Sinkholes force closure of M25 as deluge prompts flood warnings across Britain
Commuters have been warned of severe travel disruption on Tuesday as parts of the M25 were closed in both directions because of two sinkholes.
Kent Police said they were responding to a traffic accident between junctions four and five when they discovered the holes in the central reservation.
Highways England said the road near Sevenoaks would remain closed through the morning rush hour “due to the serious road defect” and told motorists to follow diversions.
The closure came as forecasters warned the UK could be inundated with more than 100mm of rain this week.
The Met Office issued a series of weather warnings as heavy rain drenched much of England and Wales on Monday. The severe weather is set to continue into Tuesday, with roads and the rail network expected to be disrupted.
A total of 31 flood alerts – which mean flooding is possible – are in place across the country.
National Rail warned that Southern and Thameslink trains will be heavily impacted during the morning commute, with some services delayed or cancelled due to flooding.
North-eastern parts of England and the Midlands are expected to bear the brunt of the downpours on Tuesday, with a yellow warning in place until midnight.
Some areas set to see up to 60mm of rain, particularly over the first half of the day, according to the Met Office.
Another warning covers Devon and Somerset, where similar conditions are expected.
The Environment Agency has issued three flood warnings in south-east England, for the River Wandle at Morden, south London, the Emm Brook at Wokingham and Ravensbourne at Bromley.
The agency said on its website: “River levels have risen as a result of localised thunderstorms. Flooding of property is expected imminently. Please take action.”
On Wednesday and Thursday, some parts of the UK could be struck by 60mm to 80mm of rain, and possibly even up to 100mm.
Alex Burkill, Met Office meteorologist, described the figures as the “worst-case scenarios” but added that people need “to be aware that we’re in for some treacherous weather”.
“If you add it all up some places are likely to see over 100mm this week, which is around double the average they would get in the whole of June,” he said.
Kent Police said on Monday night that they had received “countless calls of roads flooded” and “cars stranded”.
The Environment Agency’s executive director of flood risk management, John Curtin, warned there could be “issues all week” because the heaviest downpours were still to come. The overall flood risk has been set at “medium”.
June is now odds on to be the wettest on record, with yellow weather warnings issued for the coming week and the country set to be deluged by heavy rain.
This week will see potential highs of just 66.2F (19C), a marked shift from the 82.4F (28C) heat seen in London on June 3.
Bookmakers have said that 2019 could be the wettest year on record, whilst odds were 25-1 for it to rain on each day of Wimbledon.