Met Office advances will ‘help predict floods’

It is an announcement that those caught out by last summer's devastating floods will be pleased to hear - scientific advances will now make it easier to predict where and when extreme rainfall will occur in the UK.

Severe rainfall forecasts will now be available a day earlier and the location of individual storms will be forecast with greater precision, the Met Office said on Saturday as it unveiled details of its latest technological developments.

A team of specialist forecasters will use the technology to provide early warning and risk assessment to those involved in flood forecasting, the emergency services and operators of essential infrastructure, such as power stations.

Homes, businesses and infrastructure in areas such as Hull, Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire were deluged by floodwaters last June and July, largely as a result of intense rainfall on already saturated ground.

Paul Davies, the Met Office’s extreme rainfall service manager said: “The weather forecasts and alerts to emergency responders issued last summer were both accurate and timely.

“But the intensity and impact of the rain that fell – including extensive surface water flooding in cities like Sheffield – was wholly unprecedented.

“The events of last summer have focused the attention of all agencies involved in severe weather and flood forecasting and the Met Office has accelerated the delivery of its science and technology capabilities in order to meet the challenges ahead.”

Pamela Taylor, chief executive of Water UK, welcomed the announcement in predicting floods.

“Such events can have a significant impact on the water industry and its customers through the overwhelming of drains and sewers and loss of essential services,” she said.

“The industry has close links with the Met Office through its on-going review of the lessons learned last summer and will be working to ensure that a partnership approach delivers the most effective use of information and data.”

The technological developments include a computer model that will allow more precise forecasting of rainfall intensity and location and a prediction system that creates multiple forecasts up to two days in advance.

Kate Martin

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