British Red Cross volunteers help with mopping up after eighth named storm in three months

British Red Cross volunteers help with mopping up after eighth named storm in three months
8 January 2024

By the Climate Centre

The UK Environment Agency yesterday called on the public to remain vigilant after the prolonged wet weather and severe flooding that has affected parts of England and is only now forecast to subside.  

As of late Sunday, 167 flood warnings and 175 alerts were still in place, and Environment Agency teams were deployed “with other emergency responders operating around temporary pumps, barriers and flood defences to help reduce impacts,” the agency said.

The British Red Cross, whose teams have also been out in flooded communities over the Christmas holiday period, re-shared advice to residents via social media on how to stay safe.

The National Society supported rest centres for people who had been washed out of their homes in the counties of Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, and most recently volunteers went door-to-door in several areas to check on the welfare of residents impacted by Storm Henk – the eighth named storm in three months.

The Climate Centre’s science lead, Liz Stephens, said today: “River catchments across the country have been saturated since Storms Babet and Ciaran in October and early November, loading the dice for floods in the winter rainfall.

“In many places along the River Thames, for example, water levels have been higher than previous severe floods in 2003, 2007 and 2014.

“As in 2014, these floods have followed a very wet autumn, with climate change now expected to increase the risk of wet winters and flooding.”

Since 2015 storms that cross certain thresholds in terms of wind, rain or snow are named jointly by the met services of the UK, the Netherlands and Ireland.

‘River catchments across the country are saturated, loading the dice for floods
in the winter rainfall’

The Met Office’s Science Fellow for Climate Extremes, Emily Wallace, said Friday that despite “large variability in annual, seasonal, and decadal rainfall, there has been a marked increase in winter rainfall in the most recent decade”.

She continued: “As the atmosphere warms due to human induced climate change it can hold more moisture, at a rate of around 7 per cent more moisture for every degree of warming.

“On a simple level, this explains why in many regions of the world projections show an increase in precipitation as a consequence of human-induced climate change.”

The UK as a whole saw 11 per cent more rain than average last year, the Met Office says, with Northern Ireland having its third wettest year in a record begun in 1836; England had its sixth wettest year in the same series.

British Red Cross and Salvation Army volunteers assembled at the Boat Inn in Loughborough over the weekend to prepare to support residents affected by the flooding. (Photo: British Red Cross emergency response team for Leicestershire and Rutland via Twitter)