Met Office Warns about Risk of Unprecedented Rainfall in England and Wales this Winter

The Met Office has warned that England and Wales should remain prepared for “unprecedented” rainfall this winter. In a latest report, the Office said downpours this winter could break monthly rainfall records for these regions and create flood-like situation similar to those experienced in 2014.

During the winter of 2013-14, Southern England and the Midlands were hit by the heaviest rainfall in 100 years. Rainfall caused widespread flooding in the UK. December 2015 was similar when Storm Desmond hit the north-west causing widespread flooding and storm damage.

According to the research, for England and Wales, there is a 1 in 3 chance of a new monthly rainfall record in at least one region each winter (Oct-Mar).

The researchers used a supercomputer to find that there is a greater risk of similar or greater levels of rain and flooding over the next decade.

Professor Adam Scaife, who leads this area of research at the Met Office said “The new Met Office supercomputer was used to simulate thousands of possible winters, some of them much more extreme than we’ve yet witnessed. This gave many more extreme events than have happened in the real world, helping us work out how severe things could get.”

The analysis revealed that south east England faces a 7% risk of record monthly rainfall in any given winter. When other regions of England and Wales are also considered this increases to a 34% chance.

Lead author of the study, Dr Vikki Thompson, said: “Our computer simulations provided one hundred times more data than is available from observed records. Our analysis showed that these events could happen at any time and it’s likely we will see record monthly rainfall in one of our UK regions in the next few years.”

This novel research method has been named the UNSEEN* method by researchers to emphasize that this analysis anticipates possible events that have just not yet been seen.

This review looked at how people:

  • Understand about the risks of river and coastal flooding from extreme weather over the next 10 years
  • assess the resilience of key local infrastructure (such as energy, water, transport and communications), and identify ways to protect it better improve
  • respond to flood incidents, including through new temporary flood defences

The review was set up in January 2016 to assess how the country can be better protected from future flooding and extreme weather events such as during December 2015.