April deluge 'won't halt drought'

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

 

Most of the UK faced heavy showers today - but this month's deluge of rain will not be enough to avert a drought across parts of the country.

There were scattered showers across almost all of Britain, with persistent rain in west Wales and Scotland, forecasters said.

Parts of the North East also saw heavy downpours, resulting in 0.5in (13mm) of rain over six hours in Durham and 0.4in (10mm) in Shap in Cumbria.

Nick Prebble, forecaster at the MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "There are still some fairly slow moving heaving downpours all over the country.

"Throughout April we have seen 175% more rain than would be normal, totalling 94.3mm (3.7in)."

However, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman today said the rain would not avert the drought and water companies were right to impose a hosepipe ban.

She told MPs the Government was well prepared for this summer's drought as they had "seen it coming".

But Labour warned there could be a shortage of drinking water as more people were relying on bore holes in their gardens.

The Environment Agency has issued eight flood warnings for south-west England after some areas saw up to 2in (50mm) of rain overnight and this morning during what has been one of the wettest Aprils on record.

But speaking in the House of Commons, Ms Spelman said this month's deluge did not make up for the last two dry winters.

And people should keep their umbrellas to hand as the rain is not set to let up any time soon, Mr Prebble said.

"The rain will be a little less widespread tomorrow, with heavy thundery showers contained to central and south-west England and showers on Saturday," he said.

"However there is quite a big rainfall coming on Sunday, with a band of persistent rain coming north-westwards from France which will have reached southern Scotland by the end of the day.

"Much of the east and west will see very heavy rain on Sunday and most, if not all, of the country will see some rain."

The weather is good news for gardeners, who have welcomed the downpours.

Guy Barter, chief horticultural adviser at the Royal Horticultural Society, said: "The RHS and gardeners welcome the rain we have been having.

"Although several weeks of similar rain are needed to ease the drought and allow hosepipe bans to be lifted, the soil moisture levels are restored after a dry March. As soon as temperatures rise, plants will start growing vigorously.

"Established plants will need no watering, but newly planted plants will need watering when summer arrives. Water butts will have filled nicely by then, even those bought in the recent rush, and their contents can be used in the sunny summer we hope for, when these chilly April showers are long forgotten."

Last night high winds tore through a town, blowing the roof from one home and damaging others in what residents described as a "mini tornado".

Warwickshire Police said a number of properties suffered structural damage as winds battered Rugby from around 6pm last night.

A spokeswoman said: "One house in Adams Street is reported to have had the roof blown off, and another suffered extensive damage when wind blew the chimney stack down.

"Telephone lines have also been blown down in the high winds, which some residents are describing as like a mini tornado."

Residents in Lawford Road reported having tiles blown from their roofs by the "powerful gusts", the spokeswoman added.

No-one was injured by the adverse weather, but police advised motorists and pedestrians in the town to beware of debris from the buildings which was blown into surrounding streets.

The county buildings inspector has been called to assess the damage to any affected buildings.

MeteoGroup forecaster Paul Knightley said it was quite probable a tornado did occur in the area.

Meteorologically speaking, he said, there is no such thing as a "mini tornado" as there are varying degrees of strength when talking about tornadoes, but they are defined as violently rotating columns of air pendant from a thunderstorm cloud, but not their size.

An investigation has yet to be carried out by meteorologists, but damage reported by residents in Rugby that showed a contained and focused area of damage could mean it was a tornado.

Mr Knightley said: "Conditions were reasonably favourable yesterday for tornadoes so it's quite possible that it was.

"If you get an intense swathe of damage it tends to be, or is more likely to be, a tornado.

"If you had an area of damage with no real focus to it, it could just be air dropping out of a storm."

Torro, the tornado and storm research organisation, suggested there was a risk of tornadoes for parts of England yesterday, he added.

Another tornado is reported to have happened near Halstead in Essex at around 4pm yesterday.

PA

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
people70-year-old was most famous for 'You are So Beautiful'
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballLatest score and Twitter updates
Arts and Entertainment
David Hasselhof in Peter Pan
The US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'