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Wettest winter since records began


Flooded properties in Chertsey, Surrey

Flooded properties in Chertsey, Surrey

Flooded properties in Chertsey, Surrey

It has been the wettest winter since records began, new figures show.

The heavy torrent of rain that battered England and Wales left flooding chaos in its wake.

The Met Office said that it has been the wettest winter since records began almost 250 years ago.

Around 6,500 properties have been flooded this winter causing many families' lives to be turned upside down and devastation to farmland.

Disruption to travel services, such as the damage to rail services in the west country, have also had detrimental consequences on business and tourism.

Two severe flood warnings - meaning danger to life - remain in place in Somerset, which has been one of the worst-hit areas, while 14 warnings and dozens of alerts remain in place in other parts of England.

The Met Office said that south east and central southern England, some parts of which were badly affected by the flooding, received almost two-and-a-half times their average rainfall.

Meanwhile the south west and south Wales received double the average.

A spokesman said it has been the wettest winter on record across England and Wales - where the precipitation records date back to 1766. Some 435mm (17.1 inches) of rain fell from December 1 to February 24, beating the previous highest total of 423mm (16.6 inches) set in 1915.

And the provisional rainfall figures show that the UK has had its wettest winter since records began in 1910. So me 517.6mm (20.3 inches) of rain fell this winter, the previous highest total was 485.1mm (19.1 inches), set in 1995.

The UK is also on target for the fifth warmest winter since records began in 1910. The average mean temperature so far is 5.2C (41F), making it the warmest since 2007 which was 5.6C (42F). The south has seen 12% more sunshine than average, while Scotland only saw 78% of the average.

"The main reason for the mild and wet winter weather is that we have seen a predominance of west and south-west winds, bringing in mild air from the Atlantic - as well as the unsettled and at times stormy conditions," a spokesman said.

And the weather misery is set to continue after forecasters issued a severe weather warning for snow for tomorrow.

The yellow warning, which means "be prepared", was issued by the Met Office for the last day of winter.

Forecasters said areas on high ground across the Midlands and north of England as well as some parts of Wales, will be most affected.

A spokesman said: " Rain will turn to snow for a time, mainly over the high ground during Friday morning. Over low ground it is unlikely that any snow will accumulate but many areas may see falling snow and slushy deposits for a time.

"The public are advised to be aware of the potential for some disruption to travel especially during Friday morning rush hour."

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: " I chaired this evening's meeting of the Government's emergency committee (Cobra) and received an update on the latest situation regarding the floods.

"Further groundwater flooding is unfortunately expected over the coming days in the South and South East, and may be an issue for some months to come. Local resilience forums continue to assess the risk to property.

"In Somerset, work continues round the clock to pump away water and support people to get back into their homes and businesses as soon as possible.

"Across affected areas all agencies are working well together and extensive efforts are being made to repair and protect damaged properties and infrastructure.

"I want to thank everyone involved for their continued work and would like to reassure the public that we are doing everything we can to support the recovery process."

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