THE flooding that has ravaged York and left the area surrounding Clifford’s Tower resembling a moat look set to be repeated as autumn draws in amid fears the region’s sodden ground will struggle to absorb more rainfall.
While the worst of this week’s rain has eased off, forecasters are predicting weather conditions will remain unsettled throughout next month and the Environment Agency has warned this may leave water falling on soil already saturated by the washout summer and this week’s torrential downpours with nowhere to go but straight into rivers.
It could cause waterways to rise to dangerous levels like those seen in the River Ouse yesterday morning, when levels were more than five metres higher than the summer average, the second highest since records began.
It would also spell more misery for the region’s farmers, whose harvests were hit hard by the summer floods and whose waterlogged fields are now posing major difficulties for drilling and planting for next year’s crops.
An Environment Agency spokeswoman said: “If it does continue to remain wet, then obviously the water hasn’t got anywhere to go other than straight into the rivers, so it does increase the risk of further flooding.”
The legacy of the summer floods has exacerbated the devastation of this week, which has seen the UK’s most intense September storm for 30 years.
“In the last week there has been exceptionally high rainfall, in some places 150mm in the last four days, so there would have been flooding anyway,” she said. “But the wet summer has led to the ground not being able to take as much water.”
Around 300 homes have been inundated in North Yorkshire as floodwater has moved down the river system and a number of people have had to be rescued from the York and Selby areas.