'Prepare for flooding' homeowners told as forecasters predict wetter than normal winter

The UK could be hit by a wetter than normal winter, experts have warned, with householders urged to be prepared for the risk of flooding.

A Met Office outlook shows there is an above-average chance of the winter being wetter than normal over the next three months. The wetter conditions are most likely in January and February next year.

The Environment Agency today urged people to check their flood risk online, sign up for flood warnings and, if they are at risk, know what to do if flooding hits their home.

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The call comes at the start of Flood Action Week”, as the agency disclosed findings from a survey which suggested three-fifths (61 per cent) of households in flood-risk areas did not believe their property was at risk from flooding.

Flooding in Branch Road, Leeds

Yorkshire has been prone to flooding in recent years, with parts of the region being hit multiple times in the last decade.

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Parts of West Yorkshire and York were deluged on Boxing Day in 2016, with thousands of properties swamped and millions of pounds of damage caused.

And there were similar scenes in autumn 2019 in South Yorkshire, when a month’s worth of rainfall arrived in a day, flooding homes and businesses.

While 70 per cent of households in at-risk areas had taken some steps to prepare for their home flooding, 30 per cent had done nothing – which if replicated across England could mean as many as 1.5 million homes at risk of flooding are unprepared.

The head of civil contingencies at the Met Office, Will Lang, said: “Winters in the UK usually include a wide variety of weather and this winter looks to be no exception. However, when looking at the big global drivers that impact weather in the UK, there are indications this winter could be wetter than normal.

“Although these wetter conditions are most likely in January and February next year, details will become clearer nearer the time and information can be found on the forecast pages of our website.”

The Environment Agency said it has 250 mobile pumps and 6,000 trained staff ready to take action to protect communities from flooding this winter, while construction and repair of flood defences has also continued throughout the year.

In late October, when parts of the country saw a month’s worth of rain in 24 hours, some 79 households were flooded but more than 3,300 properties were protected by flood defences and action the agency took, it said.

But the executive director of flooding at the Environment Agency, Caroline Douglass, said: “Now is the time for us all to be vigilant, not complacent, about flooding.”

She said the agency’s previous investment protected 314,000 properties from flooding, and defences helped shield nearly 200,000 properties during floods since 2019. She stressed the organisation is continuing to invest millions of pounds to build new schemes and make repairs.