Cumbria deluge breaks historic rainfall record

The unprecedented downpour over Cumbria was the highest level of rainfall measured in the country since records began, forecasters said today.

The record-breaking rainfall - reaching 314mm (12.4 inches) in 24 hours - is the highest level witnessed in 44 years.

The reading taken from the Environment Agency's gauging station at Seathwaite Farm exceeds the 279.4mm (11in) recorded in 24 hours in Martinstown, Dorset, in July 1955.

Statistics compiled by MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, show the deluge is the greatest seen since meteorologists started using instruments to record rainfall - back in 1727.

Forecasters described the devastating rainfall over Cumbria as at "historical" levels for the country.

Environment Agency chairman Lord Smith was in Cockermouth this morning.

He said: "This is an extremely serious incident - our thoughts are with those people whose homes have been flooded.

"We have seen unprecedented rainfall, with what we believe is a record amount for a 24-hour period in England." The Environment Agency Floodline service has received more than 12,000 calls from members of the public over the last 48 hours and issued more than 43,000 flood alerts via phone, text, email and fax.

Julian Mayes, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, said the levels of rain in Cumbria were equivalent to five or six months of rainfall typically experienced over London and the south east of England.

"The fact that there's eight feet of water in some places is not that surprising," he said.

"Primarily, it's the sheer quantity in the last 36 hours that has caused the flooding.

"But in November the ground is saturated. The rain can't get into the soil, it just runs off.

"That means rivers rise very quickly and suddenly."

Mr Mayes said the river levels across Cumbria should stabilise throughout the day.

Notable 24 hour rainfall totals in the UK, compiled by MeteoGroup UK:

* Seathwaite, Cumbria, November 19 2009 - 314mm*

* Martinstown, Dorset, July 18 1955 - 279.4mm

* Bruton (Sexey's School), Somerset, June 28 1917 - 242.8mm

* Upwey (Friar Waddon), Dorset, July 18 1955 - 241.3mm

* Cannington, Somerset, August 16 1924 - 238.8mm

* Loch Sloy Main Adit, Strathclyde, January 17 1974 - 238.4mm

* Long Barrow, Devon, August 15 1952 - 228.6mm

* Upwey (Higher Well), Dorset, July 18 1955 - 228.6mm

* Bruton (King's School), Somerset, June 28 1917 - 215.4mm

* Timberscombe, Somerset, June 28 1917 - 213.1mm

* Rhondda (Lluest Wen Reservoir), Glamorgan, November 11 1929 - 211.1mm

* Upwey (Elwell), Dorset, July 18 1955 - 211.1mm

* Kinlochquoich, Highland, October 11 1916 - 208.3mm

* Seathwaite, Cumbria, November 12 1897 - 204.0mm

* Camelford, Cornwall, July 8 1957 - 203.2mm

* Bruton (Pitcombe Vicarage), Somerset, June 28 1917 -200.7mm

* Wynford House, Dorset, July 18 1955 - 200.7mm

* Otterham, near Boscastle, August 16 2004 - 200.4mm

*Figure recorded by the Environment Agency

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'