Hundreds of homes and businesses in Lancashire, Cumbria and West Yorkshire were evacuated as rivers burst their banks. The River Calder at Hebden Bridge and Manchester’s River Irwell reached their highest recorded levels, and last night the Environment Agency issued three flood warnings for areas near the River Ouse. Parts of Hampshire and West Sussex have already seen more than double the average June rainfall.
In Scotland, two yachtsmen were rescued by lifeboat crews and an RAF helicopter after a storm destroyed the sails on their yacht. The “cold, wet and exhausted” men became stranded amid tempestuous waters off the Isle of May on Saturday morning, and were later checked over by paramedics in Fife.
Since the rain began on Friday, firefighters have been forced to rescue people trapped in their cars by flash flooding in the Yorkshire Dales and an 80-year-old pensioner was hospitalised with serious injuries after a collision in the Scottish borders.
And celebrities weren’t immune to the effects of the wet weather either. At Radio 1’s Hackney weekend, rapper Plan B gave a spirited performance as the rain hammered down, slipping and sliding on the stage to the delight of the crowd.
But in Cheshire, a concert by former Jam frontman Paul Weller in Cheshire was cancelled due to heavy rain. Proceedings went on as normal at the Isle of Wight Festival, but music lovers have had to contend with a mudbath of legendary proportions.
The Festival’s promoter John Giddings applauded the “British spirit” that has kept attendees going over the weekend, but admitted that lessons had been learned for the future. Gridlocked drivers forced to sleep in their vehicles after heavy rain rendered car parks unusable and 600 people were stranded on ferries on the Solent because drivers were unable to disembark in the traffic chaos.
"We knew it was going to happen, we were prepared, we knew there would be adverse weather conditions, it was just slow and we caused a great traffic jam and I am sorry to all those who got stuck in it,” he said. In what will surely come as no comfort to departing festivalgoers, the Met Office is predicting sunshine and temperatures of 17C for the Isle of Wight tomorrow.
An Environment Agency spokeswoman said there was now a battle to help those affected by the floods as quickly as possible.
“We have been very much in recovery mode now so there’s lots of work going on to shoring up flood defences and pumping water from affected areas,” she said, adding that as the ground has hardened over the last few months, Britain has become more susceptible to flooding.
“We’ve had this crazy situation where we’ve had droughts and floods within months of each other. The normal pattern is to have rain in the winter to fill up the groundwater reservoirs, and then those supplies are used up in the summer.” Instead, the winter was largely dry, while a Meteogroup forecaster claimed we could be facing “one of the wettest Junes of the last 100 years”.
The situation is looking up, however. Met Office forecaster Rebecca Sherwin said today “should be much drier. There will be some showers in the East, but overall it’s going to be quite warm. We’re looking at temperatures in the low twenties and up to 22C in London.”