January will get 2013 off to a drier start but flood warnings will remain in place.

With 2012 confirmed 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 yesterday said levels in Dorset were still rising.

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

“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.”

The Avon Causeway road near Hurn was again partially blocked by standing water yesterday, although traffic was able to make it past with care.

Flood warnings for the River Avon between Salisbury and Ringwood, and Ringwood and Christchurch, remain in effect, although the river level started to drop yesterday morning.

Despite only 23mm of rain forecast for the rest of Monday, and light showers today, the saturation of the river’s 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 river, checking that flood defences are working.

The Avon is largely supplied by groundwater aquifers and therefore there is a delay in seeing the full effects of the rain, and it will take longer for the river to subside.