Map of the Week: Very boisterous weather
"November," say the scientists, "was a singular month in hydrological terms".
There is almost a tone of boyish zeal in the latest report from the Hydrological Survey for the United Kingdom, with the experts describing the "very boisterous weather conditions and exceptionally high rainfall" which swept across most of the country last month.
If your working life centres on rainfall and river flow data, you may be forgiven for allowing your enthusiasm to permeate through the normally objective and dispassionate narrative. Records were broken all over the place.
"The UK registered its wettest November on record (in a series from 1914) and, more remarkably, a new 24-hr maximum rainfall for the UK was established in the Lake District", the survey people report today [2.1Mb PDF].
As I reported here last month, Seathwaite Farm in Borrowdale experienced 316.4mm in just 24 hours - an event likely to occur only once every two thousand years. Today's report reveals how "the site also recorded remarkable totals of 402mm over 37 hrs and 495mm over 4 raindays (provisionally 4000 & 3000 years)".
It wasn't just the Lake District, of course. Overall, UK rivers disgorged more water into the sea last month than in any since they first started measuring these things back in 1961.
"Very exceptional flows" were recorded "from north Wales to well into Scotland". The River Nith was higher than it has been in November in a 53-year series. Severe flooding in Northern Ireland saw Lough Earn spill over "causing extensive agricultural flooding".
Boy, did it rain. "In contrast to much of 2009," the scientists say, "November saw a relentless sequence of low-pressure systems crossing the British Isles". It was wet on all but two or three days culminating in extreme rainfall totals, particularly across high ground in the Lake District.
"With catchments saturated and most responsive rivers in high spate, the extreme rainfall over the 17-20th triggered a devastating flood episode in Cumbria," the report reminds us. "Many rivers in the Lake District (including the Derwent, Cocker and St Johns Beck) exceeded their previous maximum flow by a wide margin as did outflows from Windermere (in a 70-year series)."
They refer to "very severe impacts on communities", the collapsed bridges and landslips contributing to severe transport disruption.
If there was any good news, it was that the heavy rain filled up the reservoirs. "Entering the winter," they report, "the water resources outlook is notably healthy in almost all regions but, with catchments generally saturated, many river basins are very vulnerable to further significant rainfall."