Lancashire's emergency planners prepare for flooding ahead of 48 hours of torrential rain

Lancashire's emergency planners are bracing for widespread flooding as 48 hours of torrential rain hits the county.

Tuesday, 19th January 2021, 12:00 pm

The Met Office has issued warnings for heavy rain from the early hours of today (January 19) until midnight on Thursday as Storm Christoph bears down on Lancashire.

You can find the full forecast and more details on the Met Office warnings here.

With the warnings extending into Thursday, people are being warned to expect some disruption to travel, along with the possibility that homes and businesses in some vulnerable areas might experience flooding.

The Met Office has issued warnings for heavy rain from the early hours of today (January 19) until midnight on Thursday as Storm Christoph bears down on Lancashire
The Met Office has issued warnings for heavy rain from the early hours of today (January 19) until midnight on Thursday as Storm Christoph bears down on Lancashire

There are currently 10 flood alerts in place across Lancashire. You can find a full list here.

There is already reports of some flooding on the county's roads, including Blackpool Road in Preston (see video above).

In response, the county council's emergency planners have already been in touch with 'blue light' services, partner councils, utility companies, and voluntary sector organisations in case of major incidents.

Lancashire Police added that "road safety has been highlighted as a real priority" over the next 24 hours and is urging motorists to take "extra care on essential journeys".

Flood alerts are in place across Lancashire from Tuesday (January 19) to Thursday (January 21)

Highways staff have been busy checking locations which are vulnerable to flooding to make sure highway drains and trash screens are clear, and extra resources have been put on standby to help if needed.

These include highways staff and contractors who can quickly respond to incidents such as downed trees, or the need to divert traffic and close flood-hit roads.

Gully wagons are also on standby to clear debris which gets washed into highway drains during flooding.

Lancashire County Council said it also wants to remind people that up to 80% of reports received about problems with drains during severe weather are due to debris sitting over the top of grates, rather than a more serious maintenance issue.

It advises that, if it is safe to do so, clearing the debris which is plugging the grate can often resolve the issue and allow water to freely enter the drainage system.

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Storm Christoph: 10 flood alerts in place across Lancashire following heavy rain

The county council said it maintains over 300,000 roadside drains, with those most at risk of becoming blocked checked most often.

John Davies, head of highways, said: "We always respond to reports of flooding as quickly as we can, and whatever the problem our teams will do their best to help.

"Our teams have already been checking culverts and drains which are vulnerable to becoming blocked, and will be on standby to respond to any reports of flooding we receive.

"During heavy and persistent rain such as has been forecast this week we can expect there to be some surface water flooding, and I would ask people to be very careful on the roads.

"If you encounter a flooded road, please stop and turn around rather than put yourself at risk.

"As we have seen during past flooding incidents, the sheer volume of water can lead to drainage systems becoming overwhelmed, and it is often the case that the water will only be able to drain away once the storm has subsided and river levels have lowered, so I would also ask people to be patient.

"If people are worried that a highways drain has become blocked by debris it’s worth being aware that this can often be dealt with by brushing the debris aside and clearing it away.

"However, please only do this if it's safe as we would never want anyone to put themselves at risk.

"We do of course respond to all reports of flooding that we receive, but particularly when storms are ongoing we have to prioritise the most serious flooding issues."

For those in Preston, an hour-by-hour Met Office forecast for the city and wider area is available here.

If you can't clear a blocked drain yourself, or the problem doesn't appear to be caused by debris plugging the grate, you can report it online or by calling 0300 123 6701.