WEST Dorset communities have been warned to prepare for flooding as water levels rise amid heavy rain overnight and this morning.

A flood alert - meaning flooding is possible - has been issued by the Environment Agency for locations near local rivers and streams including the Lim, Char, Winniford, Simene, Brit, Asker, Mangerton and the Bride.

People are urged to take action now to protect properties.

A similar alert is in place for the River Axe with the alert covering the rivers Axe, Coly, Yarty, Umborne Brook and coastal streams from Branscombe to Axmouth.

The alert for west Dorset, which was issued on Monday afternoon, says: "Heavy rainfall is expected overnight and early tomorrow morning. This could make the river levels rise quickly on all rivers and streams in the West Dorset area. This rain will be falling on catchments that are mainly dry and therefore surface water runoff will occur.

"We will continue to monitor the situation and re-issue this Flood Alert if necessary.

"Avoid using low lying footpaths and any bridges near local watercourses and do not attempt to walk or drive through flood water. People in this area should consider taking action now.

"We urge all people to take care and consider activating any property flood reslience products if available."

The alert for the Axe states: "Heavy rainfall is forecast overnight in the River Axe area. This will cause river levels to rise with possible flooding to low lying land and roads close to rivers. Take care near the areas of concern and monitor your local weather conditions. We are constantly monitoring river levels."

Information will be updated on Tuesday morning or as the situation changes.