Warning from British Geological Survey as heavy rain continues to batter Plymouth
WALKERS have been advised to take care on the South West coast path as more heavy rain lashed the South West.
And rail travellers faced continuing disruption today – the busiest post-Christmas day for train services.
The British Geological Survey issued a rare landslide and rockfall warning yesterday as Met Office figures suggested 2012 is set to be one of the wettest years since records began.
The BGS put out an amber situation warning, the second highest, because of the saturated ground and forecasts of more heavy rainfall.
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It said there were "multiple reports of slope instability resulting in disruption to infrastructure and people".
Dr Helen Reeves of the BGS said their advice was general to the whole region and not specific.
Landslips could be caused by the wet ground or by coastal erosion caused by winter storms, she said, warning beach walkers to stay well away from the cliffs, and to look out for telltale signs like fallen rock.
On the coast paths, a sign of danger is cracks in the path. "Report those to the local authority or the landowner," she said.
One of the biggest falls this year happened in July in Burton Bradstock, Dorset, in which a 22-year-old woman from Derbyshire was killed. About 400 tons of rock fell in two rock-falls 20 minutes apart.
The Met Office said that early rain today would give way to generally dry weather for the rest of the day. "We are not out of the woods," a spokesman said. "Lighter rain could persist for a good part of Friday, but Saturday could see another band of heavy rain."
Although unlikely to match November's totals of up to 50mm in a day, it would be falling on already saturated ground. "This will keep rivers topped up and could cause minor flooding," a spokesman said.
First Great Western said flooding at Cowley Bridge east of Exeter meant that passengers would have to be taken to Tiverton by coach. The disruption was likely to continue at least until Saturday.
A spokeswoman urged people to travel tomorrow or Saturday if they could. She said the 27th was traditionally the busiest day for travel after Christmas.
And she said people should aim to travel earlier in the day if possible, to give them more time to reach their destinations.
First has doubled the number of coaches shuttling passengers between Exeter and Tiverton.
The operator has also laid on buses for people travelling on the Looe, Newquay and Barnstaple branch lines, which have been hit by the weather.
Passengers travelling from Plymouth to Teignmouth are likely to be affected by a landslip outside the town, which will mean trains running at reduced speeds.
Meanwhile, Environment Agency flood alerts remained in force on the River Yealm, the Plym and Tory Brook at Plympton, the Tamar, Tavy and Walkham, and the Lynher.
The Environment Agency said: "Rivers and streams are full, with ground saturated. There is an ongoing risk of localised flooding where showers occur."
The Met Office said some parts of Britain were experiencing their wettest year for 100 years.
In the Cornish resort of Polperro Sharon Kelly, who runs the Museum Tearooms, said flooding in the road had closed her business for about 12 days.
She said Cornwall Council's attempts to find a temporary solution to sheets of water flooding down the hillside into the town had so far failed to work.
She said that when the floods first started, at the end of November, Cornwall Council took a week to do anything.
"They are not fixing the problem, they are just putting a sticking plaster over it," she said.
The floods had hit Polperro's main street, The Coombe, and the Mill House pub, as well as some residents.