THE Environment Agency is closely monitoring weather forecasts for the next few days as the Met Office predicts heavy rainfall across the South East. There are currently 55 flood alerts in place across the region and river levels are expected to rise over the next few days and through the weekend.

Rain will continue to move through the South East this afternoon with up to 8mm expected across the region. A further band of heavy showery rain is expected tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday will see further spells of heavy rain going into Saturday morning, with totals of between 10 – 20mm of rain expected.

The Environment Agency is working hard to minimise any possible risk of flooding and is warning residents to take action now to reduce the risks and impacts. Teams have been out since the start of the week ensuring rivers are flowing freely and are clear of debris.

Many rivers remain above their usual winter levels following recent snow and rainfall, and ground is already saturated, so the impacts of any further rainfall will be carefully monitored. Residents should be prepared for further flood alerts and possible flood warnings to be issued as the rivers react, particularly across Hampshire and into Berkshire. Groundwater levels remain high in parts of Hampshire and Berkshire and the ongoing rainfall will continue to affect levels.

Boaters are also being strongly advised not to navigate on the Thames after two incidents of boats becoming stuck on weirs in Reading and Culham this week. Boaters owners are advised to make sure their vessels are moored securely where it is safe to do so and not to take unnecessary risks.

Across the South Coast low pressure will continue to sustain a moderate to large swell and high waves are expected through Wednesday and possibly Thursday, mostly affecting the Isle of Wight. We are expecting some overtopping, but no significant impacts are expected. In Medmerry there has been erosion of the shore and teams have been out since first light shoring up the frontage. Teams are also out in Shoreham, Lancing and Seaford reinforcing the shore line defences.

Alison Baptiste, Environment Agency Flood and Coastal Risk Manager, said: “It looks like it’s going to be wet for the rest of the week and into this weekend, with rain forecast across the region for the next five days. “Our teams are working hard to prepare and to make sure our professional partners are prepared. We have officers out checking flood defences and clearing any river blockages. We are receiving regular updates from the Met Office, and will continuously monitor river levels. “Now is a good time for anyone who lives in an area vulnerable to flooding to think about the precautions they can take to protect their properties, and we strongly urge people to sign up to flood warnings, keep a close eye on local weather forecasts. We also ask that people stay safe, by staying away swollen rivers and not attempting to drive through floodwater or taking their boats on to rivers.”

The Environment Agency provides a 24-hour flood warning service. Floodline Warnings Direct is a free service that sends messages directly to those signed up when flooding from rivers is possible in the areas where they live. Those in flood risk areas should sign up to the Environment Agency’s free flood warning system – the most immediate and localised source of information on flooding – by calling 0845 988 1188 or visiting