HUNDREDS of homes have been urgently evacuated today after a foot of rain sparked a risk to life.
More than 500 households are set to be turned out tonight after Met Office forecasters issued a series of amber warnings for downpours.
Hawick in the Scottish Borders is one of the country's worst-affected places, with officials declaring a major incident as water levels rise.
Police are leading residents from their properties amid fears there could be a tragedy.
Honister Pass in Cumbria has also seen an extraordinary 13 inches of rain – more than a foot – fall in just 33 hours.
Cumbria Police urged everyone in the county – including thousands of families on their half-term break – to only travel if necessary.
Some major roads have seen extensive flooding, including the A591 between Rydal and Grasmere.
Avanti West Coast has advised train passengers not to travel from stations in the North West of England and Scotland before tomorrow.
Among the tourist destinations badly affected by the weather is Kendal. The clubhouse at Keswick Rugby Club has been completely flooded as roads turn into rivers.
The Windermere ferry has been suspended amid the deluge.
Meanwhile, Seathwaite in Cumbria has seen 11 inches of rain today.
Glasgow has also been hit by the weather bomb – just three days before the city hosts world leaders at COP26.
Motorists have been stranded in floodwater, while other drivers have abandoned their cars on central reservations to escape the worst of the damage.
Five weather warnings have been in place today – two of which are classed as 'severe'.
One amber warning was in place for south-west Scotland until this morning, while a second covering Cumbria, much of Wales and Lancashire is in force until midnight.
Brits have been urged to keep away from fast-flowing or deep floodwater – and some communities may be cut off altogether by the surge.
Up to a month's worth of rain will fall today in some areas, with conditions not set to improve for hours yet.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has issued 17 flood warnings and five alerts today.
England's Environment Agency has nine warnings and 19 alerts, and Natural Resources Wales has issued four alerts.
In even more bad news for families on half-term breaks, gale force winds have swept in too.
The bad weather will continue into the weekend, finally ending on Sunday.
Met Office meteorologist Aidan McGivern said the rainfall is unusually severe.
"These are exceptional rainfall totals for even the wettest part of the UK, which is Cumbria on average, and for the wettest part of the year," he said.
His colleague Paul Gundersen said the poor weather will begin to taper off at long last this evening.
“The rain is likely to become more showery and less persistent, albeit still heavy at times, during Thursday night and perhaps Friday morning, with a separate warning still in force at that time," he said.
“These amounts of rainfall present a real threat of flooding and people should keep a close eye on flood warnings from the Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales and SEPA.
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"There may be some disruption to transport, with some difficult driving conditions and possible road closures. Stay up to date with the forecast in your area on the Met Office website or via our mobile app.”
Ben Lukey, flood duty manager at the Environment Agency, said: “Working with our partners in local resilience forums,teams have been out on the ground clearing waste grilles and screens, and stand ready to operate flood defences if needed.
"They are also ready to support local authorities in their response to surface water flooding.
“We are urging residents and visitors, especially holidaymakers in the Lake District, to stay alert and check their flood risk."
Meteorologist Luke Miall said Brits will be well-advised to bunker down.
"Autumn is very much with us across the UK through this week, turning a lot more unsettled over the next few days," he said.
"We could see a large amount of rain building up with a risk of flooding and some pretty tricky travelling conditions.
"Highs of 18C though, very very mild for this stage of the year.
"Quite strong winds as well, so we will continue to see some quite disruptive rainfall at times."
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