Skip to main content

Record rainfall leaves parts of England under water

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 11:55 AM EST, Sat February 1, 2014
Residents use a boat to navigate flood waters after a flash flood on Saturday, February 1, in Limerick City, Ireland. Residents use a boat to navigate flood waters after a flash flood on Saturday, February 1, in Limerick City, Ireland.
HIDE CAPTION
Wind and rain batter Europe
Wind and rain batter Europe
Wind and rain batter Europe
Wind and rain batter Europe
Wind and rain batter Europe
Wind and rain batter Europe
Wind and rain batter Europe
Wind and rain batter Europe
Wind and rain batter Europe
Wind and rain batter Europe
Wind and rain batter Europe
Wind and rain batter Europe
Wind and rain batter Europe
Wind and rain batter Europe
Wind and rain batter Europe
Wind and rain batter Europe
Wind and rain batter Europe
Wind and rain batter Europe
Wind and rain batter Europe
Wind and rain batter Europe
Wind and rain batter Europe
Wind and rain batter Europe
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Southeast and central southern England had more than twice the usual rainfall in January
  • Rainfall there in the first 28 days of January was the highest since records began in 1910
  • Parts of southwest England have been under water for nearly a month
  • The bad weather continues, with a number of flood warnings issued this weekend

London (CNN) -- After violent December storms put a damper on many people's holiday season, this January was the wettest on record for parts of England.

Met Office figures for January 1-28 show that southeast and central southern England had more than twice the usual amount of rain.

A whopping 175.2 millimeters (nearly 7 inches) of rain fell in that period -- easily submerging the previous record of 158.2 millimeters, set in January 1988.

Final figures for the month have not yet been released, but the totals are expected to go up, since the rain has kept on coming down in many areas.

Meanwhile, southwest England and south Wales had their fifth wettest January since records began in 1910, according to the Met Office, and some areas have suffered dire flooding.

The torrential rain has left villages on the Somerset Levels, a low-lying area of southwest England, under water for almost a month.

The situation is so bad that the government's emergency committee, known as Cobra, has met to discuss what to do.

Cameron: 'Not acceptable'

British Prime Minister David Cameron acknowledged Friday in a piece written for the Western Daily Press, a newspaper published in southwest England, that the government had been slow to act.

"Like everybody across the country I feel enormous sympathy for the people who live on the Somerset Levels and are suffering from the devastating impact of the flooding," he wrote.

"I know that a great deal of work has been done to try and alleviate the situation but it is not acceptable for people to have to live like this almost four weeks later -- and I am not ruling out any option to get this problem sorted out."

Military planners have been sent in to work with local authorities, he said, and a 24-hour pumping operation is now running to try to drain off the excess water from the Somerset Levels.

Local residents have complained that the Environment Agency has neglected to dredge rivers over past years, exacerbating the risk of flooding.

But the Environment Agency said in an online statement Tuesday that "increased dredging of rivers on the Somerset Levels would not have prevented the recent widespread flooding because of the sheer volume of rainfall."

As many as 40 homes and 65 square kilometers of land (25 square miles) are flooded, the agency said.

Local and national newspapers have shown dramatic images of inundated homes, submerged fields and impassable roads, with some residents -- and emergency responders -- forced to use boats to get around.

Flood warnings, flights affected

The sodden month of January may now be over, but the bad weather persists this weekend.

The Environment Agency has warned that high tides and gale force winds could bring more flooding in some coastal areas, and nine severe flood warnings are in place.

At the same time, continued rain may cause river flooding in parts of southern England where the ground is saturated and water levels are already high, the agency said.

Stormy, gale force winds in Ireland have also affected some flights at Dublin Airport. Passengers are advised to check their flight status before traveling, the airport said Saturday.

The Irish Met Office warned that coastal flooding is also likely Saturday for coastal counties in the country's west and south, thanks to the high winds, extremely high seas and very high spring tides.

CNN's Per Nyberg contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Severe weather
updated 9:58 AM EDT, Sat April 26, 2014
Here are 10 facts about one of nature's most powerful forces.
updated 10:46 AM EDT, Wed August 7, 2013
Get a glimpse of the weather events happening around the world by clicking through our photo gallery.
updated 5:57 AM EST, Sat February 9, 2013
In our increasingly digital world, a mobile phone or other portable device is often a one-stop communication device.
updated 7:39 PM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
Water jugs and batteries are not the only things to consider when extreme weather threatens.
can opener
All you need to know about keeping your food safe to eat and what to have on hand in the event of a weather emergency.
updated 10:53 AM EDT, Thu April 3, 2014
Getting the latest warnings when tornadoes are headed your way and knowing what to do before, during and after one hits are all key to staying safe. A handful of apps can help you stay on top of impending dangerous weather.
updated 11:31 AM EDT, Thu May 30, 2013
You've just that heard a tornado is headed directly toward you. You don't have a safe room, and you're not near a shelter. Do you hunker down and hope for the best or do you flee?
updated 11:31 AM EDT, Sun April 27, 2014
Here are the 10 deadliest tornadoes to touch down in the United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:
updated 7:07 PM EDT, Wed July 17, 2013
Weather experts agree: When lightning strikes, it's best to go indoors.
updated 4:11 PM EDT, Wed April 2, 2014
A tornado is a funnel-shaped cloud that forms under thunderclouds and contains rapidly rotating air.
ADVERTISEMENT