People across Britain are bracing themselves for worsening weather conditions overnight after forecasters predicted more heavy rain which has brought flooding chaos to parts of the UK.
It will compound misery for those in areas already suffering from severe floods following the downpours earlier this week, which forced hundreds to evacuate their homes and killed a driver.
Up to 40mm of rain is expected to fall in some areas by Sunday morning, with winds up to 70mph on the south coast and 60mph as far inland as London and the East Midlands. Some 48 flood warnings and 173 flood alerts are in place, with more likely to be issued throughout the weekend, the Environment Agency (EA) said.
The Met Office said heavy rain and strong winds were forecast across all parts of the country, with the heaviest and most persistent downpours in western England and parts of Wales.
River flooding is likely with the possibility of significant disruption, particularly across Devon, North Somerset, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Wales, the EA said. Nearly 400 properties have been flooded since Tuesday, while 9,000 homes and businesses have been told they are at risk of flooding, it added.
An EA statement said: "Strong winds will also increase the risk of flash flooding as drainage channels are likely to become blocked with wind-blown debris. The rain will spread north and east, increasing flood risk in north east and north west England on Sunday. The picture remains unsettled for the start of next week."
Emergency teams worked through the night to shore up defences, deploy temporary barriers, monitor river levels, clear blockages from watercourses and pump out flood water from towns. EA flood defences have protected 21,800 properties across England and Wales, including in Cheltenham, Teignmouth and Weston-Super-Mare.
Brendan Jones, senior meteorologist at MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said the stormy weather is likely to continue into early next week: "This weekend's predicted storm is now well-developed and is looming to the south-west of the UK. Rainfall amounts will increase rapidly through the rest of today and into tonight with as much as 30-40mm of rain expected in some areas.
"As well as the heavy rain, strong winds are still expected with southern and eastern parts of England worst affected. The winds are likely to be at their peak between midnight tonight and midday tomorrow, gradually shifting from the south coast of England to parts of East Anglia during this time. The highest gusts are likely to be in the region of 60 to 70mph along exposed coasts of the English Channel, from the Isle of Wight to Kent. Inland gusts of 50 to 60mph seem likely, as far north and west as London and the East Midlands."
Three elderly people had a lucky escape after being rescued from their car when it was swept down a swollen river in Warwickshire. The incident happened just off the A435 in Coughton Field Lane, Coughton near Alcester, at around 11.30am on Friday. The silver Corsa was carried for more than 500 yards before a local farm managed to secure the vehicle and bring it to the water's edge, West Midlands Ambulance Service said.