THE festive season’s wet and windy weather is forecast to ease off over the first week of 2013 – but flood warnings will remain in place.

They include the River Wey from Upwey to Weymouth and the South Winterborne Valley including Winterbourne Abbas, Winterbourne Steepleton, Martinstown, Winterbourne Monkton, Winterbourne Herringston and Winterbourne Came and parts of the Lower Frome.

With 2012 confirmed last month as England’s wettest year since records began in 1910 and only a few millimetres more rain needed last night to break the UK record, the respite will come as a relief to many Dorset residents.

However the Environment Agency (EA) is encouraging New Year’s Day drivers to take extra care on the roads due to standing flood water which has yet to drain away, thanks to high groundwater levels.

EA spokesman Paul Gainey said levels in Dorset were still rising.

“Groundwater is rising but at a slower rate than before, so hopefully it won’t be enough to cause any further flooding,” he said.

“The rain will be easing off over the next few days so it is a cheerier picture for the rest of the week.

“We are asking people to take care when driving around on New Year’s Day, it is a busy time and we don’t want to see any accidents.”

Despite only 23mm of rain forecast for the rest of Monday, and light showers today, the saturation of the rivers’ catchment areas means a small amount of rain may cause floods.

EA teams have been out ensuring that nothing is obstructing the flow of the rivers, checking that flood defences are working and closely monitoring the situation.