Flash Floods in UK – Is this the new normal?

The Government has recognised flooding as one of the most serious threats facing the country, but why are flood risks in the UK rising?  With global temperatures on the rise, the risk of flooding in UK homes is increasing. If temperatures continue to rise in the way they are predicted to, the risk will only grow greater.

Sadly, this year we’ve started to see the devastating effects that increased flooding can have on families and their homes. From powerful storms like Ciara and Dennis, to flash floods and heavy rains, residents all over the country had to abandon their homes and businesses with little notice.

How much has flooding increased in the UK?

70 flood warning were issued across England in October and November 2019 with large parts of the country submerged underwater. Places hit the hardest included areas of Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Gloucestershire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire. Around 22,000 properties were under protection by flood defences, including nearly 7,000 properties alone in Yorkshire.

Some areas endured their “wettest ever autumns”, with the Met Office Tweeting that its Sheffield weather station had already recorded 427.6mm of rain in November 2019 (with 15 days of the month still to go). The previous record was set in 2000 with 425.2mm of rain falling between September 1 and November 30 that year. However, as we have seen in 2019, and in previous years, the UK frequently sees deluges which deliver rapidly rising water levels in some areas, in very short timescales. Back in 2015 Storm Desmond saw a deluge of 34 cm of rain into the Cumbria area within a single 24 hour period – a rainfall record. And it’s been third time unlucky for Nottinghamshire’s flood-plagued towns.

According to the Met Office, this February was the wettest February in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the second wettest February on record for Scotland. During this month, the record rainfall resulted in record river levels and flooding in several areas of the country.

But this wasn’t an anomaly. Rainfall has been on the increase for a while, with the recent decade facing 4% more rainfall over a five day period compared to 1961-1990. The UK is only getting wetter and now sees 17% more rain during the wettest days.

Why is the risk of flooding rising in the UK?

For the past few months, we saw severe flooding along the North West. While this was partly due to a day of heavy rainfall, it was made worse by increased river flow.

In coastal areas, rising sea levels are contributing to rising flood risks. With global temperatures predicted to rise between 2C and 4C in coming years, current flood defences may not be enough.

The growing UK population is also contributing to the increased risk of flooding in the UK. With new homes being built rapidly, it’s estimated that around 10% of them are in high flood areas.

Is your property at risk of flooding?

 These episodes of extreme wet weather can cause surface water flooding and localised drainage flooding, as well as presenting issues such as rivers bursting their banks. In 2015 and 2020, residents in the North West who have also been hit by storms are some are still battling to clear their homes of floodwater and the debris it leaves behind. But although some of these areas may be notorious for flooding, they are not the only vulnerable spots in the UK. In fact, according to the Environment Agency, approximately 5.9 million properties across Wales and England – that’s one in six homes – are at risk of flooding.

If you’re not sure if your home is at risk of flooding, you can find out using the government’s online service. If there is a flood risk in your area, you’ll also be able to sign up for flood alerts.

Whether your home is a high risk or not, it’s a good idea to be aware of the best action to take before, during and after a flood. You can read all about it on our blog here. While you may not be able to prevent a flood, you can prepare your property and know-how to respond and deal with flood damage as quickly as possible.

If you do suffer flood damage to your property, be it residential or business, we can help. We are experts in our field and work as part of a team of insurance professionals to help you through a difficult time with empathy and professionalism.

Call us now on 01254 665333 to discover how we can help with your insurance claim. Or use the contact form to get our easy 4-step process underway.

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