In December 2015, Storm Desmond set a new record, with 341.4 millimetres of rain falling over a 24-hour period. This led to flooding in Cumbria. One town particularly affected was Cockermouth, despite the construction of a self-closing flood barrier in the town in 2013 as a response to flooding in previous years.
The warm air from the mid-Atlantic caused relief rainfall over the Cumbrian Mountains. The warmer the air, the more moisture it holds.
Following the earlier 2009 floods in Cockermouth, a flood prevention scheme was implemented. River dredging was used to increase the capacity of the river channel so it could hold more water in the future. A self-closing flood barrier was also installed in 2013 to increase the height of the river banks. However, the record breaking rainfall of December 2015 was too much for the barrier to contain.
Flooding is becoming more frequent in the UK. The Environmental Agency is responsible for monitoring the potential for flooding. They evaluate the risk of flooding and issue warnings for areas. They use three codes to help people be able to prepare:
Alerting people to the risk of potential flooding can give the public the chance to evacuate the area, reducing injuries and deaths. Economic losses can also be reduced as people and businesses can move their valuables to a safer area. The government has pledged to spend £2.3 billion on flood defences between 2016 and 2022.