Motorists in Devon were urged to take greater care on the roads today after overnight downpours caused some drivers to abandon their cars as major routes and country lanes were flooded.
28 flood warnings have been put in place by the Environment Agency for the South West, with heavy rainfall already causing disruption to the country's roads and villages.
Devon and Cornwall Police said there were reports of standing water on roads, creating a risk of drivers aquaplaning and potentially losing control of their vehicles.
In some cases, drivers abandoned their cars after becoming stranded in flood water, officers said.
In Dorset, police responded to the deluge by telling followers on the constabulary’s page: “Don’t take chances on the roads in this wet weather - leave extra time to get to your destination and drivesafely.”
Twelve schools in Devon were closed and 17 in Somerset, two of the worst-hit counties with North Curry C of E Primary School, east of Taunton.
Firefighters had more than 300 calls to flooding in Devon and Somerset this morning and by 6.30am firefighters were attending 30 flooding incidents including at Modbury, Plymstock, Yealmpton, Newton Ferrers, Diptford, Yelverton and across Plymouth.
Two dozen flood warnings – a more serious alert requiring immediate action - were issued, all in the Westcountry and the highest rainfall overnight was on Dartmoor with 33mm in 12 hours.
There is an amber weather warning for tomorrow for the South West, with a band of rain coming through of 20-40mm (0.8-1.6 inches) and up to 60mm (2.4 inches) in the worst-hit areas, and winds with gusts of up to 50-60mph.
Heavy rain is expected to fall on to already wet or saturated areas, raising river levels.
Strong winds will mean that wind-blown debris and fallen leaves may increase surface water flooding.
The Met Office said most of the heavy rain should clear by lunchtime today, with just a few showers this afternoon.
The clearer skies would cloud over this evening, with winds strengthening overnight.
A few showery outbreaks of rain are possible through the early hours, with a minimum temperature of 7C.
Thursday will be very windy with severe gales in exposed area.
There will be new outbreaks of rain, with some torrential downpours expected in the west, especially later in the day.
Friday will bring a quieter spell of weather, with bright or sunny spells and just a few showers. The weather will turn unsettled again on Sunday.
Gdynia Way, the main route into Plymouth from the east, was closed at the Laira Bridge junction today and remained closed seven hours later.
A city council spokeswoman said Plymouth Transport and Highways had been out clearing gullies and culverts since the early hours.
Gdynia Way was closed at 3.30am at the request of the police, after a sewer overflowed.
The closure caused congestion to Embankment Lane on the A379 Laira Bridge Road to the Finnigan Road junction and to Marsh Mills roundabout.
"Debris is currently being cleared from the carriageway and this should be re-opened again shortly," the spokeswoman said at 11am.
"A number of roads in and around Tamerton Foliot have been reported as flooded and we have a gully cart on site there to clear debris from a culvert that has become blocked by debris washed in by the rain.
"We have also had reports of properties flooded on St Peter's Road and have a crew on its way to check and clear the local culverts.
"A sewer has also overflowed on Wolseley Road though the road remains passable for vehicles."
Forder Valley Road in Plymouth was also reportedly flooded outside the filling station.
Early today a man driving a blue Mitsubishi Colt was trapped when his car broke down in floodwater in Gdynia way at 4.15am.
Plymstock firefighters pushed his vehicle clear, and the road was closed.
An hour later the Plymstock crew was called to Bovisand, where a stream broke its banks. They diverted water away from houses at Bovisand Court.
Camels Head firefighters went to Yealmpton, east of Plymouth, where they pumped out one house in Stray Park and diverted water running off the fields.
Firefighters from Ivybridge were called to Tamerton Foliot, where part of the village was closed by flooding.
Police said people were rescued from a car trapped in two feet of floodwater.
The car, a blue Nissan Almera, was trapped by the water in Old Warleigh Lane at about 4.20am.
Police said the road was closed at the junction of Riverside Walk and Fore Street, and four houses were affected.
The Kings Arms pub at the bottom of Tamerton Foliot, which has just completed an extensive refurbishment a week ago, is flooded to knee-high internally.
At 7am flood water could be seen gushing out of the door leading into the road.
Some residents in the small village awoke to find water up to their car windows.
Haldon Hill on the A38 in Kennford was flooded around Splatford Split and caused problems for rush-hour traffic.
The A383 at Ashburton Road was closed in both directions between the Greenaway Road junction in Newton Abbot and the Love Lane junction in Ashburton, because of surface water and flooding.
The A30 at Honiton is closed and there are delays eastbound between Honiton and Newcott in Smeatharpe,due of flooding. Diversion have been put in place.
Part of the A396 Exeter Road is shut in both directions between Bickleigh and Tiverton.
The A3052 is closed in both directions between Colyford and the B3172 and between Sidford and Exeter, because of flooding. Diversions are in operation via the A375 towards Honiton and the A30.
The B3179 is closed in both directions between Clyst St George and Woodbury.
The road between the A38 and Totnes was almost impassable in several places earlt this morning.
The A379 in Yealmpton is blocked around the New Road junction.
The A3121 is closed in both directions between Ermington and Ugborough, because of flooding.
There was flooding earlier on theA385 between Shinners Bridge in Dartington and Marley Head junction in Harbourneford.
Five Lanes Road in Marldon is closed in both directions at the Preston Down Road junction.
The carriageway is just passable on A361 in both directions in Tiverton at Gornhay Cross.
The A377 was closed between Cowley and Exeter and the B3181 between Willand and Exeter was backed up because of flooding in Cullompton and Broadclyst.
One motorist told the Gazette the situation was a "nightmare".
"I drove through some water thinking it was more shallow than it was," she said.
"Fortunately my car made it through but others were at the side of the road.
"In Cullompton there were loads of broken-down cars people were trying to turn but it was difficult. Uffculme was almost inaccessible because of flooding on the B3181 and Bridwell Avenue, where I saw volunteers and fire crews trying to get trapped vehicles out."
The Grand Western Canal breached its banks yesterday after a large chunk of its embankment collapsed following heavy rainfall across Mid Devon.
An eyewitness said the void left in the bank between Halberton and Sampford Peverell was so large it could accommodate Tiverton Town Hall.
He said: "This part of the canal is built up with steep banks both sides and I have been told the Canal Rangers were worried about it collapsing so they put in stopper boards in either side.
"But the bank did collapse, and you could put Tiverton Town Hall in the gap that has been left three times over – it is massive."
Devon County Council is warning residents in Halberton to be aware of the potential of further risk of flooding this today and tomorrow.
The canal breached some parts of its banks and is discharging water to the north side.
Whilst this does not pose an immediate threat, further rainfall tomorrow might make the situation worse, the council said.
Highways teams are doing their best to seal the areas where water is leaking and are keeping the situation under review.
Flooding and surface water is causing problems on roads across North Devon.
There is currently flooding on the A377 at Bishops Tawton which is barely passable and is causing traffic jams in the area. Earlier this morning a car was stuck in floodwater on the same stretch of road.
There is flooding on the A39 at Blackmoor Gate at the A399 junction.
There is also flooding on the A361 North Devon Link Road in both directions between Tiverton in Sampford Peverell and the A396 Bolham Road junction in Tiverton. Bolham Roundabout is reportedly flooded.
Devon and Cornwall Police said they had no major incidents to report but said they were receiving a large volume of calls relating to localised flooding.
At 10.45am, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service confirmed it had received 311 calls for assistance since the early hours and had attended 51 incidents.
The fire service also said it was currently dealing with 110 'live' incidents and had already rescued 18 vehicles which had become stuck in floodwater.
A flood warning has been issued for the River Taw and riverside locations and roads between Newnham Bridge and Barnstaple, including Abbot's Marsh, Burrington, Portsmouth Arms, Umberleigh and Chapelton, the A377 and B3277 Coldridge, Chenson, Eggesford, Chawleigh, Bridge Reeve, Colleton Mills and the B3220 at Taw Bridge
Flood alerts have been issued for rivers in the Lower Torridge area, the upper Torridge area, in the Lower Taw area and on Exmoor.
Helen Rossington, forecaster with MeteoGroup said the effect of the overnight deluge was made worse by recent wet weather.
She said: "We tend to get this sort of weather in autumn, but it has fallen on to already-saturated ground which has caused the flooding.
"There was a lot of rain overnight, mostly in the Devon area, while other places have had as much as one inch."
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