Study shows last year’s flooding was ‘most extreme on record’ in UK

A recent study into last winter’s devastating floods has shown that the rainfall ranks alongside the most in the last century, and caused the highest amount of flooding to Salford in 70 years.

The study has found that from November 2015 to January 2016 was the wettest three-month period on record dating back to 1910.

After ‘Storm Eva’ brought a month’s worth of rain to the city on Boxing Day, the nearby River Irwell in Salford smashed its highest ever river levels by half a metre.

Greater Manchester was one of the worst affected areas of flooding in the UK, with the Fire and Rescue Service receiving more than 300 flood-related calls.

rainfall-map

 

The heavy rain during late December last year also left thousands of homes without power, with over 20,000 losing power in Rochdale.

The study said: “The flooding attracted much public, media, and political attention, and speculation relating to the effectiveness of flood management strategies.

“The possibility that similar flood episodes may occur in the future underpins the need for more detailed studies to provide resilient flood management strategies.”

Salford City Council were criticised for the failure of recently-built flood defences along the River Irwell, after investing in a 2.2 mile stretch of boulder defences towards the end of 2013, and a £12m project to convert the land north of Castle Irwell Student Village which is close to completion.

But this recent study may give reason as to why Salford suffered the worst flooding damage in 70 years.

“If the rainfall is so extreme then there is always the chance that the best defences are overwhelmed”

Councillor Derek Antrobus, lead member for planning at Salford City Council, said: “The study did not come as a surprise to us, given the scale of the events that we experience last year, I expected that the amount of rainfall would have been unprecedented.

“Certainly the flows on the River Irwell were way beyond we’ve ever experienced before. What we’ve got to do is make sure that people prepare for that eventuality”.

“Everyone has got to work together. There is a community responsibility here to put provisions in place against flooding as well, and the council is offering every support that we can.”

In Cumbria and Lancashire alone last December, 57 severe flood warnings were issued and record peak flows were recorded in many rivers across northern England.

December rainfall totals (mm) for North West England. 2015's rainfall is the clear highest since records began

Alexandra Lynch was working for ‘Pit Stop’ food van who fed hundreds of volunteers last year during the clean-up free of charge.

She said: “Seeing the expressions on the faces of people who had their homes flooded made me so upset.

“On Boxing Day we saw people having to throw Christmas trees, presents and decorations in the road because they were just ruined by the floods. Christmas isn’t even over yet and people’s homes have been gutted out by the floods.”

“My boyfriend’s grandma lived on a ground floor flat, and she lost everything because of the floods. She was sat in the street eating her dinner which was donated to her, crying, because she’s had no help.”

rainfall-map-2

Ms Lynch’s view has been echoed by many around the city. With Castle Irwell’s flood basin being completed “at any time in the next few days” according to Cllr Antrobus, many will be hoping the continued building of flood defences will protect the city.

Against storms like last December’s battering of Storm Eva, however, studies by the CEH argue the case that some forces of nature cannot be stopped.

This article was written for Quays News.

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