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In an atmosphere with higher temperatures, more moisture can gather than in colder periods. This means that in summer, where temperatures are higher, storms and rainfall events have the potential to deposit huge amounts of water on areas very quickly causing flash flooding. Due to the high pressures seen in summer months, thunderstorms can form quickly and without warning, dropping huge amounts of water in a small timeframe.


The most apparent example of this is the 2007 summer floods, which devastated large areas across England. It was the wettest summer on record, where 414mm of rain fell across England and Wales between May and July, the highest amount recorded since records began in 1766. In total, surface water and fluvial flooding affected upwards of 55,000 homes and businesses across the country. Some 17,000 people were forced to leave their homes, a further 7000 required rescuing by the emergency services, and 13 people lost their lives.


The cause of the 2007 summer floods was the extremely high and intense rainfall patterns that affected the country. However, the root of these floods is the cause of the rainfall, which is the jet stream – a band of fast moving air in the upper atmosphere – the position of which, affects the summer weather seen in the UK. In the case of 2007, the jet stream had been pushed far further south then normal, pushing away the drier conditions we associate with the summer months.


The position of the jet stream is why this year, we have been enjoying one of the hottest summers on record. The jet stream has been further north than usual, allowing high pressure to develop without being swept away as it often is. You may think flooding would be the last of our worries in a period of drought like we have experienced so far this summer. However, long periods without rain and sweltering temperatures leave the ground baked rock hard and impenetrable,


meaning there is a serious risk of flash flooding in the face of heavy rain.


The Environment Agency has said in the past that this factor affected some areas of the country in the summer 2007 floods. The ground, which had slowly dried up through a relatively dry winter and spring, couldn’t hold the amount of water it should have been able to once the rains finally came.


Development


Excessive urbanisation, often to meet housing targets, increases the extent of impermeable surfaces in the UK. This is a major factor that exacerbates flooding issues both in winter and summer, as impermeable surfaces accelerate surface run off, the ever-increasing cause of many of the UK’s floods. This, coupled with either saturated ground or dry baked ground, will cause many of the flash floods that are so hard for meteorologists to predict.


Flood risk


The reality is that flooding can occur at any time, whilst the time of year may influence how and why the flood occurred, it will not prevent or cause it. What’s more, the effects of flooding are always going to be devastating, no matter what the time of year it is. By understanding the flood risk in your area and applying it to the time of year, you can be better prepared. With flood events on the rise in the country, organisations and businesses are now offering apps, programs and reports that assess, and monitor, your flood risk. The Environment Agency produce a free flood alert service that is specific to the area of your choice. There is also ‘Know Your Flood Risk’, a free app that monitors flood risk in your area with real time alerts and advice. To be able to protect your home, business and community you should have mitigation methods


at your disposal. Traditionally, sandbags have been used and stockpiled in some areas, for use in times of flood risk. However, they are outdated and ineffective compared with contemporary techniques.


Temporary barriers are great tools to fight floodwaters as they can be rolled up and stored away in your own home, ready for rapid (typically in under two minutes) deployment. Used in conjunction with a water pump, floodwaters can be prevented from entering properties. Using a pump behind a temporary barrier will help prevent any seepage from pooling, providing full circle protection. By understanding your catchment and having these tools at your disposal, you will be in a better position to defend your area from flooding at any time of the year. Moreover, community flood kits can provide protection for whole areas and not just individual properties.


www.floodprotectionsolutions.co.uk


uThe Army and Mountain Rescue aiding stranded people in York aer heavy rain on 27th December 2015.


FLOOD PROTECTION BSEE


VISIT OUR WEBSITE: www.bsee.co.uk


BUILDING SERVICES & ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEER SEPTEMBER 2018 29


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