Guest blog: Commemorating the 60th anniversary of the 1953 floods

31 01 2013

Craig Woolhouse is Head of Flood Incident Management at the Environment Agency. He looks at how flood risk management has progressed since 1953 and how you can keep flood aware.

Canvey Flood

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the 1953 floods where over 300 people died, 24,500 houses were damaged and over 30,000 people were evacuated. Outside the towns and villages, thousands of animals were drowned and great tracts of farmland were made infertile by salt water. This was one of the worst peace time calamities to hit Britain with Winston Churchill declaring it a “National Disaster”.

Those affected by the floods would have gone to bed without a flood warning and many of the flood defences today along the east coast, including London’s Thames Barrier, didn’t exist at all.

We’re lucky enough to have a lot more tools at our disposal to keep flood aware and safe these days. For example, you can join the 1.2 million people in England and Wales already signed up for free flood warnings. Where there was major loss of life in 1953, major flood defences have been built – for example Canvey Island, Jaywick, Felixstowe, Lincolnshire, Kings Lynn and Great Yarmouth. The Thames Barrier, celebrating its 30th birthday tomorrow as one of the world’s largest moveable defences, was also constructed as a result of the 1953 floods.

There have also been massive improvements in long range flood forecasting since 1953 like the joint Environment Agency and Met Office flood forecasting centre which provides 24/7 flood guidance to emergency services and local authorities.

We’re much better prepared than in 1953 but we cannot afford to be complacent. Despite the low probability, extreme floods like 1953 could strike at any time and we need to be prepared as a country and as communities for when these happen.

Visit the Environment Agency website to see what you can do to stay flood aware.

You can find out more about how weather and flood forecasting has improved on our website.





Overnight wind speeds – Wednesday 30 January

30 01 2013

Following Met Office amber weather warnings for wind in some parts of the UK yesterday, some high gust speeds were recorded late last night and into the early hours of the morning. The highest gust speed at lower levels was recorded at Fair Isle, Shetland which saw speeds of 86 mph this morning, while the highest gust recorded at a mountain site was 135 mph at Cairngorm Summit.

Max gust speed at lower level sites

Date/time Site name Area Elevation Max Gust Speed (mph)
30/01/2013 06:00 Fair Isle Shetland        57 86
30/01/2013 05:00 Lerwick Shetland        82 84
30/01/2013 07:00 Kirkwall    Orkney          26 82
30/01/2013 01:00 Loch Glascarnoch    Ross & Comarty 269 79
30/01/2013 01:00 Stornoway Airport Western Isles 15 78
30/01/2013 04:00 Wick Airport  Caithness    36 75
30/01/2013 00:00 South Uist Range   Western Isles 4 75
30/01/2013 00:00 Tain Range Ross & Cromarty 4 70
30/01/2013 05:00 Altnaharra Sutherland   81 68
30/01/2013 03:00 Wight: Needles Old Battery Isle Of Wight 80 68

Max gust speed recorded at mountain sites

Date/time Site name Area Elevation Max gust speed (mph)
30/01/2013 00:00 Cairngorm Summit Invernessshire 1237 135
30/01/2013 01:00 Aonach Mor Invernessshire 1130 110
30/01/2013 07:00 Cairnwell Aberdeenshire 928 105
30/01/2013 00:00 Bealach Na Ba Ross & Cromarty 773 101
30/01/2013 02:00 Glen Ogle        Perthshire 564 77

Warnings remain in place for wind in some areas, you can keep up to date with the latest severe weather warnings on our website.





The worst storm in years?

28 01 2013

Various articles in the news today said that the weather over the weekend was the worst storm to hit the UK in years, and that there is more to come this week. There was indeed a very deep area of low pressure in the Atlantic over the weekend. At its deepest, on Saturday 26 January, the central pressure of the depression was 932 millibars and it was sitting some 1,800 nautical miles west of the UK. It came closest to the UK during the day yesterday with a central pressure of 950 millibars but was still around 600 nautical miles to the north west of Scotland.

Satellite image from 26 January 2013

Satellite image from 26 January 2013

To put this into context, the storm that affected the UK on 3 January 2012 had a central pressure of 953 millibars but was centred right on the west coast of Scotland and brought winds in excess of 80 mph to the Central Belt and a gust of over 100 mph in Edinburgh. Property was damaged, as well as trees, and there was disruption on the road network and with ferry crossings. Power supplies were also affected significantly.

The storm in January 2012 was therefore much more disruptive and severe than any wet and windy weather we have seen so far this year.

Much of the recent severe weather has been attributed to the phrase “Weather Bomb”, which is not a perfect meteorological term but is defined as an intense low pressure system with a central pressure that falls 24 millibars in a 24-hour period. This happened to the depression over the Atlantic during the weekend but as it was miles away from the UK its impacts were minimal. A better description can be more directly linked to the meteorological phenomena known as rapid cyclogenesis. This is where dry air from the stratosphere flows into an area of low pressure. This causes air within the depression to rise very quickly and increases its rotation, which in turn deepens the pressure and creates a more vigorous storm.





UK snow depths Saturday 26 January 2013

26 01 2013

As forecast, further snow fell across central, northern and eastern parts of the UK yesterday and overnight. The latest snow depth observations as of 0800 this morning for the UK are below. Redesdale Camp in Northumbria has the highest snow depth so far this year with 33 cm recorded.

Location Area Depth (cm)
Redesdale Camp Northumberland 33
Eskdalemuir Dumfriesshire 30
Albemarle Northumberland 25
Spadeadam Cumbria 25
Aboyne Aberdeenshire 20
Bingley West Yorkshire 20
Little Rissington Gloucestershire 18
Leek, Thorncliffe Staffordshire 16
Nottingham, Watnall Nottinghamshire 12
Leconfield Humberside 11
Strathallan Airfield Perthshire 11
Church Fenton North Yorkshire 11
Wittering Cambridgeshire 10
Sennybridge Powys 10
Andrewsfield Essex 10
Dyce Aberdeenshire 9
Cranwell Lincolnshire 9
Linton On Ouse North Yorkshire 8
Wattisham Suffolk 8
Scampton Lincolnshire 8
Marham Norfolk 7
Shap Cumbria 7
Leeming North Yorkshire 7
Boulmer Northumberland 6
Shawbury Shropshire 5
Waddington Lincolnshire 5
Rostherne Cheshire 4
Bridlington MRSC Humberside 4
Hawarden Airport Clwyd 3
Glasgow, Bishopton Renfrewshire 3
Coningsby Lincolnshire 3
Bedford Bedfordshire 3
Coleshill Warwickshire 3
Liscombe Somerset 2
Dunkeswell Aerodrome Devon 2
Drumalbin Lanarkshire 2
Hereford, Credenhill Hereford & Worcester 2
Prestwick, Gannet Ayrshire 2
Odiham Hampshire 1

As we continue through the weekend all of us will see a change to milder and unsettled conditions, with further rain, heavy at times pushing east across the UK later on Saturday and into Sunday. A yellow warning of heavy rain has been issued for parts of the UK overnight tonight

The change to milder weather will result in a combination of a thaw of lying snow and periods of rain which inevitably increases the risk of flooding in some areas. The Met Office and Environment Agency are monitoring the situation very closely and advise everyone to stay up to date with the latest weather forecasts, severe weather warnings, and flood warnings.

By thinking ahead we can all be better prepared for severe weather. Throughout the winter, the Met Office works with agencies across the UK to help keep the country safe, well and on the move.





UK snow depths Wednesday 23 January

23 01 2013

Following further snow fall yesterday and overnight, the latest snow depth observations for the UK are below. Little Rissington in Gloucestershire has the highest snow depth so far this year with 30 cm recorded.

Location Area Elevation Depth (cm)
Little Rissington    Gloucestershire      210 30
Aboyne    Aberdeenshire        140 27
Redesdale Camp       Northumberland       211 26
Albemarle            Northumberland       142 23
Spadeadam Cumbria              285 21
Dunkeswell Aerodrome Devon                252 21
Lough Fea            Londonderry          225 19
Loftus               Cleveland            158 18
Aviemore             Inverness-Shire      228 16
Eskdalemuir          Dumfriesshire        236 15
Bingley West Yorkshire       262 13
Wittering            Cambridgeshire       73 11
Waddington           Lincolnshire         68 10
Leek, Thorncliffe    Staffordshire        298 9
Drumalbin            Lanarkshire          245 9
Wattisham            Suffolk              89 8
Coleshill            Warwickshire         96 8
Liscombe             Somerset             348 8
Brize Norton         Oxfordshire          82 8
Dyce                 Aberdeenshire        65 8
Hereford, Credenhill Hereford & Worcester 76 7
Nottingham, Watnall  Nottinghamshire      117 7
Odiham               Hampshire            118 7
Shawbury             Shropshire           72 7
Cranwell             Lincolnshire         63 7
Leeming              North Yorkshire      33 7
Altnaharra Sutherland           81 6
Marham               Norfolk              21 6
Filton               Avon                 59 5
Larkhill             Wiltshire            132 5
Scampton             Lincolnshire         57 5
Boscombe Down        Wiltshire            126 5
Middle Wallop        Hampshire            90 5
Bedford              Bedfordshire         85 5
Glenanne Armagh               161 5
Kirkwall             Orkney               26 4
Coningsby            Lincolnshire         6 4
Benson               Oxfordshire          57 4
St Athan             South Glamorgan      49 3
Dishforth Airfield   North Yorkshire      33 3
Valley               Gwynedd              10 3
Leconfield           Humberside           7 3
Strathallan Airfield Perthshire           35 3
Tulloch Bridge       Inverness-Shire      249 3
Charlwood            Surrey               67 2
Northolt             Greater London       33 2
Linton On Ouse       North Yorkshire      14 2
Hawarden Airport     Clwyd                11 2
Rostherne Cheshire             35 2
Ballypatrick Forest  Antrim               156 2
Church Fenton        North Yorkshire      8 2

Further snowfall is forecast today and in the coming days, keep up to date with your local forecasts and warnings  on our website.





Infographic: what to do when it snows

22 01 2013

With further warnings for snow in the UK our latest infographic covers what to do before, during and after snow fall.

Infographic what to do when it snows

See our website for the latest severe weather warnings. To find out more about when warnings are issued and what they mean see our guide to warnings.





Overnight minimum temperatures

22 01 2013

Last night temperatures fell to as low as – 12.2 °C in Cambridge. This was close to the lowest recorded temperature of this winter so far, which was -13.4 °C, recorded in Marham, Norfolk on the 16 January.

Minimum temperatures Tuesday 22 January 2013

Location Area Temperature (°C)
Cambridge Cambridgeshire       -12.2
Andrewsfield                        Essex                -11.1
Cavendish                           Suffolk              -10.6
Rothamsted                          Hertfordshire        -10.4
Marham                              Norfolk              -10.3
South Newington                     Oxfordshire          -9.4
Houghton Hall                       Norfolk              -9
Bedford                             Bedfordshire         -8.9
Brooms Barn                         Suffolk              -8.8
Charlwood                           Surrey               -8.5
Northolt                            Greater London       -8.4
Writtle                             Essex                -8.4
Wisley                              Surrey               -8.2
Santon Downham                      Suffolk              -8.1
Monks Wood                          Cambridgeshire       -8

Not everywhere was so cold, with some areas in the Scotland and the south of England and Wales staying above freezing.

Highest minimum temperatures Tuesday 22 January 2013

Location Area Temperature (°C)
Scilly St Marys Airport   Isles Of Scilly 4.7
Isle Of Portland          Dorset          3.7
Harris Quidnish           Western Isles   3.1
Achnagart                 Ross & Cromarty 2.9
Swanage                   Dorset          2.6
Stornoway Airport         Western Isles   2.4
Wight St Catherines Point Isle Of Wight   2.4
Dunstaffnage              Argyll          2.3
Mumbles Head              West Glamorgan  2.3
South Uist Range          Western Isles   2.2

More very low temperatures are forecast over the next few nights, before it turns less cold and wetter over the weekend. See your local forecast and temperature range on our website.





Latest UK snow depths Monday 21 January

21 01 2013

Following further snow yesterday in the central and eastern areas of the country, snow depths over the UK were as follows at 9 am this morning:

Location Area Elevation Snow depth (cm)
Albemarle              Northumberland       142 19
Lough Fea              Londonderry          225 19
Sennybridge     Powys                307 18
Redesdale Camp         Northumberland       211 18
Little Rissington      Gloucestershire      210 17
Wittering              Cambridgeshire       73 16
Bingley         West Yorkshire       262 15
Waddington             Lincolnshire         68 13
Wattisham              Suffolk              89 13
Dunkeswell Aerodrome   Devon                252 13
Nottingham, Watnall    Nottinghamshire      117 12
Gutersloh              Germany              70 12
Cranwell               Lincolnshire         63 12
Coleshill              Warwickshire         96 12
Leek, Thorncliffe      Staffordshire        298 11
Liscombe               Somerset             348 11
Spadeadam   Cumbria              285 10
Filton                 Avon                 59 10
Middle Wallop          Hampshire            90 10
Aboyne    Aberdeenshire        140 10
Aviemore               Inverness-Shire      228 9
Eskdalemuir            Dumfriesshire        236 9
Marham                 Norfolk              21 9
Coningsby              Lincolnshire         6 9
Larkhill               Wiltshire            132 8
Scampton               Lincolnshire         57 8
Brize Norton           Oxfordshire          82 8
Hereford, Credenhill   Hereford & Worcester 76 7
Valley                 Gwynedd              10 7
Bedford                Bedfordshire         85 7
Shawbury               Shropshire           72 7
Charlwood              Surrey               67 6
Manston                Kent                 49 6
Boscombe Down          Wiltshire            126 6
Northolt               Greater London       33 6
Glenanne   Armagh               161 5
Heathrow               Greater London       25 5
Herstmonceux, West End East Sussex          52 5
Dyce                   Aberdeenshire        65 4
Hurn                   Dorset               10 4
Leeming                North Yorkshire      33 3
Linton On Ouse         North Yorkshire      14 3
Leconfield             Humberside           7 3
Shap                   Cumbria              252 3
Hawarden Airport       Clwyd                11 3
Rostherne   Cheshire             35 3
Odiham                 Hampshire            118 3
Benson                 Oxfordshire          57 2
Strathallan Airfield   Perthshire           35 2
Drumalbin              Lanarkshire          245 2
St Athan               South Glamorgan      49 2
Camborne               Cornwall             86.85 1
cloud cover over uk

Satellite image of the UK this morning, cloud is covering the UK which prevents us from seeing the areas covered by snowfall.

Further snow is forecast in some parts, and ice continues to be a hazard in areas that have already seen snow. Keep up to date with the latest forecasts and warnings for your area on our website.





Overnight lows and the latest snow depths

19 01 2013

As forecast temperatures fell well below zero across the UK last night and the heaviest of the snow started to ease in most areas.

The lowest temperature recorded at a Met Office observing station was Edinburgh, Gorgarbank, at -4.3 C and at 9am this morning the deepest snow cover was 27 cm at Lough Fea, Londonderry.

Lowest temperatures overnight 18 to 19 January 2013:

Location Area Temperature (Celsius)
Edinburgh Gogarbank                 Midlothian           -4.3
Lake Vyrnwy             Powys                -4.3
Pennerley                           Shropshire           -4.0
Tredegar Bryn Bach Park     Gwent                -3.5
Crosby                              Merseyside           -3.4
Libanus                             Powys                -3.4
Leek, Thorncliffe                   Staffordshire        -3.3
Little Rissington                   Gloucestershire      -3.3
Sennybridge                    Powys                -3.2
Carterhouse                         Roxburghshire        -3.1
Salsburgh                           Lanarkshire          -3.1
Keele                               Staffordshire        -3
Emley Moor                     West Yorkshire       -2.9
Astwood Bank                        Hereford & Worcester -2.8
Winterbourne                  West midlands        -2.8
Aviemore                            Inverness-shire      -2.7
Bingley                        West Yorkshire       -2.7
Liscombe                            Somerset             -2.7
Pateley Bridge Ravens Nest          North Yorkshire      -2.7
Spadeadam                     Cumbria              -2.7

Snow depths at 9am Saturday 19 January 2012:

Location Area Elevation Snow depth (cm)
Lough Fea              Londonderry          225 27
Sennybridge       Powys                307 22
Little Rissington      Gloucestershire      210 20
Loftus                 Cleveland            158 16
Liscombe               Somerset             348 16
Filton                 Avon                 59 16
Brize Norton           Oxfordshire          82 12
Hereford, Credenhill   Hereford & Worcester 76 11
Nottingham, Watnall    Nottinghamshire      117 11
Larkhill               Wiltshire            132 11
Albemarle              Northumberland       142 10
Cranwell               Lincolnshire         63 10
Benson                 Oxfordshire          57 10
Leconfield             Humberside           7 10
Redesdale Camp         Northumberland       211 9
Middle Wallop          Hampshire            90 9
Boscombe Down          Wiltshire            126 8
Aboyne            Aberdeenshire        140 8
Wittering              Cambridgeshire       73 8
Coningsby              Lincolnshire         6 7
Leek, Thorncliffe      Staffordshire        298 7
Northolt               Greater London       33 7
Leeming                North Yorkshire      33 6
Marham                 Norfolk              21 6
Shawbury               Shropshire           72 6
Bingley          West Yorkshire       262 6
Waddington             Lincolnshire         68 6
Odiham                 Hampshire            118 6
Eskdalemuir            Dumfriesshire        236 5
Hurn                   Dorset               10 5
Scampton               Lincolnshire         57 5
Charlwood              Surrey               67 5
Coleshill              Warwickshire         96 5
Wattisham              Suffolk              89 4
Boulmer                Northumberland       23 4
Dyce                   Aberdeenshire        65 4
Bedford                Bedfordshire         85 3
Trawsgoed              Dyfed                63 3
Church Fenton          North Yorkshire      8 3
Linton on Ouse         North Yorkshire      14 3
Heathrow               Greater London       25 3
Edinburgh, Gogarbank   Midlothian           57 3
St Athan               South Glamorgan      49 3
Herstmonceux, West End East Sussex          52 2

The cold weather is set to continue for the remainder of the weekend and ice is expected to be a major hazard, keep up to date with your local forecast for the latest update.





Updated: Latest snow depths Friday 18 January

18 01 2013

As forecast, many areas of the UK have had heavy snowfall today, particularly in Wales and the south and west of England.

The heaviest snowfall so far has been in Wales, where a red warning is currently in place. Sennybridge in Powys currently has the highest total, with 26 cm of snow recorded at 12 pm today.

somersetsnow

Updated snow depths at 12 pm Friday 18 January

Location Area Elevation Snow depth ( Cm)
Sennybridge Powys 307 26
Dunkeswell Aerodrome Devon 252 15
Filton Avon 59 12
Larkhill Wiltshire 132 11
Liscombe Somerset 348 11
Middle Wallop Hampshire 90 11
Brize Norton Oxfordshire 82 10
Leek, Thorncliffe Staffordshire 298 9
Hereford, Credenhill Hereford & Worcester 76 9
Hurn Dorset 10 6
St Athan South Glamorgan 49 6
Boscombe Down Wiltshire 126 6
Northolt Greater London 33 5
Coleshill Warwickshire 96 5
Aviemore Inverness-Shire 228 5
Boulmer Northumberland 23 5
Trawsgoed Dyfed 63 4
Marham Norfolk 21 4
Shawbury Shropshire 72 4
Scampton Lincolnshire 57 4
Eskdalemuir Dumfriesshire 236 4
Wattisham Suffolk 89 4
Nottingham, Watnall Nottinghamshire 117 4
Wittering Cambridgeshire 73 3
Leconfield Humberside 7 3
Cranwell Lincolnshire 63 3
Dyce Aberdeenshire 65 3
Bingley West Yorkshire 262 3
Odiham Hampshire 118 3
Bridlington Mrsc Humberside 15 3
Heathrow Greater London 25 2
Charlwood Surrey 67 2
Andrewsfield Essex 87 2
Benson Oxfordshire 57 2
Coningsby Lincolnshire 6 2
Church Fenton North Yorkshire 8 2
Rostherne Cheshire 35 2
Albemarle Northumberland 142 2
Redesdale Camp Northumberland 211 2
Aboyne Aberdeenshire 140 2
Yeovilton Somerset 20 1
Aberporth Dyfed 133 1

Snow depths at 2 pm Friday 18 January

Location Area Elevation Snow depth ( Cm)
Sennybridge Powys 307 25
Filton Avon 59 15
Larkhill Wiltshire 132 12
Liscombe Somerset 348 12
Hereford, Credenhill Hereford & Worcester 76 11
Middle Wallop Hampshire 90 11
Brize Norton Oxfordshire 82 11
Leek, Thorncliffe Staffordshire 298 10
Coleshill Warwickshire 96 7
Northolt Greater London 33 7
Boscombe Down Wiltshire 126 7
Shawbury Shropshire 72 7
Hurn Dorset 10 7
St Athan South Glamorgan 49 5
Scampton Lincolnshire 57 4
Nottingham, Watnall Nottinghamshire 117 4
Eskdalemuir Dumfriesshire 236 4
Marham Norfolk 21 4
Yeovilton Somerset 20 4
Heathrow Greater London 25 4
Charlwood Surrey 67 4
Odiham Hampshire 118 4
Wattisham Suffolk 89 4
Trawsgoed Dyfed 63 4
Wittering Cambridgeshire 73 4
Aboyne Aberdeenshire 140 3
Leconfield Humberside 7 3
Cranwell Lincolnshire 63 3
Dyce Aberdeenshire 65 3
Waddington Lincolnshire 68 3
Boulmer Northumberland 23 3
Leeming North Yorkshire 33 3
Bingley West Yorkshire 262 3
Bridlington Mrsc Humberside 15 3
Benson Oxfordshire 57 3
Andrewsfield Essex 87 2
Church Fenton North Yorkshire 8 2
Rostherne Cheshire 35 2
Albemarle Northumberland 142 2
Redesdale Camp Northumberland 211 2
Coningsby Lincolnshire 6 2
Bedford Bedfordshire 85 2

Snow depths at 3 pm Friday 18 January

Location Area Elevation Snow depth ( Cm)
Sennybridge No 2 Powys 307 25
Filton Avon 59 16
Dunkeswell Aerodrome Devon 252 15
Larkhill Wiltshire 132 12
Brize Norton Oxfordshire 82 12
Liscombe Somerset 348 12
Hereford, Credenhill Hereford & Worcester 76 12
Middle Wallop Hampshire 90 10
Leek, Thorncliffe Staffordshire 298 9
Coleshill Warwickshire 96 8
Northolt Greater London 33 8
Boscombe Down Wiltshire 126 7
Shawbury Shropshire 72 7
Hurn Dorset 10 7
Nottingham, Watnall Nottinghamshire 117 6
Heathrow Greater London 25 5
Marham Norfolk 21 5
Odiham Hampshire 118 5
Aviemore Inverness-Shire 228 5
Cranwell Lincolnshire 63 4
Eskdalemuir Dumfriesshire 236 4
Scampton Lincolnshire 57 4
Yeovilton Somerset 20 4
Charlwood Surrey 67 4
Wittering Cambridgeshire 73 4
Wattisham Suffolk 89 4
Trawsgoed Dyfed 63 4
St Athan South Glamorgan 49 4
Benson Oxfordshire 57 3
Leeming North Yorkshire 33 3
Lough Fea Londonderry 225 3
Waddington Lincolnshire 68 3
Bridlington Mrsc Humberside 15 3
Leconfield Humberside 7 3
Bedford Bedfordshire 85 3
Aboyne No 2 Aberdeenshire 140 3
Dyce Aberdeenshire 65 3
Bingley, No 2 West Yorkshire 262 3
Church Fenton North Yorkshire 8 2
Coningsby Lincolnshire 6 2
Andrewsfield Essex 87 2
Rostherne No 2 Cheshire 35 2
Boulmer Northumberland 23 2

Further snowfall is forecast today and tomorrow. Keep up to date with your local forecasts and warnings for the latest information.

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