UPDATED 8.50pm: Flood warnings issued as downpours close North Yorkshire roads
HEAVY rain which has swept across North Yorkshire led to roads throughout the region being closed today - with residents being warned more flooding is likely.
Skeldergate, near the River Ouse in the centre of York, has been shut off throughout the day due to flooding, but most other routes which were affected earlier today have now reopened.
Among the roads which have been closed at various points today are Main Street in Ryther, Oxton Lane in Tadcaster, Back Lane and Ramparts in Bolton Percy, Intake Lane in Beal, Balloon Tree Lane at Gate Helmsley, the road between Welburn and Ness and Linton Bridge near Newton-on-Ouse.
Cawood Swing Bridge over the River Ouse at Cawood, near Selby - an area which has regularly been hit by flooding - was closed this morning but reopened earlier this afternoon. Many other routes are still passable only with care, including the A64 in both directions near Malton and Norton, with motorists being warned delays are possible until later tonight.
In York, St George's Field car park is partially flooded, as are New Walk, Kings and Queens Staiths and parts of Terry Avenue.
Firefighters from Tadcaster were also called in after flooding problems on Saxton Lane in Saxton - particularly at The Greyhound pub - at about 12.20pm today. North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service said water levels in the area were "rising rapidly" due to water spilling in from surrounding fields.
Crews helped provide residents with sandbags and put them in place and the fire service said the situation in the Saxton area would continue to be monitored throughout tonight.
The Environment Agency currently has flood warnings in place for the River Ouse through the centre of York, St George's Field and Naburn Lock as well as the River Derwent at Stamford Bridge and at Buttercrambe Mill. There is also a flood alert for the River Foss, including the Huntington Road area, while a flood warning for the River Nidd at Cattal has been reissued after being removed earlier today.
The agency said the Ouse in York had reached a water level of four metres - just over 13 feet - in the middle of the afternoon, but the level had peaked and was "falling very slowly", although it was likely to remain high for some time. It also said the height of the Ouse is expected to "fluctuate" over the next few days, possibly reaching a new peak on Christmas Day, and rain falling on ground which has already been saturated during recent bad weather could cause problems for several weeks.
"Our aquifers - the underground storage of water - are absolutely brimful in certain places," said agency spokesman Innis Thompson.
"We are concerned that this is a phenomenon which might actually last not just a few days, but actually a few weeks, as water bubbles out of the ground in quite unpredictable places."
East Riding of Yorkshire Council said the road between Driffield and Skerne was closed today due to flooding and pumping operations were taking place at Willow Grove in Beverley, while the road between Frodingham and Brandesburton was "passable with care".
The Met Office issued an amber weather warning for heavy rainfall across North Yorkshire early today and said further bands of rain are expected to sweep across the region into the early hours of Sunday, adding: "Given that the ground is already saturated, the public should be prepared for the risk of localised flooding and disruption to travel."