warning for all of England, effective Saturday and lasting until next Tuesday.
According to the forecast, after a “period of mild and unsettled weather,” higher pressure entering the weekend would mean colder temperatures.
Storm Henk made landfall in the United Kingdom on Tuesday, bringing strong winds and heavy rain.
On Tuesday, an 87-year-old woman died after her car collided with a fallen tree in Crays Pond, Oxfordshire, according to Thames Valley Police. She died on the spot.
Because the fallen tree was reported an hour and a half before the collision, the force referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
According to Gloucestershire Police, a driver in his 50s was killed by a falling tree near the town of Kemble in the Cotswolds.
Local farms have also been severely impacted, with thousands of acres of crops and farmland submerged by Henk’s floodwaters.
Farmers are urging the government to invest more in rural river defenses to protect UK food production.