An online flood warning service has been launched as the country is deluged with unseasonal amounts of rain.
The FloodAlerts service uses data from the Environment Agency’s nationwide network of monitoring stations fed into web-based maps to give almost real-time updates.
Originally launched as a Facebook app in April, the FloodAlerts service was launched as a standalone web map this week, clocking up 100,000 hits in its first four hours.
Created by Shrewsbury-based Microsoft software developer Shoothill and licensed to the Environment Agency, the system allows anyone to zoom in on any point of the UK map to see flood alert and flood warning statuses.
Custom searches can also be carried out by postcode.
"We are expecting a crazy amount of rain today and in the coming days and the evidence of similar incidences in previous weeks tells us that floods are hitting places that haven’t seen such a thing for decades, sometimes with devastating and even tragic consequences," said Shoothill managing director, Rod Plummer.
"Lots of people have reason to be concerned, given the weather forecasts, so we have opened up FloodAlerts beyond Facebook, which was its launch platform, and now anyone can check it whenever and wherever they need to and still set up custom alerts in their Facebook account.
"Those alerts could be to monitor the area around their home, or perhaps their routes to and from work or their children’s schools.
"The same is true for businesses, perhaps especially those who need to keep fleets of vehicles moving as conditions get tough or need to keep a close eye on critical infrastructure."
The system overlays Environment Agency data onto Microsoft Bing maps, making use of cloud computer power to scale according to user demand.
"Being prepared is vital to help reduce the risk of flooding," an Environment Agency spokesperson said.
"With more than five million people living or working in areas at risk from flooding across England and Wales, we are urging communities to use the new application, alongside our existing Floodline Hotline and website updates, to keep one step ahead of future floods."
Access the FloodAlerts service