Relentless rain could put the brakes on the great festive getaway in Gloucestershire for some travellers while homeowners face an anxious wait after a flood alert was placed on the county.
With weather warnings issued for rain and wind in the county at the start of the Christmas getaway, Gloucestershire County Council’s highway crews and Fire and Rescue Service are on standby ready to respond over the next 24 hours.
The Met Office has issued a severe weather warning for the South West, urging residents to be prepared for more adverse conditions on Christmas Eve.
A flood warning has been issued by the Environment Agency for the River Severn at Severn Ham, Tewkesbury, including Abbey Mill, Upper and Lower Lode and Shakespeare Court.
A flood warning has also been sent out for the River Wye from Hereford to Ross On Wye.
Meanwhile flood alerts were issued for the River Severn, from Tewkesbury to Gloucester, as well as the River Lyd and Cinderford Brook.
The county’s highway teams are monitoring the situation carefully, and road workers already on winter standby are prepared to respond to any weather related incidents.
The A417 at Maisemore was cleared at 7.45pm on Monday following surface water flooding near the Rudge junction.
Bosses at rail operator First Great Western said journey times on all its routes were likely to be longer than usual on Christmas Eve due to the conditions.
A statement from the company said: "First Great Western's High Speed Services are severely affected by the restriction along with other branch line and Main line services.
"Journey times on all routes will be significantly extended."
Police received around 350 calls on Monday concerning issues like flooding, trees down and damage to buildings.
Highway crews are out on county roads clearing drains of leaves in advance of any expected heavy rainfall.
Additional specialist tree surgeons are also on standby if needed.
The covered walkway next to Tesco at Gloucester Bus Station was closed off as a precaution after high winds threatened to bring it down. The station is still open as normal but people have to walk the long way round to gain access.
With many people travelling to be with family and friends over Christmas, drivers are urged to be prepared and check the latest updates ahead of their journeys and not to drive through any floodwater.
And if you come across standing water on the roads the advice is to reduce your speed; avoid heavy braking; slow down when approaching standing water; and turn and manoeuvre gently.
Vernon Smith, cabinet member for roads and flood said: “Our road crews put in tremendous effort battling against the elements around the clock to keep the county moving.
“I would like to thank crews for their dedication braving the weather so we can go about our daily lives, especially in the run up to Christmas.
“Gloucestershire County Council is prepared should stormy weather hit, and travellers should be prepared too. Please drive safely, check your journey and don’t drive through flood water.”
Richard Waters, highways manager at Gloucestershire Highways said: “The current forecast means we could see some problems with surface water on roads and fallen branches. We are monitoring the situation and are ready to respond if required.”
Will Windsor Clive, cabinet member for fire said: “Should bad weather hit fire crews are fully prepared to respond to help keep the county safe.”
You can report any issues on the roads via www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/reportit or call 08000 514 514.
Weather response updates will be posted on Twitter via @GlosHighways and @GlosCC.
Forecasters have said 24 hours of heavy rain is likely to sweep into the county from 9am today, lasting well into Christmas Eve. The Environment Agency is on standby with an incident room due to open from 10am.
Updated flood risk map. Wye and Severn will continue to rise through Christmas. pic.twitter.com/pcAt6SvgjP
— Dave Throup (@DaveThroupEA) December 23, 2013
As people take to the roads and the railways to join family and friends for Christmas, the weather is threatening to cause severe disruption across the region.
A yellow flood alert has been in place at the River Wye in the Forest of Dean since Thursday.
Dave Throup, from the Environment Agency, said: "It is too early to say what the impact will be, but we are expecting significant rainfall from 9am today to last until late into the night.
"The number of flood alerts in place could change as the morning develops and we get a better idea of the extent of the rainfall.
"I would urge people to keep a close eye on the weather forecast and the Environment Agency live website. We will be opening an incident room from 10am. There is potential for significant levels of disruption."
— Dave Throup (@DaveThroupEA) December 23, 2013
Bruce Hogan, district councillor for Lydbrook, said residents across the Forest will face an anxious 24 hours to see how much rain falls and the knock on effect it could have. He said: "There is a drain nearby to the Lydbrook recreation ground that is prone to blocking up with debris. When this happens surrounding roads and properties can be at risk.
"The last time that area flooded in November 2012 the Great Hough brook burst its banks. Houses, a garage and the Jovial Colliers pub flooded and it has only just re-opened. Gloucestershire Highways is due to upgrade the drain in question this winter, but that work may come too late if there is a long spell of heavy rain this week."
Strong winds up to 52mph are also expected with Met Office weather experts predicting temperatures dropping to 4C (39.2F).
A National Rail statement said: "Very strong winds and heavy rain may mean that some trains are delayed or cancelled, and some train operators may run an amended timetable."
Train operators which could be affected by the weather include Arriva Trains Wales, First Great Western, South West Trains and Virgin Trains.
First Great Western have announced they are accepting tickets booked for travel tomorrow a day early, to enable rail users to get home today, but warned that services would be busy as a result.