UK Winter Storms December 2013 - January 2014 (17.01.14)

UK winter storms have produced the stormiest December since 1969, the wettest December in Scotland since 1910 and the highest storm surge since 1953. What has been causing this series of exceptional events and how heavy might the losses associated with it be?

Following Storm Xaver earlier in December, the UK has continued to experience prolonged periods of stormy and unsettled weather. This repeated cycle of fast moving, clustered storms has brought a constant stream of low pressure systems and heavy rainfall onto already saturated ground and swollen rivers.

Seven deaths in England between 23 December and 5 January have been associated with the severe weather, with more than 300 properties flooded and 750,000 households left with no electricity supply.

A combination of low pressure, strong winds and spring high tides has resulted in wave overtopping and repeated flooding in many coastal areas, particularly in the South West of England and mid-Wales.

With many river catchments and drainage systems already at capacity from previous weather systems, additional rainfall overwhelmed many areas bringing localised river and surface water flooding to many areas across the south of England, particularly Kent, Surrey and Sussex, and along the River Severn in Gloucestershire.

During Christmas Eve, high winds, with gusts in excess of 90 mph, brought falling trees down onto power lines, resulting in a peak power outage for 150,000 people in the South East of England. 

In Scotland and South East England it was also very wet, where rainfall was over twice the monthly average. This was not the case across all areas though, with some easterly areasexperiencing less than half the December average.

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JBA Risk Management

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