A bank holiday soaking for Suffolk

IT has become something of a cliché to predict it will rain because it is a bank holiday - but the saying was unfortunately proven right yesterday as downpours soaked the region.

IT has become something of a cliché to predict it will rain because it is a bank holiday - but the saying was unfortunately proven right yesterday as downpours soaked the region.

The torrential rain led to events scheduled with the hope of sunny weather being a washout or abandoned altogether.

Roads had to be monitored as they became dangerously covered in water, while the Environment Agency issued flood alerts for some of the region's rivers.

High winds and heavy rainfall also caused havoc with overhead power lines, with more than 82,000 households and businesses in the East losing power.


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Some places saw a month's worth of rain between Sunday afternoon and yesterday morning, with 52 millimetres falling at Wattisham.

Forecaster Phil Garner, of East Anglian-based Weatherquest, said: “Generally there has been 40 to 50 millimetres of rainfall when the average is 52 millimetres for the month - so some places have had their month's rainfall in 24 to 36 hours.”

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Weather expert Ken Blowers, of Ipswich, estimated around two million tons of water had fallen on the town in 24 hours - the heaviest rain in six years.

Temperatures were also well below average with the best yesterday being around 10C while around 17C (63F) was usual for this time of year.

A depression coming in from the English Channel and then settling over the Continent was to blame, which caused colder northerly winds.

The Environment Agency was monitoring river levels yesterday and issued three flood warnings for the region. As flooding of homes and businesses was expected, people were advised to take precautionary measures.

These included the Wrentham watercourse from Wrentham to the coast and the Thorpeness Hundred River from Knodishall to Aldringham.

It also had nine of the less severe flood watches in place. People in these areas were told to be on alert as flooding of low-lying land and roads was forecast.

These included the River Deben from Debenham to Bromeswell and the River Lark from Clopton to Martlesham.

The rivers Minsmere and Yox from Sibton to Middleton were also under a flood watch as were the Blyth and Walpole Rivers, Chediston, Bramfield and Wrentham watercourses, and the Thorpeness Hundred River and River Ore from Framlingham to Blaxhall.

A spokesman for Suffolk police said at 1.30pm yesterday: “The Environment Agency tells us that river levels are likely to rise over the next 12 hours and the forecast is for light rain.”

He said flooding was reported on a number of roads in the eastern area of the county, including the B1069 at Friston, Landseer Road in Ipswich, Martlesham Road in Little Bealings, Penzance Road in Kesgrave and the A146 at the Barnby Bends at Beccles.

The A12 at the junction between Foxhall Road and Dobbs Lane, Southwold Road in Blyford, Halesworth Road in Redisham and St Peter South Elmham were also reportedly flooded.

Police, alongside the highways authority, also had to warn oncoming motorists of flooding and put up signs at Stone Street in Crowfield, Chediston, Hemingstone and Case Lane, Bentley.

The weather forced the cancellation of the Framlingham Gala, while in Essex Hospital Radio Colchester had to abandon its annual fun day in the town's Castle Park yesterday.

Organisers cancelled the event yesterday morning as torrential rain and high winds hit the county. It is not yet known whether the fun day will be rescheduled for later in the summer.

In Bury St Edmunds, hundreds of people visited the annual Continental and Flower Market - although umbrellas were a must for those perusing the stalls.

A spokesman for EDF Energy said it had experienced higher than normal network incidents due to the high winds and heavy rainfall in the East of England.

It had restored power to more than 78,000 customers across the network by 5pm yesterday but there were still around 4,000 affected by the adverse weather conditions.

In Suffolk, 589 customers lost power in Long Melford at about 6.40pm on Sunday night, with 19 customers still without power last night.

In Essex, five customers in Great Maplestead, 279 in White Colne, 51 in Thaxted and 23 in Mundon were still without power yesterday afternoon.

With the majority of the faults due to overhead cable damage, engineers were working since the early hours to restore power. Additional teams were brought in to assist and there were extra staff to deal with the higher than normal number of calls.

A spokesman said: “We recognise the inconvenience this can cause and are working as hard as we can to get everybody back on supply as soon as possible.”

The outlook for the rest of the week is changeable but milder, although it looks like there could be more rainy weather for the Suffolk Show.

The Environment Agency's floodline is on 0845 988 1188.

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