Water scene February 2013 – National update

Just a brief update on the national watery picture.

As in the Midlands, February was a pretty average month in terms of rainfall nationally. As you can see from the maps below this made a refreshing change for the areas that were deluged (blues) from April to December last year.

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With a fairly average January too overall rainfall amounts in the last three months are returning to levels we’d expect. However, if you look at the cumulative amounts for the last six months to a year they are still way more than normal.

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Even though we’ve not had that much rain, the soil remains saturated. This is because temperatures are low so there isn’t much evaporation and there are fewer growing plants to suck water up. As a result when we do get rain it runs off very quickly, causing surface water flooding problems.

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River flows during February were very similar to January with many being average for the time of year. Some of the larger lowland rivers, such as the Trent, Thames and Avon, however, continued to see above average flows.

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Groundwater levels continue to show rapid rises in response to last years heavy rain as the water continues to percolate slowly down. Some sites, such as Skirwith (below) on the Eden Valley sandstone aquifer in Cumbria, are now recording record high levels for the end of February (solid black line).

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You can read our full national water report for February here: http://bit.ly/XoBB9x

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The Midlands water scene – February 2013

After the extremes of 2012, February has been a pretty average month.

Rainfall in most parts of the Midlands was a little below normal, only the lowland parts of Shropshire recording significantly more than average. Indeed the far east and west of the area only received three quarters of February’s normal rain.

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This means that for two months running total rainfall in the Midlands has been less than the long term average. Is it the start of another trend?

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Despite the smaller amount of rain, river flows were generally above average for the month. This is partly because they were still recovering from flood levels at the end of January and due to continued run-off from saturated soils.

We’ve added a new monitoring site to our monthly water reports on the River Lugg at Butts Bridge in Herefordshire.

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Groundwater continues to respond to the heavy rain of the last year in most places. It can take many months for rainwater to find its way through the soil and into the deeper aquifers (water-storing rock).

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The delayed response can be clearly seen in the sandstone aquifers in Shropshire (below). They are, however, responding dramatically now!

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In contrast, the Nottinghamshire sandstone aquifers (below) are proving more stubborn and levels remain low despite all the rain.

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The first week of March has continued the drier trend and the immediate outlook is for much colder (but still fairly dry) conditions. We’ll see how it all pans out, but with recent experience I wouldn’t bet on anything!

You can read our full Midlands water report here http://bit.ly/Y0zfKk