Police have declared a major incident in Greater Manchester as the area prepares for heavy rain and flooding brought by Storm Christoph tonight.

An amber weather warning for heavy rain was issued by the Met Office this morning and is expected to last until midday on Thursday. The warning covers a large area of northern England, including Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield and Peterborough.

Forecasters said residents can expect heavy rainfall, combined with ‘some snowmelt across the hills’ which is likely to lead to flooding.

Today Assistant Chief Constable Nick Bailey stated that Greater Manchester Police (GMP) had declared a major incident over the conditions. He said the force was continuing to work with partner agencies across the region.

He went on: ‘Whilst we appreciate that everyone has been told to stay home due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we want to make it clear that should members of the public need to evacuate to protect themselves due to flooding then that is the priority and you should follow your local authority’s advice regarding evacuation.

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‘Coronavirus remains a threat to everyone’s health and people should not leave their homes unless it is absolutely essential, but where there is a risk of flooding, that is clearly essential and we’re working with our partners to ensure that people can do this as safely as possible.’

Anyone who does need to evacuate their homes is asked to remain aware of Covid restrictions in place, such as limiting their contact with other people, Mr Bailey went on.

He added: ‘We would continue to urge anyone with concerns about flooding in their area to contact their local authorities who will be able to sign-post you to the most appropriate information and support.

“Partner agencies are working hard on local plans to ensure that people living in potentially vulnerable areas are notified at the earliest opportunity.

‘Heavy rainfall is expected from later today and that could cause flooding in several areas across Greater Manchester – we are preparing for this and are continuing to monitor the situation very closely. We will continue to provide updates as often as we can.’

Earlier today a major incident was also declared in South Yorkshire as a result of the flooding, with some families told to prepare to evacuate their homes. High risk were inspected over the past 36 hours and sandbags have been handed out.

The Met Office has warned the severe weather could cause homes and businesses to be flooded, causing damage to buildings and fast flowing water, which may be a danger to life.

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Travel is also expected to be disrupted, and some communities may find they are cut off from others due to flooded roads.

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