IT HAS been the wettest winter since records began.
The heavy torrent of rain that battered England and Wales left flooding chaos in its wake, exacerbated by a series of storms which battered coastal areas in particular leading to a tidal surge in December.
Yesterday the Met Office revealed it has been the wettest winter since records began almost 250 years ago in England and Wales where the precipitation records date back to 1766. Some 435mm (17.1 inches) of rain fell from December 1 to February 24, beating the previous highest total of 423mm (16.6 inches) set in 1915.
And the provisional rainfall figures show that the UK has had its wettest winter since records began in 1910. Some 517.6mm (20.3 inches) of rain fell this winter, the previous highest total was 485.1mm (19.1 inches), set in 1995.
The UK is also on target for the fifth warmest winter since records began in 1910. The average mean temperature so far is 5.2C (41F), making it the warmest since 2007 which was 5.6C (42F). The south has seen 12 per cent more sunshine than average, while Scotland only saw 78 per cent of the average.
“The main reason for the mild and wet winter weather is that we have seen a predominance of west and south-west winds, bringing in mild air from the Atlantic – as well as the unsettled and at times stormy conditions,” a spokesman said.
Around 6,500 properties have been flooded and farmland has been devastated.
Disruption to travel services, such as the damage to rail services in the west country, have also had detrimental consequences on business and tourism running to tens of millions of pounds.
Two severe flood warnings - meaning danger to life – remain in place in Somerset, which has been one of the worst-hit areas, while 14 warnings and dozens of alerts remain in place in other parts of England.
The Met Office said that south east and central southern England, some parts of which were badly affected by the flooding, received almost two-and-a-half times their average rainfall. The south west and south Wales received double the average.
The weather misery is set to continue today after forecasters issued a severe weather warning for snow in the Midlands and parts of the south.
A Met Office spokesman said: “The public are advised to be aware of the potential for some disruption to travel especially during Friday morning rush hour.”