Christmas downpours bring misery to hundreds of houses and businesses already swamped with floodwater, with many more facing the risk of rising waters over the holidays.

Christmas brings heavy downpours and floods to UK (G)

The Environment Agency (EA) reduced its flood warnings and flood alerts, but sodden ground and swollen river levels mean that people are still being asked to prepare for flooding

The number of flood warnings were reduced from 166 to 150 across England and Wales, and the EA urged people to take immediate action against expected flooding. They also dropped the number of less serious flood alerts from 266 to 259 alerts. In Scotland, 12 flood warnings were removed.

Showers are expected to continue overnight with further rain on Wednesday, according to the Met Office UK weather forecast. Southern Scotland was expected to have persistent rain. Patchy ice was predicted in some northern and central parts of England and the south was to remain windy.

Sunshine predicted

It wasn't all bad news, however. While it was a wet Christmas Day for most, the sun shone in some parts of Britain and there appeared to be some relief later in the week. The east was expected to awake to a dry and bright start on Wednesday monring but more rain is anticipated across England, Wales and Northern Ireland during the day.

"Although the rain is set to ease a little in the coming days, the ground is still very wet and river levels remain high, so we would ask people to keep up to date with the latest warnings and stay prepared for flooding," said David Jordan, the EA's director of operations.

In Devon and Cornwall, 245 properties flooded over the weekend. Most of those evacuated have returned home. Officials said the rivers Severn, Trent, Avon and Thames are at most risk of flooding.

Gallery: Pictures of Britain under water

Updated warnings

Weather forecaster John Lee said the only snow was in the Highlands of Scotland where the flurries were not a surprise.

"Unfortunately, there is more rain on the way tomorrow and that's quite persistent throughout the day," he said. "The South West will have some fairly heavy bursts in the morning turning into widespread showers in the afternoon."

Parts of the West Country and Wales were expected to get a fair amount of rain on Wednesday - between 15 and 20 millimetres in certain areas which is not uncommon for this time of year.

Road travel disruptions

The rain caused travel disruption on road and rail networks in the days leading up to Christmas.

The soggy Christmas comes towards the end of what is expected to be one of the wettest years in Britain since records began. The UK's average rainfall in 2012, excluding December, is 1,202mm - placing it 13th in the list of wettest years since records began in 1910. The year 2000 remains the UK's wettest year, with an average rainfall of 1,337.3mm.

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