England needs ‘weeks of rain’ to stop drought next year as temperatures surge

·3-min read
England needs ‘weeks of rain’ to stop drought next year as temperatures surge

England needs “weeks of rain” to stop the drought which is impacting multiple parts of the country experts have warned.

With London expected to experience temperatures reaching 36C on Saturday and Sunday, executive director for local operations at the Environment Agency, John Curtin, has warned large amounts of rain is now needed to replenish water sources.

Due to the low rainfall this year, Mr Curtin warned the England could face a drought stretching into next year, if we do not have a above average rainfall this autumn and winter.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s World At One, Mr Curtin said: “Mainly it is a signal that this is not a normal summer now, so that water will be an issue and probably will be an issue for months ahead, depending how the winter goes.”

He added: “It all depends on the weather I’m afraid. There will be heavy showers probably Monday, Tuesday next week.

“But please, don’t think that will stop the drought because we’re talking about that we’ve lost a week’s worth of rain and it’ll take weeks of rain, we’ll need probably average or slightly above average rainfall this autumn into this winter for us to not be in a drought next year.”

Eight areas in the UK have been placed in drought conditions: Devon and Cornwall, Solent and South Downs, Kent and south London, Hertfordshire and north London, East Anglia, Thames, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire, and the east Midlands.

Three water companies – Welsh Water, Southern Water, and South East Water – have all imposed hosepipe bans, while Yorkshire Water has announced a ban will start on August 26 and Thames Water is planning one in the coming weeks.

The London Fire Brigade has also issued a warning to the public due to what it “tinderbox dry” conditions, which can cause fires to spread rapidly.

In the first week of August, the brigade responded to 340 grass, rubbish and open land fires, compared to 42 in 2021.

Sadiq Khan has said he is “seriously concerned” London may experience severe flash flooding following the extended period of dry weather, with the capital “unprepared” for the heavy rain that may yet come.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service on Friday, the Mayor of London said he was concerned we could see a repeat in the coming weeks.

Mr Khan said: “Just over a year ago we saw flash flooding in London that affected people’s homes, businesses, Tube stations. I’m really concerned that we could see extreme hot weather followed by really short periods of massive rain.

“We saw last year, I think, two months’ worth of rain in two hours. So, I don’t think we can ever be prepared for that, because we’re a city not used to that level of rain in a short period of time. And, again, that’s one of the consequences of climate change that we’ve got to recognise. These are things happening far more regularly than they did previously.”

While insisting the UK is in a “strong position” to handle the dry conditions, Environment Secretary George Eustice, warned that the public must show “restaint” to preserve supplies.

“If we have another dry winter on top of a very dry summer, the risk for 2023 does become greater,” he said.

“And that’s why it’s important that the latter part of this summer that we show some restraint, because while we are likely to get those usual winter rains that will replenish stocks inour reservoirs, there is a risk that we’ll have a dry winter following a dry summer.”