There was a wide range of wintry weather across the UK in January 2015. With the exception of parts of north-eastern and central England, the majority of the UK received above average rainfall. The range of river flows exhibited largely followed the distribution of rainfall, with above normal flows in northern and western areas of the UK, and below normal flows characterising some eastern areas of both England and Scotland. Water levels in the index groundwater boreholes were in the normal range or above for the time of year, and England & Wales reservoir stocks were marginally above average.
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.
The wintry weather was separated into two distinct periods. The month began with intense stormy conditions driven by a vigorous jet stream, which brought strong winds and heavy rainfall particularly to western parts of the UK. These conditions gave way to a much colder second half of January, with most parts of the country affected by combinations of snow, hail, sleet, rain and icy conditions.
The wide range of severe weather caused significant disruption to transport networks, caused school closures and left many homes without power. Conditions were particularly wet in northern and western Scotland which received more than 150% of long‑term average rainfall over wide areas, continuing a pattern of wet weather that has affected the region for much of the winter half‑year (October‑March) thus far.
Summary author, Simon Parry from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology said, “The water resource situation at the national scale remained healthy entering the late winter and early spring.”
The monthly summary is a look back at hydrological events occurring in January 2015. 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).
A PDF of the full 12-page January 2015 summary can be downloaded here.
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 and is updated monthly.
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: