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Flood warnings remain as UK emerges from wettest February on record

A UK average of 202.1mm of rain fell last month, surpassing February 1990 when 193.4mm fell.


Flooding in East Cowick, Yorkshire (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Flooding in East Cowick, Yorkshire (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Flooding in East Cowick, Yorkshire (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Heavy downpours have eased off, giving way to largely cold and bright conditions on Sunday, but hundreds of flood warnings and alerts remain in force following the wettest February on record.

Emergency teams repaired damaged flood barriers in parts of the West Midlands to prepare for high water levels on the River Severn which are expected to peak at between 5.4 and 5.7 metres on Monday afternoon, the Environment Agency said.

Meanwhile, there were no reported evacuations in deluged towns in East Yorkshire for the first night since the flooding started.

Water levels are generally dropping or remaining stable in Snaith, Gowdall, East Cowick and West Cowick, but are expected to remain high for several days, East Riding of Yorkshire Council said.

Parts of Scotland and northern England saw blustery showers, strong winds and snow on Sunday morning, with brighter, chilly conditions in southern parts.

A yellow warning for snow over higher parts of Scotland is in place from 3pm until midnight, with travel disruption likely, said the Met Office.

Average UK rainfall in February
(PA Graphics)

From midnight, an ice warning is in force covering much of eastern and northern Scotland, Northern Ireland, north-west England and north Wales, lasting until 10am on Monday.

A UK average of 202.1mm of rain fell last month, surpassing February 1990 when 193.4mm fell, the Met Office said.

Local authorities will be faced with significant clean-up operations once flooding risks subside and water levels reduce.

Thousands of homes and businesses were flooded as areas were deluged by more than a month’s worth of rainfall in just 24 hours, while some 127,000 properties were protected by flood defences this winter, authorities said.

Men wade through floodwater in East Cowick, Yorkshire
Men wade through floodwater in East Cowick, Yorkshire (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Some 15 rivers in the Midlands, Yorkshire and Lancashire recorded their highest levels on record and the Environment Agency warned the country needs to brace itself for “more frequent periods of extreme weather like this” because of climate change.

The downpours, which started with Storm Ciara and continued with Storm Dennis and then Storm Jorge, contributed to record river levels which saw hundreds of emergency staff working on flood defences and pumps, clearing debris and repairing damaged defences across the country.

The Government has said it is investing £2.6 billion in flood defences by 2021.

A total of 85 flood warnings were in place across England and Wales, mostly in the South West and along the English-Welsh border, and in Yorkshire, while a further 173 “flooding is possible” alerts are also in force.

It represented a reduction of five flood warnings and a reduction of 42 alerts since Saturday evening.

Towns including Ironbridge and Bewdley along the River Severn in the West Midlands, and West Cowick and Lidgate in East Yorkshire, along the River Aire, are among the worst-hit areas in England.

More than 3,300 properties in England are thought to have been flooded as a result of the combined effects of storms Ciara and Dennis, the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs said.

On Tuesday, Welsh Government minister Lesley Griffiths said local authorities in Wales had confirmed more than 1,000 homes had flooded, with reports of more than 300 businesses also affected over the previous two weeks.

The leap year does not affect the wettest February record data, the Met Office said.