2013–2014 United Kingdom winter floods

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2013–2014 United Kingdom winter floods
Llanaber rail storm damage 2014.jpg
Wave damage caused 3 January at Llanaber railway station
Date 4 December 2013 – 25 February 2014 (Including St Jude Storm on 28 October 2013)
Location United Kingdom and Ireland
Deaths at least 17 dead

The 2013–2014 United Kingdom winter floods saw areas of the United Kingdom inundated following severe storms. The south of England saw heavy rainfalls associated with these storms which caused widespread flooding, power cuts and major disruptions to transport. Economically the worst affected areas were Somerset, Devon, Dorset and Cornwall in the south west and the Thames Valley in the south east. The Met Office reported the storms were responsible for the wettest December to January period since 1876.[1] The flood phenomena ranged from coastal flooding, pluvial flooding, fluvial flooding to groundwater flooding. The flooding resulted in the inundation of the majority of the Somerset Levels and saw the main railway line to Cornwall and West Devon until a few weeks' thereafter severed by the sea at Dawlish.

Meteorological analysis[edit]

A series of low pressure areas developed or formed over North America explosively deepening over the Atlantic/gulf stream before reaching the European coast. An Omega Block developed over northern Norway/Scandinavia which prevented the lows moving east over Europe, with a series of lows "dying" to the northwest of Britain and Ireland. The blocking pattern over northern Norway led to a severe drought and forest fires there in early 2014.[2]

Time line[edit]

  • 22 December 2013 Cyclone Dirk hit the UK.
    • Network Rail imposed speed restrictions from 16:00 23 December. Network Rail described the damage to rail infrastructure in southern England as worse than that seen during the St. Jude storm in October.[3]
    • Saturated ground led to localised flooding in southern England, as the storm brought up to 60mm of rain to the UK. A major incident was declared in the region of Leatherhead and Dorking with Fire Brigade unions calling off a planned strike in Surrey and Kent. An Environment Agency spokesman said flooding in Kent and Sussex were the worst to hit the area since Autumn 2000.
    • 100,000 homes reported without power across Southern England.
  • 3 January – Strong winds and high tides bring flooding to large parts of Western England, Wales and Scotland.[4]
  • 24 January – Sedgemoor District Council in Somerset declares a "major incident" in flooded areas as forecasters warn of more rain.[5]
  • 25 January – Trees are uprooted and structural damaged caused to buildings by lightning as a heavy rainstorm hits the Midlands region.[6]
  • 30 January – Figures released by the Met Office indicate Southern England and parts of the Midlands have experienced their highest January rainfall since records began in 1910. The announcement comes as military personnel prepare to help residents in flooded areas of Somerset.[7]
  • 5 February – Part of the South Devon Railway sea wall carrying the railway line linking London with the west of England is washed away by a powerful storm that has hit the UK overnight. Thousands of homes are also left without electricity.[8] Prime Minister David Cameron announces that an extra £100 million will be spent on dealing with the aftermath of the floods that have hit the UK.[9]
  • 6 February – The Ministry of Defence sends around 40 Royal Marines to the Somerset Levels to help with flood protection as more storms are expected. The Government also provides an extra £30 million for repairs.[10]
  • 8 February –


Coastal flooding[edit]

Breached seawall and railway at Dawlish, Devon

Coastal flooding particularly affected the south and west of the UK, with severe damage reported Wales, Cornwall, Devon and Dorset. A particularly notable event occurred on 5 February when the seawall and railway line were breached at Dawlish.

The Riviera Line and transport disruption[edit]

A 50 m (165 ft) section of the Riviera Line track at Dawlish cutting the Exeter and Newton Abbot on the main railway line through the county on 3 February.[13] Network Rail said it had pulled all repair staff away from working on washed away track on the 4th.[14]

A section of the town's sea wall was later reported to have washed away among with the track. Network spokesman, Julian Burnell, estimated "hundreds of tonnes" of ballast had been dislodged from under tracks after they had "taken a real pounding from the sea".[14]

The damage to sea defenses were not the only problem as has also forced the closure of the main Exeter-to-Newton Abbot railway line in Devon elsewhere. On the 4th[15] In a press release First Great Western had initially said the Exeter-Newton Abbot line would only be closed until Wednesday as a result of the "poor weather conditions", but this was extended the until Friday on the 4th.[15]

Repairs on a had been halted because of safety concerns on the 4th.[14]

This was not unique since high tides also lashed Plymouth's Hoe seafront and the nearby Barbican on,[14] Near the city of Exeter, firefighters rescued a man from a vehicle stuck in floodwater.[15] Sea defences, walls and footpaths have been damaged, including at Newlyn Green 4 February 2014.[15] The Tamar Bridge between Plymouth in Devon and Saltash in Cornwall was closed to all traffic for a period after wind speeds surpassed 70 mph, and high sided lorrys for the next day as well, police said on the 4th.[15]

It was reckoned that storms had caused more than £4m worth of damage across Cornwall in a month, the local authority has estimated on 4 February 2014.[15]

David Cameron chaired his first Cobra meeting this year and announced an extra £100m for flood works on 5 February [16]

A Department for Transport source said the "most pressing issue" was to get the line up and running as soon as possible, "but equally it is clear it is important we look at the long term as well." on 6 February 2014.[13]

Meanwhile, powerful waves continued to thrash the exposed coastline rail track at Dawlish which carries the main line between Penzance and Exeter and slightly damaged Dawlish station it’s self on 6 February 2014[13]

As all this was going on, a wave measuring more than 70 feet was recorded off the coast of Penzance yesterday. A flood buoy set close to Penzance triggered a reading of 74.8 feet at 3 am, according to Cornish website surfhog.com.[13]

Lib Dem MP for Torbay Adrian Sanders said the loss of the main line was "a disaster" and called on the Transport Secretary to intervene. 6 February 2014[13]

A landslip on the West of England Main Line at Crewkerne, Somerset cut off the final link to Exeter on 8 February,[17] expected to take a week to repair, though reports that the track was safe for slow moving trains, however signal problems led to line closure again on 9 February, but was re-opened again that afternoon. The alternative route along the Bristol to Exeter Line was under water on the Somerset Levels,with trains unable to Taunton and Bridgewater.[18] Line at Dawlish out of action, likely to be out of action for sometime and protected by shipping containers.[19]

Inland flooding[edit]

Complex flooding resulting from the storms, flash flooding, river flooding, groundwater flooding, coastal flooding. total of homes flooded less than 2007 United Kingdom floods, though conditions more similar to Autumn 2000 western Europe floods

Surrey and Kent[edit]

Flooding on the River Darent Eynsford, Kent 26 December 2013

After Cyclone Dirk saturated ground led to localised flooding in southern England, as the storm brought up to 60mm of rain to the UK. A major incident was declared in the region of Leatherhead and Dorking with Fire Brigade unions calling off a planned strike in Surrey and Kent. An Environment Agency spokesman said flooding in Kent and Sussex were the worst to hit the area since Autumn 2000. Flooding was also reported at Yalding and Gatwick Airport.

Thames Valley[edit]

Flooded gardens Chertsey January 2014

There was some criticism of the Jubilee River designed to protect Maidenhead, by residents in Wraysbury who blamed the scheme for increasing flooding downstream.[20] In February 2014, the River Ash caused flooding in homes in Staines-upon-Thames. This flooding was exacerbated by a two-day delay by Surrey County Council's 'Gold Control' flood control group in ordering Thames Water to close a sluice gate on a Thames Water aqueduct. Thames Water considered it had been following an existing protocol agreed with Surrey County Council and the Environment Agency.[21]

Severn catchment[edit]

Somerset Levels[edit]

Emergency pumps on the river Parrett in Somerset

2012 Great Britain and Ireland floods which brought severe flooding to the Somerset Levels claims Environment Agency river dredging.

claims that the government had not been quick enough to react and provide assistance to flooded

Official updates on the situation[edit]

  1. [22]
  2. [23]
  3. [24]


  1. ^ "2014 UK floods (KS3-5)". Geographical Association. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  2. ^ Rommetveit, Astrid (4 February 2014). "Britene har "kapret" regnet vårt". yr.no (in Norwegian). Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  3. ^ Carter, Claire (24 December 2013). "Fifth person dies in storms sweeping UK and causing travel chaos". The Telegraph. Retrieved 24 December 2013. 
  4. ^ "Flooding continues to threaten UK". BBC News (BBC). 3 January 2014. Retrieved 4 January 2014. 
  5. ^ "Somerset floods: 'Major incident' declared". BBC News (BBC). 24 January 2014. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  6. ^ "West Bromwich church and houses hit by lightning in storm". BBC News (BBC). 25 January 2014. Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "UK floods: January rain breaks records in parts of England". BBC News (BBC). 30 January 2014. Retrieved 30 January 2014. 
  8. ^ "UK storms wash away railway line and leave thousands without power". BBC News (BBC). 5 February 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2014. 
  9. ^ "Extra £100m for floods aftermath". Belfast Telegraph (Independent News and Media). 5 February 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2014. 
  10. ^ "Prime minister pledges to get flood-hit UK back on the move". BBC News (BBC). 6 February 2014. Retrieved 6 February 2014. 
  11. ^ http://www.news.com.au/world/breaking-news/storms-to-batter-flood-hit-britain/story-e6frfkui-1226821348287?from=public_rss
  12. ^ "UK storms: Coastal areas in west hit by renewed gales". BBC News (BBC). 8 February 2014. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  13. ^ a b c d e "Dawlish railway line damage may leave Devon and Cornwall rail links out of action for months". Western Morning News. 6 February 2014. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  14. ^ a b c d "Dawlish railway repairs halted over safety fears". BBC News (BBC). 4 February 2014. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f "Storms cause £4 m damage in Cornwall". BBC News (BBC). 4 February 2014. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  16. ^ "UK storms destroy railway line and leave thousands without power". BBC News (BBC). 5 February 2014. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  17. ^ "Landslip causes further rail misery for South West travellers". BBC News. 8 February 2014. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  18. ^ "Taunton to Bridgwater railway line remains under water". BBC News. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  19. ^ "Shipping containers provide flood defence at Dawlish". ITV News. 9 February 2014. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  20. ^ "Wraysbury residents say Jubilee River is a 'disaster'". BBC News. 14 January 2014. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  21. ^ "Staines residents seek flooding compensation". BBC News. 13 November 2014. Retrieved 14 November 2014. 
  22. ^ "Dawlish". First Great Western. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  23. ^ "Dawlish Station - Trains to Dawlish". thetrainline.com. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  24. ^ "Dawlish". Network Rail. 6 February 2014. Retrieved 10 February 2014.