While parts of the US and Canada have been sweltering in a heatwave, the United Kingdom has been suffering from more than its fair share of rain, leading to flooding in many parts of the country. According to The Guardian, on Saturday July 7, it was estimated that a month’s worth of rain fell in a day. Unfortunately, after a very dry winter and spring, leading to hosepipe bans in many areas, it seems that the wet British summer is going to continue for some time yet.
After floods in Devon over the weekend, for the time being, the risks of serious flooding appear to have abated. The BBC explains that there are currently no weather warnings in place (issued in the expectation of severe weather within the next 24 hours), but there are still a number of flood warnings in place, particularly in the southwest of England and more rain is expected throughout July. However, in recent weeks, transport, power and lifestyles have all been affected by the recent floods.
Flash floods in parts of the country at the end of June led to transport chaos. Rail services in particular have been cancelled or delayed because of the weather. East Coast trains reported cancelling services between Newcastle in the north of England and Edinburgh in Scotland at the end of June and now South-West trains are reporting serious issues in their area. The road system in parts of the country, particularly rural areas, has also been under attack, with flash floods leaving people stranded. Even for those who manage to reach their destination, there was no way of telling if they would be able to stay; Formula One fans were warned to stay away from Silverstone during the Grand Prix on July 7 because car parks were so waterlogged that they couldn’t be used.
Power cuts, rarely a serious problem in the United Kingdom, have also hit some parts of the country. Severe rain at the end of June led to power cuts overnight in the Tyneside area, affecting 15,000 people. Homes in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland were also affected. With the possibility of more severe weather to come as July progresses, there are still risks of long-term power cuts to come.
Flooding in low-lying areas regularly affects homes in the UK and in some areas, it is common to see sand bags by the doors of houses and businesses, even during the hot weather. However, this year, the floods have been so substantial that sand bags have minimal effect. In Yealhampton, Devon, one of the worst affected places over the weekend, 40 homes were flooded, some with up to 6 feet of water, after a nearby river burst its banks. A number of homes in a village in Leicestershire had to be evacuated because of floods.
Businesses and events are also being hit hard. The summer is the time for a series of festivals throughout the United Kingdom, but this year, a number of events are being cancelled, or suffering from far fewer participants that usual, because of the weather. For example, the BBC reports that the Taste of Britain Festival in Edinburgh and a number of events in Devon have been cancelled because of the fact that parking and camping sites are submerged.
It doesn’t look like the rain is going to stop any time soon, but already the authorities are worrying about a drought at the end of the year. If that happens, low water levels will return and, hard as it is to imagine right now, a new set of hosepipe bans will be on the cards.