July was sunny and dry for much of the UK but high temperatures stimulated some very intense thundery downpours, bringing disruptive flash flooding to many areas.
Nationally, the July rainfall totals were slightly below average. The monthly totals were substantially above average in some areas (notably eastern England) but much of the rain that fell was concentrated in a few torrential showers. As a result of the persistent warm, dry conditions, soil moisture deficits climbed and were above average at the end of the month across much of the country, appreciably so in some areas including Wales and south-west England.
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 (CEH) in conjunction with the British Geological Survey.
River flows and groundwater levels generally declined, as is typical for the time of year, and notably low July flows were registered in some catchments. Groundwater levels remain in the normal range or above, a legacy of the wet winter, which is also keeping river flows elevated in some permeable catchments.
Overall reservoir stocks are near‑average, but marginally below in some reservoirs in Scotland, Northern Ireland and in northern England.
Summary author, Jamie Hannaford from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology said, “The water resources situation is generally favourable for the time of year. Locally depressed flows could lead to ecological stress, but current low flows are not exceptional and are confined to responsive catchments in which the situation can change very rapidly.”
The monthly summary is a look back at hydrological events occurring in July 2014. 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 published on, or before, the tenth working day, of the following month. A Hydrological Outlook for the UK is also available.
Read the full July 2014 Hydrological Summary for the UK [PDF, 1.99MB]
Details of the National Hydrological Monitoring Programme
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.
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Key for river flows graphic: