by Richard Davies, floodlist
Storms Ciara and Dennis brought heavy rainfall to parts of UK and Ireland during February 2020, causing rivers to reach record levels in parts of England. The UK's Met Office said February 2020 was the wettest February on record and the fifth wettest month ever recorded in the UK. Met Éireann said the provisional rainfall totals for the period 01 to 24 February were 225% of Ireland’s average. Floods affected parts of Ireland, particularly in areas of the Shannon basin, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. However, parts of South Wales, and the regions of West Midlands, North West and Yorkshire in England, were particularly badly affected. The Environment Agency in England said 3,431 properties were flooded during February, with over 80,000 others successfully protected by flood defences. The insured property market loss is estimated at around GBP 300 million (EUR 344 million), making the February 2020 floods the costliest flood event in the UK since the winter floods of December 2015, which cost the industry GBP 1.1 billion (EUR1.26 billion) at the time.
Areas of England's Lake District recorded more than 150 mm of rain in a 24-hour period to 09 February following the passage of Storm Ciara (also known as Sabine). Levels of the Calder, Ribble and Irwell rivers jumped to highest or second highest on record. Flooding affected parts of Todmorden and Hebden Bridge in the Calder Valley, West Yorkshire. Flood rescues were carried out in Appleby in Cumbria and in the Ribble Valley and areas around Blackpool, Lancashire. Meanwhile the overflowing River Irwell prompted some evacuations in Greater Manchester. On 09 February, the River Calder at Horbury, Wakefield, reached 4.10 metres and the River Ribble at Low Moor near Clitheroe reached 4.6 metres – both record highs.
With ground still saturated, Storm Dennis hit parts of UK on 15 February. Two people reportedly died as a result of flooding and 2 others in rough seas and high winds. The UK’s Met Office said that Crai Reservoir in Powys, South Wales, recorded 157.6 mm of rain in 48 hours to 16 February. Rivers in Wales and England’s West Midlands broke their banks, prompting evacuations and leaving some communities cut off. The Taff river reached record highs of 5.324 metres at Upper Boat Bridge near Pontypridd, South Wales, on 16 February. A record high number of flood warnings or alerts (594) were issued in England. The River Teme near Tenbury Wells in Worcestershire reached 5.9 metres on 16 February, well above flood stage of 4.55 metres.
Rivers remained high in the West Midlands in England during late February, with further evacuations reported. Flooding was also reported in parts of East Yorkshire, where the River Aire at nearby Chapel Haddlesey reached near record levels of 3.42 metres on 25 February (flood stage is 1.34 metres). Flooding continued in the area into early March.