Last winter's flooding 'most extreme on record' in UK

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Image caption,
The analysis has been released on the first anniversary of Storm Desmond

Flooding across parts of the UK last winter was the most extreme on record, experts have said.

Gales and heavy rain swept across large parts of the UK, causing devastating flooding in Cumbria and Lancashire, as well as parts of southern Scotland.

On the first anniversary of Storm Desmond, experts say November to January were the wettest three months since UK records began in 1910.

Review author Terry Marsh said flooding was "extensive and repetitive".

Storm Desmond began battering parts of the UK on 5 December, depositing a record month's worth of rain on Cumbria in just one day.

About 5,200 homes were flooded in Cumbria and Lancashire, while tens of thousands more lost power after an electricity sub-station in Lancaster was flooded.

The storm caused an estimated insurance bill of more than £1.3bn.

The appraisal of the winter floods of 2015-2016 reveals they rank alongside the devastating flooding of March 1947 as the largest event of the past century.

As well as Desmond, major storms Abigail, Frank and Gertrude also hit the UK last winter.

Media caption,
Footage showed the moment a bridge collapsed in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire

In Calderdale more than 2,000 homes were affected - the fourth major flood since 2000 for some - and about 1,000 homes were flooded in Leeds as the River Aire burst its banks. In York more than 600 properties were flooded along with the Jorvik Viking Centre museum.

Many bridges were damaged during the floods and the collapse of the 18th Century Tadcaster Bridge over the River Wharfe split the North Yorkshire town in two.

Media caption,
Cumbria flooding: One year on from Storm Desmond

A study by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), in collaboration with the British Hydrological Society, found many rivers across northern England, Scotland and Northern Ireland saw record peak flows during the three-month period.

It said the rivers Eden, Tyne and Lune in England saw record peaks of about 1,700 cubic metres per second. Experts say such levels could fill London's Royal Albert Hall in less than a minute.

Although last winter's floods were more extreme in scale, flooding in 1947 had a greater impact in terms of homes flooded and crops destroyed, the appraisal found.

However, lead author Terry Marsh from CEH said the national scale of last winter's floods were "the most extreme on record".

"The associated flooding was both extensive and repetitive, and total river outflows from Great Britain following the passage of Storm Desmond in December exceeded the previous maximum by a substantial margin," he said.

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