Winter floods warning as experts predict three months of wetter weather

·3-min read
Cars drive through deep water on a flooded road in The Nine Elms in July (AFP via Getty Images)
Cars drive through deep water on a flooded road in The Nine Elms in July (AFP via Getty Images)

Britons are being urged to prepare for winter floods with a wetter than usual winter on the cards.

Experts predict plenty of rain from November to January with more severe conditions hitting from January.

The Environment Agency (EA) is urging people to check their flood risk online, sign up for flood warnings and know what to do if their home is at risk.

Will Lang, head of civil contingencies at the Met Office, said to expect all weather types with the possibility of snow before Christmas.

“Cold weather spells and impacts such as snow do remain possible, and these cold weather impacts are more likely during the first half of the period, up until Christmas,” he said.

It comes at the start of Flood Action Week which gives advice to residents living in flood risk areas.

A recent survey found 61 per cent of residents in at risk areas did not believe their home could be affected.

While the majority of households at risk have taken steps to protect against flooding, 30 per cent have done nothing.

It means as many as 1.5 million at-risk homes could be vulnerable and unprepared across England.

People walk in the rain in Westminster (PA)
People walk in the rain in Westminster (PA)

Mr Lang said variability was the defining characteristic of UK winters, with and a cold snap looming.

But looking at the big global drivers which impact the weather, such as the La Nina climate pattern in the Pacific, the winter could see milder, wetter and winder conditions coming in from the Atlantic, he added.

Climate change is also steering the country towards a milder than normal winter, weather experts predict.

Knightsbridge was flooded after a heavy night of rain in October (Lucy Young)
Knightsbridge was flooded after a heavy night of rain in October (Lucy Young)

The EA estimates 5.2 million properties in England are at risk from floods.

Those at risk are urged to prepare by packing medicines and insurance documents and visiting the flood warning information service.

In the event of a flood warning, residents are advised to move family, pets and belongings to safety and switch off gas, electricity and water.

Residents facing a severe flood warning are advised to follow advice from emergency services and dial 999 if needed.

Some 250 mobile pumps and 6,000 trained staff are poised to take action to protect against flooding this winter and construction and repair of flood defences has also continued throughout the year, according to the EA.

In October, parts of the country saw a month’s worth of rain in 24 hours with some 79 households flooded.

More than 3,300 properties were protected by flood defences and EA action, it said.

But Caroline Douglass, executive director of flooding at EA, warned “now is the time to be vigilant, not complacent, about flooding.”

EA has protected 314,000 properties from flooding and defences have helped protect nearly 200,000 properties during floods since 2019.

The wine village of Rech in Germany was badly affected by flooding in July (AFP via Getty Images)
The wine village of Rech in Germany was badly affected by flooding in July (AFP via Getty Images)

But despite the organisation investing millions in new schemes and repairs to protect communities, climate change is still happening and increasing the frequency and intensity of storms, she added.

Storm Christoph and other recent storms in the past few years broke records for rainfall or river levels, as well as the deadly flooding in parts of Europe this year.

“We can’t prevent all flooding. Climate change is only increasing that risk and today’s figures show that while some people are prepared, many are not,” she said.

“It’s vitally important for the public to go online and check if they are at risk, sign up for Environment Agency warnings, and know what to do if flooding hits.”

There was also a warning for drivers, as just 30cm of flowing water is enough to float a car.

Tony Rich, from the AA, urged drivers to allow plenty of time for journeys during heavy rainfall as roads could quickly become impassable, and to leave twice as much space from the car in front to allow for greater stopping distances.

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