The heavy rain and stormy winds that battered the region this afternoon are expected to return in force on Friday in what is billed as becoming the wettest winter in 250 years.

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After a brief respite tomorrow, when dry and breezy conditions are hoped to dry the saturated land, more downpours and gale force winds are predicted for Suffolk and Essex throughout Friday afternoon and evening.

Norman Robinson from the Environment Agency advised: ‘People really need to keep an eye on the forecast and local conditions as we move into the weekend.

“We could have up to 20mm of rain over already wet ground so river levels will rise again and flood plains will get wetter.

“Travel across the region could be difficult and dangerous in places.’

“The east of England, although exceptionally wet, has been fortunate in that less rain has fallen here than elsewhere.”

Forecasters are predicting winds gusting up to 70mph to pummel the region late on Friday.

“There’s going to be heavy rain in the afternoon and late into the evening with some very strong winds that could become severe gales again,” said Jim Bacon, a managing director at Weatherquest.

“There could be some storm force winds from a westerly and southerly direction and some very severe weather on Friday night.”

Mr Bacon said it was “very difficult” to make exact predictions while the low weather front was still forming on the other side of the Atlantic, though he has warned of trouble ahead.

“It can’t be very pleasing with the people who are already struggling to cope with today’s wind and rain to know there’s another front close on its heels to come on Friday,” he said.

The Environment Agency is not expecting water levels on the same scale as in the west of the country, though it was still likely to be “extremely wet”.

‘There could be isolated pockets where homes and businesses flood from surface water or rivers, so people really do need to keep an eye on the local situation,” Mr Robinson added.

“If you’re at all concerned, make sure you check Flood Warnings on our web site regularly, and if you think you or your neighbours might be at risk, take action in good time.”

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