Storm Christoph: Two major incidents declared as storm heads to the UK

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Ben Chapman

A major incident has been declared in South Yorkshire and Greater Manchester as Storm Christoph is set to bring widespread flooding, gales and snow to parts of the UK.

A cold weather alert has also been issued.

The Met Office's most serious weather warning - amber for rain - has been in place since Tuesday and will last to Thursday for central northern England, affecting an area around Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield and stretching down to Peterborough.

Met Office spokesman Oli Claydon said that rain is “initially” the main concern but the picture will change as low pressure could introduce colder air.Mr Claydon described the situation as “a timeline of different hazards as we go through the week but the first hazard is certainly of rain and that’s reflected in the warnings at the moment”.

It has led to a major incident being declared in two areas in preparation for potential flooding.

Heavy rain is expected to hit the UK overnight on Tuesday, with the Met Office warning homes and businesses are likely to be flooded, causing damage to some buildings.

Its chief meteorologist Neil Armstrong said: “Parts of central and northern England and Wales could potentially see a month’s rain in just 48 hours or so, with up to 200mm possible over higher ground, presenting a real flooding threat.”

Public Health England (PHE) has issued a cold weather alert from “first thing” on Thursday until 9am on January 25 for the North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber.

In a tweet, Ros Jones, mayor of Doncaster, said emergency protocols were instigated on Sunday, with sandbags handed out in flood-risk areas. She said plans would run alongside the region’s Covid-19 response, adding: “I do not want people to panic, but flooding is possible so please be prepared.”

And Assistant Chief Constable Nick Bailey, chairman of the Greater Manchester Strategic Co-ordination Group for Storm Christoph, said: “In order to ensure that we’re as prepared as possible for the heavy rainfall expected from Storm Christoph, we have declared a major incident.

“The safety of the public is our number one priority and we’re continuing to work alongside partner agencies across the region.

“Whilst we appreciate that everyone has been told to stay home due to the coronavirus pandemic, we want to make it clear that should members of the public need to evacuate to protect themselves due to flooding then that is the priority and you should follow your local authority’s advice regarding evacuation. ”

He urged anyone with concerns about flooding in the area to contact their local authority.

A man in flood water near Naburn Lock Caravan Park in York as Storm Christoph heads to the UK. Credit: PA

He added: “Heavy rainfall is expected from later today and that could cause flooding in several areas across Greater Manchester – we are preparing for this and are continuing to monitor the situation very closely. We will continue to provide updates as often as we can.”

The Environment Agency described the combination of torrential rain and melting snow as a “volatile situation”, as councils prepare for possible evacuations should a severe flood warning be issued.

Catherine Wright, acting executive director for flood and coastal risk management at the Environment Agency, said: “That rain is falling on very wet ground and so we are very concerned that it’s a very volatile situation and we are expecting significant flooding to occur on the back of that weather.”

She said the Environment Agency will be working with local authorities to help with evacuation efforts should a severe flood warning be issued, adding: “If you do need to evacuate then that is allowed within the Covid rules the Government has.”

The National Flood Response Centre is coordinating the response as Storm Christoph moves in, Downing Street said, but no meeting of the Cobra emergency committee has yet been announced.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters: “If there are any plans for a Cobra we will obviously set them out in the usual way.

“But the National Flood Response Centre has been stood up and is coordinating the cross-agency and Government operations on this.

“The important message whilst the alerts are in place is that we urge everybody to follow the Environment Agency’s advice and check their flood risk and sign up to alerts.”

It issued a “danger to life” warning due to fast-flowing or deep floodwater, while there is a “good chance” some communities may be cut off by flooded roads.

Up to 70mm is expected to fall but in isolated spots, particularly in the northern Peak District and parts of the southern Pennines, 200mm could be possible.

A yellow rain alert is also in place for most of northern England and Wales from Tuesday to Wednesday, while a yellow weather warning for snow and ice is in force in Scotland from Dundee to Elgin and across the east coast from Wednesday afternoon until midday on Thursday.

Highways England advised drivers to take extra care on motorways and major A roads, while the RAC breakdown service said motorists should only drive if absolutely necessary.