Publication Date December 5, 2016 | The Independent

Britain just experienced the most extreme flooding on record

United Kingdom

Last winter's floods were the UK's most extreme on record, experts have said.

An appraisal of the winter floods of 2015/2016, published on the first anniversary of Storm Desmond, reveals it ranks alongside the devastating flooding of March 1947 as the largest event of at least the last century.

November 2015 to January 2016 was the wettest three-month period in records dating back to 1910, while December was both the wettest and on average, the warmest on record for the UK.

The highest ever rainfall recorded in the UK was seen at Honister Pass in the Lake District with 341.4mm (13.4 inches) falling in the 24 hours leading up to 6pm on December 5 2015, as Storm Desmond hit.

The storm, which caused an estimated insurance bill of more than £1.3 billion, was part of a persistent pattern of weather which also included the major storms of Abigail, Frank and Gertrude.


The rivers Eden, Tyne and Lune in England saw record peaks of around 1,700 cubic metres per second - a volume of water that could fill London's Royal Albert Hall in less than a minute, the experts said.

Some 16,000 homes and businesses were flooded in December alone, with more flooding in January, although a further 20,000 homes were protected by defences.

Lead author Terry Marsh from CEH said: “At a national scale the winter floods of 2015/16 were the most extreme on record.

“The November to January period was the wettest three-month sequence in the UK rainfall series - which begins in 1910.

“The associated flooding was both extensive and repetitive, and total river outflows from Great Britain following the passage of Storm Desmond in December exceeded the previous maximum by a substantial margin.”