Press release

Environment Agency warns of potential for significant flooding Christmas night into Boxing Day

The Environment Agency is warning of potential for significant flooding through Christmas night and into Boxing Day.

Environment Agency staff clearing flood defences

This news item is not being updated. Read Winter flooding 2015: community support for current information.

The Environment Agency is warning communities in the north of England to prepare for flooding later today (25 December 2015) and into the weekend. Heavy rain is expected across northern parts of the country from late on Christmas Day into Boxing Day. The rain will fall on areas where the ground is already saturated and river levels are high.

Cumbria is the area most at risk from further river and surface water flooding later today and tonight, with parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire also at risk. There is also the potential for some flooding along parts of the River Severn in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin and Worcestershire over the weekend and into Monday.

Environment Agency teams have already been taking action to support communities affected by December’s floods and prepare for more heavy rainfall. The Environment Agency’s Chief Executive, Sir James Bevan, attended a COBR meeting today to ensure that everything is being done to prepare for potentially more flooding and support affected communities.

Additional sandbags were deployed at Appleby this morning with the assistance of the Army supervised by EA staff. Demountable barriers are being deployed at Warwick Bridge and Braithwaite (Keswick) today with assistance of Army supervised by EA staff.

In addition to Cumbria’s existing flood defences, the Environment Agency has transported over three kilometres of temporary flood barriers and more than 20 extra pumps to the north of England. Four of these are high volume pumps capable of moving 1,000 litres of water per second. The Environment Agency is also checking and maintaining flood defences, clearing blockages in watercourses and monitoring water levels. It will issue flood warnings where necessary.

The Met Office confirmed yesterday this is the wettest December on record for Cumbria since records began in 1910.

On Monday and Tuesday (21 and 22 December 2015), rain falling on saturated ground led to a further rise in river levels in Cumbria. This caused flooding to roads and properties previously flooded in Appleby, Glenridding and Burneside.

Since 1 December, many areas in Cumbria have experienced more than two and a half times their expected monthly rainfall. The wettest December on record for Cumbria follows the county’s second wettest November on record. At Keswick, 472mm of rain have fallen since 1 December, the long term monthly average for December is 173mm. At Shap, 677mm has fallen compared with its long term monthly average for December of 215.6mm. On Saturday 5 December, 341mm of rain fell in 24 hours at Honister Pass. This is a new UK record for a 24-hour period.

Paul Mustow, Deputy Director in Flood and Coastal Risk Management at the Environment Agency, said:

Our thoughts are with all those who have had their homes and businesses flooded, some several times, in the run up to Christmas. On Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and throughout the Christmas period our operational teams, contractors, and the military will be working around the clock to do all we can to reduce the potential impacts of flooding and support those communities affected.

With heavy rain expected later today and tonight, we urge people to remain vigilant and check their flood risk or follow @EnvAgency and #floodaware on Twitter for the latest flood updates. We also want to remind people never to drive through flood water: just 30cm of flowing water is enough to move your car.

High tides are also expected around Christmas, bringing with them the potential for isolated instances of large waves and spray along parts of the south and west coast of England. The Environment Agency is advising people to take special care near coastal paths and promenades.

Published 25 December 2015