High river flows dominate in UK during 2015/2016 winter

February 2016 was a month of contrasting conditions, beginning wet and mild and ending cold and dry. Soils remained saturated. Average river flows for the winter (December to February) were the highest on record for a large number of northern and western catchments. 

Combined river flow outflows during the winter from Great Britain were the highest on record (in a series from 1961). 

The assessment is contained in the latest monthly hydrological summary for the UK, the most authoritative analysis of water resources status in the country. The monthly summaries are produced by the National Hydrological Monitoring Programme, operated by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in conjunction with the British Geological Survey.

High river flows resulted from the unsettled conditions early in February (including the named storms ‘Henry’ and ‘Imogen’) which contributed to the second wettest winter for the UK (in a series from 1910).

Groundwater levels generally remained in the normal range or above, notably so in parts of northern England and along the south coast. The majority of the UK’s reservoirs remained close to capacity and overall stocks for England & Wales were above average. 

Summary author Katie Muchan of the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology said, " The dry weather over the latter part of the month has moderated the risk of surface water and groundwater flooding, although with soils saturated and river flows and groundwater levels generally in the normal range or above, many regions of the UK remain sensitive to additional rainfall.”

A PDF of the full 12-page February 2016 summary can be downloaded here.

Winter 2015 2016 river flows

The monthly summary is a look back at hydrological events occurring in February 2016. Latest information on flood warnings is provided by the Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales and Scottish Environment Protection Agency (flood warnings for Northern Ireland are not available).

The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology jointly operates the National Hydrological Monitoring Programme (for the UK) in conjunction with the British Geological Survey. NHMP scientists produce the UK Monthly Hydrological Summary which assesses rainfall, river flows, groundwater and reservoir levels. They also operate the UK’s National River Flow archive.

The NHMP also has a remit to analyse major flood and drought events in the UK and analyse long-term trends in UK hydrological data. The UK Monthly Hydrological Summary is normally published on, or before, the tenth working day, of the following month. A Hydrological Outlook for the UK is also available, and is updated monthly. The outlook published in February 2016 can be viewed here.

Additional information

Read the full February 2016 Hydrological Summary for the UK
Details of the National Hydrological Monitoring Programme
Latest Hydrological Outlook for the UK
National River Flow Archive


 

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