|A van slowly drives through floodwaters near Lacock, Wiltshire [Getty]
It may be the month for showers, but this April has seen so many heavy downpours that across the U.K. it has been confirmed as the wettest on record.
The Met Office confirmed that this April’s rainfall was higher than at any time since 1910, the start of reliable weather records.
The total of 122mm is almost double the April average (70mm) and it beat the previous high of 120mm set back in 2000.
Southern, southwestern and eastern parts of the country seem to have been hardest hit with Liscombe on Exmoor recording 274mm, more than three times the average.
At the other end of the scale, the west of Scotland escaped relatively lightly, with Prestwick in Ayrshire recording just 39mm.
The torrential rain of April contrasts with the exceptionally dry weather of the previous months. March was the 5th driest on record with an average of just 36mm of rainfall across the country.
Along with the rain, many places saw depressed temperatures with April turning out cooler than March. Nowhere in the U.K. reached 20C at any stage, whereas in March this figure was achieved on numerous occasions.
Heavy rain began the day after the declaration of drought across much of England and the imposition of a hosepipe ban. In a remarkable turnaround, the Environment Agency now has 36 flood warnings in force, mainly in southern, central and eastern England and Wales.
The first casualty of the flooding came when a man drowned near Newbury, Berkshire after the car he was driving became stuck whilst fording a stream. Whilst his female passenger managed to escape, the man died after the vehicle was submerged under 1.5 metres of fast-flowing water.
The county of Gloucestershire seems to have been particularly badly affected. The annual Badminton Horse Trials have had to be cancelled – for the first time in more than 30 years.
The town of Tewkewsbury is all but surrounded by water after the nearby River Severn overflowed. For residents, it has brought back memories of the last major flood, that of 1997.
Although the forecast is for drier weather over the next few days, river levels respond more slowly and the situation could get worse before it gets better. Much to the amusement of some sections of the press and groups of M.P.s, there is no prospect of the hosepipe ban being lifted anytime soon.