Risk of winter floods, warn experts

 

The soggy aftermath of Britain's record-breaking wet summer could increase the risk of winter floods, say experts.

Months of monsoon-like weather has left the ground unusually waterlogged for the time of year.

Under the present conditions, a spell of heavy rain might be enough to cause further deluges like those which swamped many homes and businesses this summer.

Despite the winter drought, November to April is traditionally the wettest time of year, when soils around most of the country are close to saturation.

Sarah Jackson, chief adviser to the Government at the Met Office, told journalists: "We are coming into a period which is traditionally the wetter period.

"Because the ground is so wet, if we do have any prolonged heavy rainfall in any part of the country, there is going to be heightened risk.

"We would encourage people to keep an eye on the Met Office severe weather warnings, to sign up for the Environment Agency's flood warning service, and to make themselves aware of what to do."

Paul Mustow, head of flood incidence management at the Environment Agency, said the winter risk of flooding was "relatively heightened" but he did not expect to see "extreme flood events".

He pointed out the difference between "intense" summer downpours and the longer more drizzly spells of rain seen in winter. However, he added: "We would encourage people to think ahead."

An unprecedented turnaround resulted in the driest March on record giving way to the highest level of April to July rainfall seen in England and Wales since 1766.

Despite the Environment Agency issuing more than 100,000 warnings to help people prepare for the worst, hundreds of homes and businesses around the country were flooded.

Five million properties in England and Wales are considered to be at risk of flooding.

Mr Mustow said: "The Environment Agency and Met Office are constantly working to improve their flood forecasting and early-warning systems, and we are improving flood defences to protect communities. However, the most important step people can take in protecting themselves from the worst impacts of flooding is to find out if they are at risk and sign up to the Environment Agency's free flood warnings service.

"As winter approaches we'd encourage everyone to take this one step to help protect themselves from what is recognised as one of the country's major natural hazards."

Ms Jackson said there was no evidence of a climate change trend in the two dry winters the UK had just experienced, but heavy summer rain might reflect a "hint" of global warming. Warmer air trapped larger amounts of moisture and led to more intense rainfall.

"There is some hint but we certainly can't say categorically that the rainfall we've seen this summer is a consequence of climate change," she said. "That's very much the subject of research."

It was possible that a see-saw climate effect called the North Atlantic Oscillation might have entered a negative phase, said Ms Jackson. This would increase the frequency of cold, dry winters, and could also make summers wetter.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Account Payable Assistant - SW London

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Account Payable Assistant - SW Londo...

Recruitment Genius: Bathroom Showroom Customer Service / Sales Assistant

£14560 - £17680 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Even though their premises have...

Recruitment Genius: Finance Manager

£44000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Marketing company based in cent...

Recruitment Genius: IT Installation / Commissioning Engineer - North West

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An IT Installation / Commission...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence