Further evidence of the extraordinary weather conditions last month has been revealed, with some areas seeing record-breaking river flows, rainfall and groundwater levels.
Three rivers had the largest flow ever recorded for rivers in England after Storm Desmond, one of a series of storms that brought heavy rainfall and flooding last month, according to the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH).
The Eden and Lune in north-west England and the Tyne in the North East all recorded flows of around 1,700 cubic metres per second, many times the average rate of 53 cubic metres per second for the Eden, 45 for the Tyne and 36 for Lune. The flow of 1,700 cubic metres per second is the equivalent of 41 Olympic swimming pools of water going past the measuring gauge every minute - a rate that would fill the Royal Albert Hall in less than a minute.
There were also exceptional flows in the Boxing Day flooding, with many large rivers coming out of the Pennines experiencing their highest flows in records dating back more than 50 years, including the Nidd, Wharfe, Aire and Irwell.
Many rivers also saw exceptionally average flows for December as a whole, as the UK was hit by the wettest month in records dating back to 1910 following a wet November that had already seen rivers on the rise.
The heavy rainfall and high river flows led to devastating flooding, in which thousands of homes and businesses were inundated, bridges collapsed, landslides were caused and transport and infrastructure were hit.
Jamie Hannaford, head of the National Hydrological Monitoring Programme, said the widespread nature of the sustained, very high river flows in December was “remarkable”, adding that “many large catchments in northern Britain recorded their highest ever peak flows and/or monthly mean flows”.