UK’s big thaw sees up to 30,000 homes left without water

Thousands without water and 100 properties flooded

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Families in Kent, Sussex, Morecambe and Lancaster are now facing 24 hours without water after frozen pipes burst and water flooded streets across the UK. 

The sudden rise in temperatures has been blamed by meteorology expert Stephen Burst on a surge of warm air arriving here from the South.

He said: “Very mild and humid tropical maritime air from the region of Madeira transported quickly north and eastwards to our islands because of the development of a major North Atlantic depression over the past couple of days.”

While the slew of burst pipes has been an unwelcome occurrence, it has not been entirely unexpected.

Experts warned this could happened as the sudden increase in water, added to by recent torrential rain, would hit frozen blocks and cause a surge in pressure that could break pipes made of copper or plastic.

It is this burst pipes which have caused disruption for so many in the build-up to Christmas in just a few days.

Speaking about disruption, South East Water apologised for the disruption and asked that the public reduce their demand for water.

They said in a statement: “Our team of technicians are working around the clock using a variety of methods to reroute water around the network and ease pressure on our system.

“On a normal winter’s day we extract, treat and pump an average of 520 million litres of drinking water a day to customers.

“During the past 24 hours this has increased by 100 million litres to 620 million. This has resulted in many of our drinking water storage tanks, which hold treated water before it is pumped to customers’ taps, going empty or very low.

“Although we planned for this, we cannot predict when and where pipes will burst and are reacting as quickly as possible.”

Alongside loss of water pressure, there is another issue for families and the wider general public to consider, the risk of floods.

The thaw has brought with it a return to milder temperatures, but also torrential rain.

Subsequently, the Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning for rain across the south of England and Wales.

The side effect of this is the risk of major flooding. On this, Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill cautioned: “It’s also worth bearing in mind that, preceding this obviously it was so cold, so the grounds were a bit frozen, drains may have frozen in places.”

He added: “As a result, their ability to cope with the rainfall may have been reduced, so that’s why we could see some greater impacts which is why the warning was issued.”

One of the wide impacts will be conditions on the road as the burst pipes spill their contents onto the now already drenched roads.

Spokesperson for the RAC, Rod Dennis said: “With weather conditions in many places this weak being almost the exact opposite of last week, drivers getting away for Christmas need to be on their guard.

“Snow and ice is melting rapidly, leading to lots of surface spray, and in some parts the cold, clear conditions have been replaced with heavy rain and strong winds.

“Its vital drivers slow down for the conditions, taking particular care on high and exposed rural routes.”

As well as the roads, trains are expected to be disrupted as well with South Western Railway reporting relays caused by the heavy rain and high winds.

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