Wet summer increases winter flood risk in Bristol
BRISTOL could be more prone to flooding this autumn and winter as a result of the wet summer, the Environment Agency and Met Office have warned.
The wettest April to June on record, and further wet weather in July, September and October, has left river levels full, the ground saturated and groundwaters in some areas exceptionally high.
Emergency responders as well as householders are being advised to be prepared for flooding, which, due to the saturated conditions, could occur with relatively small amounts of rain.
The Environment Agency and Met Office have warned that the South West is of particular risk of flooding from rivers in November and December.
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Areas in the Bristol area which are historically more prone to flooding include Congresbury, Wrington and the Somerset Levels.
Paul Gainey, spokesman for the Environment Agency, said flood alleviation schemes were in place in Bristol and surrounding towns and villages.
He said: "We have schemes in place in Weston-super-Mare, Congresbury, Clevedon and Portishead. We have a network of schemes which should protect people from main river flooding. Places that don't have them will have community flood plans.
"Places which are more vulnerable are those which have smaller water courses where we don't have the power to warn people of flooding. Places like Wrington and Bruton are probably more problematic because we don't have the warning systems.
"The River Avon has a good flood plain capacity but it is possible it could cause flooding in Bristol."
Paul Mustow, head of flood incident management at the Environment Agency, said: "This year our flood defences have protected over 119,000 properties, but we cannot prevent flooding entirely.
"With one in six homes at risk of flooding, the most important step people can take in protecting themselves from the worst impacts is to find out if they are at risk, and sign up to the Environment Agency's free flood warnings service.
"As winter approaches we'd encourage everyone to take this one step to help protect themselves from what is recognised as the country's number one natural hazard."
The Environment Agency and Met Office have warned that the risk of coastal flooding also increases at this time of year, especially during periods of high spring tides from November 12 and 18 and December 12 and 18.
Sarah Jackson, the Met Office's chief adviser to the Government, said: "We are heading into the winter period which is traditionally the wetter period of the year in the UK.
"Because the ground is so wet, if we do have any prolonged heavy rainfall in any part of the country, there is going to be heightened risk of flooding.
"We recommend that everyone keeps up-to-date with the latest forecasts and warnings in periods of wet weather to be prepared."
More than 1.1 million people are signed up to receive Environment Agency flood warnings – which can be sent by email, text, or a message to a landline or mobile phone.
This summer, 100,000 households were warned of potential flooding, giving people essential time to protect their homes and possessions.
Households and businesses can check their flood risk and sign up to receive free flood warnings at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/flood.