Publication Date March 3, 2020

Climate woes grow amid wettest February on record

United Kingdom
Climate change is increasing extreme rainfall and flooding

Climate Signals Summary: Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme rainfall events, and these events often lead to severe flooding

Article Excerpt: Last month was the wettest February in the UK since records began in 1862, according to the Met Office.

The UK received an average of 209.1mm of rainfall, 237% above the average for the month between 1981 and 2010.

Elsewhere, a survey suggested that almost a quarter of people felt that climate change was the "most pressing issue facing the UK".

The representative sample of 1,401 people also suggested that "climate concern" had doubled since 2016.


Storm Dennis also delivered the second highest UK average daily total in a dataset that dates back to 1891.

Ciara and Jorge also dropped enough rain to feature in the top 0.5% of days for UK average rainfall.

"Having three such widespread extreme rainfall events in the same calendar month is exceptionally rare," said Dr Mark McCarthy, head of the National Climate information Centre.

"Met Office ground-breaking research has contributed to a growing body of evidence that [suggests] extreme rainfall is a significant risk factor for the UK, and that climate change has increased the likelihood of extreme rainfall events."


The arrival of the three named storms during February meant that a number of river systems were unable to cope, resulting in thousands of homes in Yorkshire, Wales and the West Midlands being flooded.

John Curtin, executive director for the Environment Agency's Flood and Coastal Risk Management, said the record rainfall and river levels had tested the nation's flood defences, and had been able to protect more than 80,000 homes.

However, he added: "Every flooded home is a personal tragedy, and with a changing climate we will need to become more resilient to flooding."