Hopes high for dry winter despite floods in the South West

The Environment Agency and Met Office have allayed fears that the UK could be heading toward a period of prolonged rainfall and extreme weather conditions that led to devastating floods last autumn.

The South West was hit by an intense period of heavy rainfall over the last week, leading to five flood alerts issued by the Environment Agency.

A South West Water Spokesperson said: “Our waste water networks teams were kept very busy during and following heavy rainfall across the South West Water region this week, but we were well prepared following alerts issued by the Met Office and our own weather systems.

“We prioritised customers reporting internal flooding but also attended a large number of external floodings.”

However, Mike Dunning from the Environment Agency in the South West told UtilityWeek the localised flooding yesterday was “not much grand scheme of things” compared to the floods that hit the UK a year ago.

“It’s not flooding from rivers or the sea it more where the drains can’t cope with the sudden downpour. It is tricky to predict because we can get flooding at any time of the year.

“As the summer draws to a close and we move into the autumn you would expect to get a few showers,” he said.  

Pat Boyle from the Met Office said that although the rainfall had been intense, compared with last year the UK had seen a dry summer, which meant flooding was confined to surface water flooding rather than more disruptive river flooding.

“What we would be concerned about is if we get a prolonged period of rain but that is not on the cards at the moment,” she said.

Boyle added that there was “nothing to indicate” that rainfall over the next month would be any different to the usual weather for patterns for this time of year.

South West Water said it did not expect such heavy rain this weekend but had staff on standby “should there be any problems”.