Past three months revealed to be wettest on record


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The Independent Online

This April to June has been the wettest on record across England and Wales, the Environment Agency said today.

As the Midlands and northern England began the clean-up after being battered by the latest torrential downpours, the Agency said the past three months had been the wettest for the time of year across all regions in the two countries.

Last week was another extremely wet week, with 76mm of rain falling across the North West and more than 50mm of rainfall in the North East, South West and Wales.

This month is set to be one of the wettest Junes in records dating back more than a century to 1910. England and Wales have already received more than double the long-term average rainfall for the month.

Nearly half of the rivers the Environment Agency monitors are at exceptionally high levels, with all rivers higher than or at normal levels for the time of year.

Levels at all but three reservoirs are classed as normal or higher for this time of year, while groundwater levels are largely improving after two dry winters in a row left much of England in drought conditions.

But four water companies, Sutton and East Surrey Water, South East Water, Veolia Water Central and Veolia Water South East, which rely heavily on groundwater from chalk aquifers for customer supplies, still have hosepipe bans in place.

Polly Chancellor, national drought co-ordinator, said: "The wettest April to June on record has meant that river and reservoir levels across England and Wales are now normal or above for the time of year, but in some parts of the country, flooding has caused serious problems.

"Groundwater levels are now largely improving."

And she said: "We are continuing to closely monitor the situation and are working with water companies and others to plan for the impacts of a potential third dry winter."

In the face of the increasingly wet conditions, the Environment Agency will no longer be updating the public on drought on a weekly basis.

Even before the latest storms, this June was the second wettest on record across the UK, according to the latest data from the Met Office.

The figures, which do not include yesterday's torrential rain across parts of the country, show the UK had received an average of 130.1mm of rainfall (5.1 inches) up until June 27.

The figure is just 6mm off the total for 2007, which was the wettest June on record dating back more than a century. That year swathes of England were hit by flooding in June and July.

Wales has already seen its record for the wettest June tumble, with the country receiving 186.3mm (7.3 inches) of rain this month, beating the previous wettest June in 1998 when 183.1mm (7.2 inches) fell.

Overall Scotland has had a reasonably average June, but while it has been exceptionally dry in the north west, southern and eastern parts of the country has seen the same wet conditions suffered by the rest of the UK.

It has also been the coolest June since 1991 and unusually dull, with less than two-thirds of the average sunshine for the month.

Yesterday's storms saw extremely heavy rainfall in some areas, with Scampton in Lincolnshire receiving 28.4mm (1.1 inches) in only an hour and other places seeing more than 20mm (0.8 inches) in the same amount of time.

There was also hail and more than 111,000 lightning strokes over the UK, with 1,000 in a five minute period across the country at the peak of activity.