October was an exceptionally mild month but the spatial distribution of the rainfall was again remarkable – triggering flooding in many western and northern regions but increasing long term rainfall deficiencies across much of the English Lowlands where drought conditions are severe in some areas.  Whilst Northern Ireland registered its second wettest October on record, a few places in the South East recorded less than a quarter of the average monthly rainfall. September to October 2011 rainfall averages © NERC (CEH) 2011 © Crown copyright

The above analysis is contained within the latest monthly hydrological summary (for October 2011) produced by the National Hydrological Monitoring Programme, operated by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in conjunction with the British Geological Survey.

High runoff rates in the gathering grounds of most upland reservoirs helped maintain healthy stocks and, despite drawdowns to provide additional flood storage, estimated overall stocks for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland remain well above average.  However, exceptionally dry autumn soils in central, southern and eastern England – which caused problems for lifting and sowing crops – continue to delay the seasonal recovery in runoff rates.

Jamie Hannaford from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology said, “Above average late autumn and winter rainfall is needed in much of central, southern and eastern England to secure a healthy water resources outlook by the spring of 2012.”

The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology jointly operates the National Hydrological Monitoring Programme (NHMP) 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 National River Flow archive. The NHMP has a remit to analyse major flood and drought events in the UK and analyse long term trends in UK hydrological data. The Programme was set up in 1988 and relies on the active co-operation of measuring authorities throughout the UK.

Additional information

Read the full October 2011 Hydrological Summary for the UK [PDF, 2.49mb] 

Hydrological summary archive - dating back to March 1997

Details of the National Hydrological Monitoring Programme

Datasets hosted by CEH: National River Flow Archive, National Water Archive and others

Media enquiries related to the Hydrological Summaries should be directed to the CEH Press Office. Our scientists can provide explanation and analysis of historic hydrological patterns, possible future scenarios under climate change and scientific understanding of the current situation. We are not able to comment on immediate operational issues.

If you wish to reproduce figures from the Monthly Hydrological Summary please respect the copyright credits contained within the document.




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