Terry Marsh, Celia Kirby, Katie Muchan, Lucy Barker, Ed Henderson & Jamie Hannaford

Centre for Ecology and Hydrology | British Hydrological Society

Published date December 5, 2016

The winter floods of 2015/2016 in the UK - a review

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. Correspondingly, river flows across much of the country exceeded bankfull for extended periods.

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.

Terry Marsh, lead author from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

  • Confirms that the winter flood event of 2015/2016 in the UK was one of the most extreme and severe hydrological events of the last century
  • Uses river flow and meteorological data to analyze the events that led to extensive river flooding in northern England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and parts of Wales over a three month period
  • Finds that the Winter 2015/2016 episode ranks alongside the floods of 1947 as one of the two largest flood events of the last 100 years at least
  • States that Storm Desmond alone caused an estimated insurance bill of more than £1.3 billion when it struck on the 5th and 6th December last year
  • Highlights that 16,000 properties in England were flooded during the three months of 'remarkably persistent and exceptionally mild cyclonic' activity which, along with Storm Desmond, included the major storms of Abigail, Frank and Gertrude