A FLOOD alert has been issued for the River Ouse today, Sunday, warning people to "be prepared" and to avoid low lying footpaths.

The Environment Agency said river levels were rising as a result of heavy rainfall across the area and upper catchments over the last 24 hours.

It said the water level could peak at around midnight, and the Foss barrier would be operated if necessary.

In a statement this morning, the agency said: "Consequently, flooding of low lying land, roads, riverside footpaths and cycle paths is expected today.

"Current forecasts indicate the river level in York could reach 2.2m at around 8pm this evening, with a potential peak forecast level of 2.4m towards midnight on Sunday, August 11.

"This is an early forecast and the timing and the level could change.

"Our incident response staff are closely monitoring the forecast and we are making plans to operate the Foss Barrier if necessary later on Sunday.

"Please avoid using low lying footpaths near local watercourses."

The alert covers the entire River Ouse as far as Escrick.

The flood defences in York can handle 5.4 metres or 17 feet 10 inches and work is ongoing to upgrade them.

A flood warning has been issued for the rivers Swale and Ure. The warning covers the low-lying Roecliffe Caravan Park near Helperby on the River Ure shortly before it merges with the Swale and forms the Ouse.