29 Dec 2015

Storm Frank likely to bring more flooding

Just days after serious flooding across northern parts of England, yet another spell of wet and windy weather is likely to bring further flooding problems to northern parts of the UK.

Storm Frank, the fifth to be named so far this season, will deliver more severe weather, with a raft of warnings issued by the Met Office for both severe gales and heavy rain.

With many flood-hit areas still clearing up from the past few days and weeks, the concern is that some places could once again find themselves under water.

A man carries groceries into a flooded pub in York city centre, Britain December 28, 2015.   REUTERS/Darren Staples TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX20A4S

Flooded street in York (Picture: Reuters)

Why so much flooding?

Low pressure after low pressure has targeted the north and west of the UK during November and December, bringing copious amounts of rain.

In fact north Wales, north west England and southern parts of Scotland have had more than double the average rainfall in both months.

This has caused the ground to become saturated, leaving it with no capacity to soak up any more water, meaning that when Storm Desmond hit with a record breaking 341mm of rain in 24 hours, serious flooding occurred.

The areas of the UK that have been hit by flooding are used to seeing rain and gales at this time of year, but what has been unusual is the persistence and intensity of the rainfall.


Picture: Met Office

With the ground so saturated so widely, we are now at a point where even modest amounts of rainfall can cause significant flooding – as has been seen in Cumbria, where Glenridding has flooded multiple times in a few weeks.

How much rain will Storm Frank bring?

Whilst Storm Frank will bring severe gales, the main concern will be the heavy rain that is expected to fall later on Tuesday and into Wednesday.

At the moment, the areas of greatest concern are Cumbria, south and west Scotland, along with parts of Northern Ireland, where amber “be prepared” warnings have been issued for heavy rain.

In these areas, as much as 60mm of rain is expected to fall widely, with as much as 100-150mm over the hills and mountains of Cumbria and Scotland.

The rest of the north west of the UK is covered by a yellow “be aware” warning, with 20-40mm of rain likely to fall.

This amount of rain falling on saturated ground will bring a renewed risk of both river and surface water flooding – highlighted by the Environment Agency and Scottish Environment Protection Agency.


Picture: Environment Agency

Severe gales an additional hazard As well as the rain, strong winds will affect the UK later on Tuesday and during Wednesday, bringing a risk of transport disruption.

The strongest winds are expected across western areas, where gusts of 50-65mph are likely inland, with gusts of 70-80mph around exposed coasts and hills.

Given that the ground is soft from all the rain that has fallen, the possibility of trees being blown over is somewhat greater.

Any signs of calmer weather?

Unfortunately, the unsettled weather looks likely to continue into the new year, with further areas of low pressure threatening to move in off the Atlantic.

However, there are signs that they will be less frequent and not as severe as what we have experienced during the past few weeks.

Also, there is a chance that it may turn colder, which would mean that the rain could fall as snow over the hills and mountains.

This would moderate the speed and amount of water that enters the river systems, as it would be stored as snow until the time at which it melts.

Nevertheless, given how saturated the ground is at present, it is likely to be the case that the risk of flooding is going to remain problematic for the remainder of this winter – especially if the wet and windy theme persists.

Don’t forget, you can get the latest forecast on the Channel 4 Weather website.

I’ll also be posting updates on Twitter – @liamdutton



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