Satellite pictures show dramatic change in British landscape as the Big Freeze turns into the Big Thaw
This first picture was taken on Saturday, showing much of the UK covered in a thick blanket of snow, which had caused havoc on roads and left many schools closed last week.
But just 24 hours later, as seen in the second image, the landscape of the country was completely different. Heavy rainfall and warmer temperatures combined to completely thaw out the snow across much of the UK
Freezing: This incredible satellite picture shows the UK on Saturday covered in a thick blanket of snow
Thaw: However, just 24 hours later, the thick snow had disappeared following heavy rainfall
Since then, much of the country has been on flood alert - with many areas today experiencing flooding.
With downpours and gusts of up to 65mph set to continue this afternoon, the Environment Agency has issued 188 flood alerts across the UK - meaning that flooding is possible.
It has also issued 47 flood warnings - meaning that flooding is expected.
This evening, the devastated father of a kayaker who died after he got into difficulties in a swollen river paid tribute to his son.
Firefighters and mountain rescue volunteers freed Matthew Baird-Parker, 36, after his kayak became trapped in debris in Arkle Beck, near Reeth, in the Yorkshire Dales.
He was airlifted to hospital but was pronounced dead in hospital.
His father Stephen Baird-Parker told the BBC: 'Matthew was a very active and committed person and anything he did, he did to his full extent.
'If there was a way you could wish to die, then he would have wanted to die doing this. He was exceptionally good at it and it is all he wanted to do.'
Odd: Freak weather conditions led to this newly-finished house looking like a bomb site today after it was struck by a bolt of lightning - which blew the radiators off the walls
Mess: Bricks and rubble were left strewn across the road following the powerful lightning strike
The alarm was raised when Mr Baird-Parker, who is from Kidderminster, Worcestershire, got into difficulty as he kayaked with two friends on the beck, which is also known as the River Arkle, at about 1pm yesterday.
A major rescue operation was launched and specially-trained firefighters went into the fast-flowing water to attach a rope to the stricken kayak.
The teams managed to secure the boat with the help of the Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team.
Steve Clough, from the mountain rescue team, said the water was swollen with snow melt and extremely cold.
Chaos: The lightning strike caused huge damage inside the home of Tony Dicorat and his partner Hayley Williams
The Great North Air Ambulance took Mr Baird-Parker to James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, for treatment but he was pronounced dead after he arrived.
Freak weather conditions also led to a newly-finished house looking like a bomb site today after it was struck by a bolt of lightning - which blew the radiators off the walls.
The explosive blast destroyed the chimney stack, brought down the loft ceiling and left a huge hole in the roof.
Power sockets and light switches were also blown out of their fixings and cars parked outside were showered with bricks and roof tiles.
Surprising: This tornado was seen along the coastal path between Clevedon and Portishead, leaving on-lookers mesmerised
Stranded: This £300,000 James Bond-style Aston Martin DB5 was found stuck in flooded waters in Oxfordshire after its driver ignored the sign showing that flooded location was up to two feet in water
Rescue: Two men had to be rescued by an Essex Fire & Rescue Service boat when their van got stuck in floodwater near Danbury in Chelmsford today
Safe: One of the men can be seen being taken away in the boat by a firefighter
Neighbours said the noise of the strike around 7.30pm last night was like a bomb going off.
But miraculously the lightning did not trigger a fire and house owner Tony Dicorat, 29, was out at the time.
Mr Dicorat - a fireman - had only just finished decorating the four-bed property ready to lease out to new tenants later this week.
He said: "I'd gone to may parents for my Sunday evening meal and decided to stay a little longer for some cheesecake.
In trouble: This Land Rover was left struggling in flood water near Danbury in Chelmsford today. The Environment Agency has issued more than 150 flood alerts across the UK
Tricky: This delivery van was having a tough time getting through the flood water in Danbury
VIDEO First there was snow and now…flooding rescue in ESSEX
"If I'd not had that and left 15 minutes earlier I would have been back home when it happened.
"The first I knew of it was a phone call from one of the boys at work who said 'There's been a bit of an accident'.
"By the time I got to the house the crews were already there tackling the incident."
Tony - who had finished work with blue watch the previous evening - added: "It's made a real mess.
"I'd just finished it ready to rent out at the end of this week and I was going to move across the city.
Flooded: This row of houses in St. Ives, Cambridgeshire, ended up with boats in their gardens after the River Great Ouse burst its banks
Odd: The block of flats was suddenly transformed into a mini marina
Submerged: This playground in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, was out of action for youngsters after the River Great Ouse burst its banks
Worrying: This car park in Tamworth has started to flood with the waters getting close to parked vehicles
"The only good thing about it is that there was no-one here at the time. It could have been very nasty.
"I've never seen anything like it in my job as a fireman."
The upper floor of the house was devastated and covered in plasterboard and pink lagging from the loft which crashed down.
Radiators in the entrance hall and top floor hall were blown from their mountings.
Today, the driver of a £300,000 James Bond-style Aston Martin DB5 was left red-faced today after getting stuck in flooded water in Oxfordshire.
It is believed he ignored signs which warned that the road underneath the bridge between Woolstone and Longcot was flooded with up to two feet in water.
The unfortunate incident comes after lottery winner Robert Johnson saw his £100,000 Bentley written off when he tried to drive through a flooded road in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, early this month.
Freezing: This picture shows Summerhill Force in County Durham on Thursday. It was frozen solid during sub-zero temperatures and heavy snowfalls. But it was a much different scene today....
Majestic: Following the three-day thaw, Summerhill Force is back to its normal self, with water gushing over the rocks
He was driving along a country lane on the outskirts of the town when the black Bentley Continental GT was swamped by three feet of water from a stream which had burst its banks.
The South West and northern England are most at risk from further flooding havoc, after a kayaker died as chaos was caused when melting snow and ice combined with rainstorms to drench Britain.
After two weeks, rising temperatures turned the big freeze into the big thaw with devastating results.
Buildings flooded and drivers crashed or were trapped as up to 4ft of water poured out, with the meltwater swelled by rain.
Rivers across the country broke their banks but there will be little let-up as forecasters warned of showers and high winds until at least the weekend.
Under water: Huntingdon Racecourse was also a victim of the flooding
Making a splash: This lorry just about managed to leave Huntingdon Racecourse despite the deep water
Death: Emergency services confirmed the kayaker, who was pulled from a fast-flowing river after getting into difficulties, died as Britain was battered by floods yesterday
Dangerous: The man, who was in his 30s, got into difficulties in the River Arkle, in the Yorkshire Dales, prompting a major rescue operation
In total, 87 flood warnings were yesterday in place across the country. Another 339 alerts were issued by the Environment Agency, warning of possible floods.
Those figures had fallen to 55 and 238 by this morning.
After a fortnight of snow, temperatures suddenly rose to as high as 12C.
Two people were killed in a head-on car crash early today as icy conditions continued to wreak havoc across the South of England.
A woman driving a silver coloured Renault Clio and a man driving a green Ford Mondeo were both pronounced dead at the scene following the fatal crash.
Residents living nearby said conditions on the roads were icy and dangerous before the collision.
One woman, who did not wish to be named said at the scene in Whitchurch, Hampshire: 'It's very icy here at the moment and the roads are very dangerous.
Maps: This three-day forecast shows how rain is expected across much of the country today and tomorrow
Braving the storm: A jogger on Blackpool's north shore braves high winds and big waves to go for a run along the coast
MORE FLOODING FOR ALREADY- BELEAGUERED TEWKESBURY
The beleaguered town of Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, is preparing itself for yet more flooding as the snow melts on the Welsh mountains and cascades into the River Severn.
With temperatures rising significantly over the weekend and more heavy rain the Severn at Mythe Bridge has been rising fast over the last two days.
Yesterday it had reached 11.5ft - much higher than the average 9ft for this time of year; The Environment Agency said flooding was possible from 13ft - which it could reach later today.
If there is more widespread flooding in and around Tewkesbury it will be the third time this winter that the area has been hit.
At Haw Bridge, a critical flood point between Gloucester and Tewkesbury, the river last night had already reached 14ft.
Samantha Snape, landlady at The Lower Lode Inn in Forthampton, near Tewkesbrury, said the floods in November and again in December had already devastated her business.
She was phoned twice yesterday by the Environment Agency with flood warnings.
‘We were told there could be possible flooding around the area so soon after the last two floods caused so much damage here,’ she said. ‘Even if it doesn’t flood the pub, it cuts off access to the road.
'People don’t know we’re open again after the problem, and we’re trying to get trade going again. We need to let people know we’re open.’
'A lot of people drive too fast through the lanes and I always worry that there is going to be a terrible accident.
'Sadly, it sounds as if there has been. The accident has caused total chaos and there are cars queuing all around.'
Police are investigating the accident which happened at 6.44am near Whitchurch.
Gareth Harvey, senior forecaster with Meteogroup, said repeated narrow bands of rain would move east across the country during the course of the week.
Winds could reach 85mph in north west Scotland tomorrow evening, with winds of 60-65mph further south.
'We have quite a lot of rain coming across the country at the moment, especially across northern and western areas,' he said.
'There are some quite strong winds today in with that.
'We are probably seeing gusts up to 60mph this afternoon in exposed western parts.
The winds will ease through the course of Wednesday but persistent rain and showers will continue.'
He added: 'The rain is going to add to flood problems.'
'The whole week is really quite unsettled.'
Commuters were badly affected, with trains suspended and roads closed by melting snow.
Winds of 60mph and heavy rain compounded the misery, with more than an inch falling in Wales, central England and the South-West by mid-morning.
A freak hailstorm on the M4 in South Wales caused a five-car crash, which injured 11 people.
Police warned drivers in Durham of ice on roads throughout the county as temperatures dipped overnight.
Damage: This car is practically vertical after floodwaters damaged the garage it was being stored in Pontypridd, Wales
Danger: Floodwaters damage a garage above the river in Pontypridd - leaving a car precariously perched above the fast running water following snow melt
A spokesman said: 'Police in Durham have issued a warning of hazardous road conditions to motorists travelling throughout the county this morning.
'All areas of the county are affected by ice on road surfaces as temperatures plummeted overnight, making early-morning driving conditions difficult.
'Motorists are advised to exercise caution while travelling. The council has gritters currently working throughout the area.'
Another two inches of rain is expected today in some areas of Wales. In England, up to an inch is predicted as a fresh blast of showers and high winds heads east.
Met Office forecaster Emma Sharples said: ‘The snow has melted and, with rain arriving from the West, there has not been enough time for anything to dry out.
‘It will continue to be very wet, with rain coming in very quickly on Tuesday.
'It will be very windy and showers will continue until at least next weekend.’
By yesterday afternoon, flooding had been reported on many rivers, including the Great Ouse, Trent, Severn, Arkle, Swale and the Allan in Stirlingshire. Water levels are expected to continue to rise throughout the week.
Flooded: A tractor drives through flood water in Eggington, Derbyshire after the village was cut off by rising water yesterday
Watching on: The main road through Wolston, near Coventry, is under water and only passable in a 4x4
Making way: 4x4 cars seem to be the only vehicles to be able to wade their way through the floods on the main road through Walston, near Coventry, with pedestrians looking on from the footbridge
Easy rider: Anthony Lawton, 45, rides his motorcycle through flood water in Eggington, Derbyshire after the village was cut off by rising water
Last night, a mother, 34, and her two-year-old daughter were rescued from the Thames in Isleworth, West London
The girl had fallen through railings and her mother had jumped in after her, said Chiswick RNLI.
They were taken to hospital after becoming ‘very cold’ after ten minutes in the icy 8ft deep water. ‘They both seemed to be fine but it was a very hazardous situation,’ said an RNLI spokesman.
In Somerset, dockmaster George Reeder, 63, dived into freezing waters to save a six-month-old boy who was blown in by strong winds while strapped into his buggy.
The baby’s mother had screamed for help at Watchet Harbour but, despite spending five minutes in the water, he was recovering in hospital yesterday.
Drivers were trapped on roads in Yorkshire, Bournemouth and Staffordshire, where a woman scrambled to safety after abandoning her car on the A34 in 4ft of flood water.
Police have named a climber who died after falling 300ft from Ben Nevis on Saturday as Ben St Joseph, 22, from Essex.
The thaw and rain will worsen the problem of potholes, website Potholes.co.uk warns today. Its data said they are typically up to 4in deep, 1in more than two years ago.
The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency yesterday also put several warnings in place, with the River Allan, in Sterlingshire, swollen due to melting snow and rain.
One man and his dog: Sam Davis gives his dog Meg a piggy back through flood water in Cleveland yesterday
Going surfing: Meg the Collie sits on a surf board and enjoys the flood water at Saltburn-by-the-Sea, Cleveland
Help: A man tries to clear a blockage from a drain as the big thaw and heavy rainfall hit Cleveland
Major travel disruption hit parts of the country with several roads already closed or facing delays due to floods.
Chris Burton, a forecaster for MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: 'The rain started falling overnight in the west and will move east across all areas of the UK, with at least half-an-inch falling in most areas.
'The worst affected areas will be Wales and the south west.
'We have had some reports of flooding in south Wales which have had heavy downpours.
'There is also likely to have been some in north England and the Midlands where there is a large amount of snow melting.
'But from mid-morning the rain should lift and it should remain largely dry, with some scattered showers.
Splash: A car drives through flood water on a road near to Boulby in East Cleveland
Waterlogged: A woman walks her dog in the flooding at Loftus in Cleveland
Danger: A house sits precariously on the edge of the swollen River Allan in the Bridge of Allan, Stirling, after the combination of melting snow and heavy rainfall has caused SEPA to issue flood warning in several parts of Scotland
Keeping watch: Police keep an eye on the level of a the swollen River Allan by the Bridge of Allan, Stirling
Harzardous: This driver tackles flood water on the M3 causing massive splashes around his car
'Winds of up to 60mph will also cross the UK today.'
More heavy rain and flood risks are forecast for tomorrow ahead of what is looking likely to be an unsettled week.
Yesterday morning the M42 southbound between junction 11 and 10, in Staffordshire, faced delays because of flood water, as did the A35 eastbound in Dorset.
The A595 southbound near Whitehaven, and parts of the northbound carriageway in Cumbria were both closed due to surface water.
Motorists also faced delays at the M25 exit sliproad anti-clockwise at junction 6 and on the A46 north and south near Willoughby, Lincolnshire.
A motorist was caught out in the village of Alconbury in Cambridgeshire earlier in the day after the River Great Ouse burst its banks.
Heavy rain caused water levels in the river to rise overnight and the nearby roads flooded with water knee high in some places.
A tree fell onto a moving car, smashing the windscreen on the B452 near Kenilworth, Warwickshire in high winds. The driver, aged in his early 20s escaped unharmed
Wading: Jo Blood wades through flood waters in the Cambridgeshire village of Alconbury Weston yesterday
Many of the roads were closed and diversions put in place, whilst a number of residents were trapped in their homes.
In Hawes, in the Yorkshire Dales, a motorist had to be rescued from floodwater by fire crews who pushed him to safety.
The driver became stuck on Burnt Acres Road at about 8.46am.
A North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman said: 'There are a few flood alerts coming in for flooded roadways.
'We would just advise motorists to take care if they come across stretches of road with floodwater and not to take any risks.'
Humberside Fire and Rescue Service said they had been called to the village of Lockington, near Driffield, due to severe flooding on the main street.
But a spokesman said no properties were affected.
Ankle deep: The village of Alconbury Weston was flooded after the River Great Ouse burst its banks
Defence: Residents in Ascott Under Wychwood, in Oxfordshire, putting up flood barriers
Weather beaten: A youngster dodges the waves as winds batter the coast at Southsea beach, Hampshire
A woman takes her pet to safety in the village of Alconbury Weston, Cambridgeshire
A van makes its way through flood water in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire
Another East Yorkshire village affected was Holme Upon Spalding Moor where firefighters were called to localised flooding on Market Weighton Road caused by the rapid snow thaw.
The spokesman said East Riding of Yorkshire Council was putting out sandbags in the area.
Part of Dumfries was under up to four feet of water yesterday.
The River Nith rose more than 14ft overnight as melting snow and torrential rain combined to flood hundreds of acres of farmland.
Floods then spread to the town centre with the Whitesands area suffering.
A police spokesman at Dumfries said: 'The road was closed in the early morning and all cars were moved off.
Raging: The River Tyne swollen with melted snow and ice water at Wylam in Northumberland
Swollen: The river Derwent in Belper, Derbyshire is also swollen due to heavy rain and melting snow
Wild: The river Derwent in flood in Belper, Derbyshire
'It rose very quickly with a combination of the rain, melting snow and the high tide which was around midday.'
Shopkeepers and householders erected barricades and sandbags to try and prevent the murky waters getting in but several pubs and shops were under water and cellars filled.
The flooding was expected to last throughout the night and a watch was being kept for the high tide around midnight.
Other rivers in the area including the Annan, Urr, Esk and Dee were in full spate and low lying farmland was several feet deep in many areas.
Several roads in the Stewartry were closed overnight because of deep flood water including the A712 Crocketford to Balmaclellan Road and the B794 link road between the A712 and the A75, through Kirkpatrick Durham.
Slow progress: A car drives along a flooded road in Ascott Under Wychwood, Oxfordshire
Recurring flood: Whitesands at Dumfries was under water for the third time this winter as the River Nith burst its banks after torrential rain and melting snow
No go zone: Buses and bikes were moved away from the Whitesands at Dumfries which was under water as the River Nith burst it's banks
High tide: Water rises up a wall at Whitesands, Dumfries
Whitesands at Dumfries pictured flooded
A Scotttish Environmental Protection Agency spokesman said 'River levels at the Whitesands have now peaked and the flood water is starting to recede.
'Levels should continue to fall during the afternoon into the evening and it is expected the river will be back in bank early this evening.'
Warnings were also issued for villages along the Solway coast where big tides have been backed by gale force winds.
A moving car was crushed by a falling 20ft tree in high winds in Warwickshire.
The towering tree smashed the windscreen and dented the bonnet of the driver's Audi.
Police closed off the busy road, near Kenilworth, while they tried to clear the debris.
The driver, who escaped with no major injuries, was said to have been 'shaken up' by the incident.
Passer-by Robert Hands stopped at the scene of the accident on the B452 to help.
A car splashes through deep surface water from melting snow and ice near Ovingham in Northumberland
Flood water caused by melting snow and overnight rain forces its way through a wall near Skelton in East Cleveland, making driving conditions difficult for passing motorists
Cars make their way through flooded roads near Skelton in East Cleveland
He said: 'The young driver was a bit shaken up but he was okay.
'He hadn't been going too fast but I think he was very lucky.
'He could have had some really nasty injuries or worse still been killed.'
Mr Hands said the tree had been blown down in high winds.
A spokesman from Warwickshire Police said: 'Officers attended the scene of an accident at Birmingham Road, near Kenilworth at around 1pm.
'A tree had fallen into a moving vehicle and damaged it. The driver was unharmed and didn't need any treatment.'
While most of the country endured floods, beach-goers in Weymouth, Dorset enjoyed the warmer weather
People enjoying donkey rides on the beach in Weymouth, Dorset, yesterday. The area had been covered in snow before yesterday
Icy conditions cancelled the final day of the big annual sled dog race in the Cairngorms.
More than 100 canines had been due to compete in the event, which started on Saturday in perfect conditions.
But overnight rain left large patches of ice on the course, making it too dangerous for the dogs.
The event had been celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Siberian Husky Club of Great Britain - and was run on snow for only the second time in 20 years on Saturday.
It is understood to be the first time in the event's history that a full day's racing has had to be called off.
Forecasters are predicting the wet weather will continue today and tomorrow.
While much of the UK was already coming to terms with flooding, other parts were still enjoying the snow before the rain set in.
Parts of Tyneside were still blanketed with heavy snow on Saturday night while Vernon Gibbons and his family created their own snow lounge in the village of High Handenfold, near Chester-le-Street, County Durham.
The Durham Ox pub in Coundon, near Bishop Auckland, also became a winter wonderland as landlady Susan Masters, 44, and her 21-year-old daughter Kara Walton, created some snowy beer drinkers.
Whitewash: While parts of the UK were already facing flood threats as the big thaw began, Windy Nook in Gateshead was still blanketed with heavy snow
Cold: Ambient light illuminating snow high above Tyneside as viewed from Windy Nook, Gateshead
Bitter: A dog walker in Windy Nook, Gateshead battles with snowy conditions
Wintery: Cross country skiers enjoy the last of the snow as they pass by the viaduct across the valley of the River Ribble at Ribblehead, in North Yorkshire
Great views: The Winter Cumbrian Mountain Express, the first of 2013, crosses the viaduct across the valley of the River Ribble at Ribblehead, in North Yorkshire, giving passengers stunning views of the snow
SIXTY YEARS SINCE FLOODING KILLED HUNDREDS IN THE UK
The UK suffered one of its worst peacetime disasters sixty years ago this week when severe flooding hit the east coast of England, killing hundreds of people.
The sea swept up to two miles inland, with huge tides surging down the coast between the Tees and the Thames on the night of January 31 1953
By the following morning, the death toll on land was estimated at 307 in English coastal towns and villages.
About 24,000 homes were damaged and more than 30,000 people moved to safety.
Disaster: An aerial view of Canvey Island, Essex, as flood water rises in 1953
Submerged: Oil wells at Greenhithe in Kent were left underwater during the floods of 1953
More than 177 were lost at sea in fishing boats, and more than 130 on the Irish Channel ferry Princess Victoria.
In Holland and Belgium the horror was even worse, with more than 3,000 people killed.
More than 1,000 miles of British coast, from Shetland to Kent, was affected by the storm, which was caused by a severe depression.
The sea was sucked up into a mound of water then forced down the east coast by northerly winds which reached hurricane force.
Sea defences burst in more than 1,000 places and the coastline was altered.
Battening down the hatches: View from the air as Servicemen mend a breach in the sea wall at Canvey Island, Essex, during the floods of 1953
People had little warning because of poor communication and the fact that no single body was responsible for flood alerts.
Coastal towns in Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Kent were devastated as sea water surged into the streets.
Many people spent a freezing night on rooftops, awaiting rescue by firefighters, police, soldiers or lifeboatmen.
At King's Lynn, Norfolk, the sea level was 7ft higher than a normal high tide, and a 6ft wave crashed through the centre of the town. More than 60 died between King's Lynn and nearby Hunstanton.
About 13,000 people were evacuated from Canvey Island, Essex, and 59 died.
Among the heroes were large numbers of servicemen and women, including Americans and Canadians still stationed in East Anglia after the Second World War.
Fighting the tide: Volunteers from the Army, Air Force and Navy at work to shore up sea defences in Canvey Island, Essex, in 1953
One American airman was awarded the George Medal.
While warning systems and coastal defences have been significantly improved since 1953, the threat remains real.
Climate change means growing storm frequency, high tides and winds are now much more likely to coincide with catastrophic effect, the Environment Agency says.
One near miss came at Christmas 1999 when Britain was two hours away from almost hurricane-force storms hitting the south coast.
The storm would have coincided with high tide, bringing potential for disaster, but veered away towards the north of France where it caused more than 100 deaths.
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