Cumbria deluge described as ‘historical event’

Author: Press Association

The Environment Secretary Hilary Benn, who was in Cumbria to assess the
situation, said it may have “the wettest day ever recorded” in the
county.

He said that even defences built after the floods of 2005 to withstand a “one-in-100-years
flood” could not cope with the volume of water.

“What we dealt with last night was probably more like one-in-a-1,000, so
even the very best defences, if you have such quantities of rain in such a
short space of time, can be over-topped,” he said on BBC Radio 4’s
Today programme.

Severe flooding in the county was driven by a combination of heavy rainfall,
saturated ground and swollen rivers.

Julian Mayes, a forecaster with MeteoGroup UK, the weather division of the
Press Association, said in excess of 250mm (9.8 inches) of rain fell in some
parts of the sodden county.

“It looks like a very historical event,” he said. “It may well
have broken the record for rainfall in the area in November.”

Mr Mayes said the levels of rain in Cumbria were equivalent to five or six
months of rainfall typically experienced over London and the south east of
England.

“The fact that there’s eight feet of water in some places is not that
surprising,” he said.

“Primarily, it’s the sheer quantity in the last 36 hours that has caused
the flooding.

“But in November the ground is saturated. The rain can’t get into the
soil, it just runs off.

“That means rivers rise very quickly and suddenly.”

Mr Mayes said the river levels across Cumbria should stabilise throughout the
day.

He said: “The good thing is river levels fall quickly. Rivers will be
stabilising.

“The rest of the day shouldn’t pose any problems. The system causing this
weather has cleared away.”

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