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Record breaking rainfall – sinkholes rapidly appearing across Britain

record-breaking-rainfall-sinkholes-rapidly-appearing-across-britain

Extraordinary amounts of rainfall and severe storms that have been battering England and Wales for last two months caused devastating floods and a sharp increase in sinkhole openings. Geologists warn the country should brace for more openings even after the rains stop.

"According to Dr Tony Cooper, of the British Geological Survey, the number of sinkholes being reported has increased by almost five fold, from just a few a year since the storms began in December 2013.

Sinkholes are closely associated with heavy rainfall, but Dr Cooper warns once the deluge stops and groundwater levels start to recede there is a risk of even more, as rocks lose support from the water they hold and heavier surfaces collapse into them." (Telegraph)

National Climate Information Centre (UK Met Office) has looked at statistics for this winter so far (from 1 December 2013 to 13 February 2014) and concluded they show a picture of continuing exceptional rainfall across many areas:

"Looking at regions around the UK, these provisional figures show the region of central southern and southeast England has already exceeded its record winter rainfall in the series back to 1910. Rainfall here currently at 459.3mm*, 22mm above the previous record of 437.1mm set in 1915 with two weeks still to go to the end of the season. This winter also currently ranks as the 4th wettest winter (if there is no further rain) for southwest England and south Wales combined and the 3rd wettest for England South.

Both the UK as a whole and Wales are fairly close to exceeding their respective record wettest winter levels in the national series dating back to 1910 (see table below). Average rainfall for the rest of the month could see those records broken.

All countries across the UK have already exceeded their typical average rainfall for the whole winter (according to the 1981-2010 long-term averages). Normally at this stage of the season, you’d expect to have seen only around 80% of that whole season average.

All areas are also on target for a significantly wetter than average winter, with typically around 130-160% of normal rainfall if we get average rainfall for the rest of February.

All countries and areas are also on target for a warmer than average winter.

Current record wettest winters:

Country Year Rainfall Winter 2014 to date*
UK 1995 485.1mm 452.6mm
ENGLAND 1915 392.7mm 345.6mm
WALES 1995 684.1mm 645.1mm
SCOTLAND 1995 649.5mm 590.4mm
NORTHERN IRELAND 1994 489.7mm 386.2mm

*These are provisional figures from 1 December 2013 to 13 February 2014 and could change after final quality control checks on data." (Met Office News Blog)

Related:

Sinkhole reports:

Featured image: YouTube video screenshot [BBC]

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