Back-to-back storms produce severe flooding, evacuations in UK

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Adam Douty
·4 min read
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A turbulent week in weather resulted in serious flooding across much of the United Kingdom, with the flooding so extensive in parts that it prompted a damage survey from the country's prime minister Boris Johnson.

In the wake of Storm Christoph and Storm Gaetan, flood warnings were issued across the British Isles on Thursday after rounds of heavy rainfall triggered flash flooding and rising rivers.

The two potent storms worked together to create dangerous flash flooding across parts of the U.K. this week, while a third storm system farther south will continue to spread unsettled weather across a large portion of Europe.

Several severe flood warnings are in place near the border of northern Wales and England where the River Dee and River Bollin have spilled over their banks in several locations.

A house is surrounded by flood waters at Bangor-on-Dee, Wales, after large parts of central and northern England and Wales were caught in the path of Storm Christoph, Thursday Jan. 21, 2021. ( AP Photo Jon Super)

Thousands were evacuated across the isles as floodwaters poured into homes Wednesday night into Thursday, according to the BBC, which reported that "people have been told Covid rules let them leave their homes in an emergency."

Residents at Abbey Hey in Gorton, located in northwestern England, were evacuated on Thursday after a sinkhole opened up and pulled off the front of two terraced houses, stated a local report.

As rivers spilled into streets this week, drivers were also caught off guard. One delivery driver had to be rescued by firefighters after his truck was flipped by the raging water in Westgate, England, on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Didsbury, a suburb of Manchester, on Thursday morning, local time, as the evacuation was lifted and residents began returning to their homes.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson talks with local residents who were evacuated from their properties overnight during his visit to Withington, Manchester, north west England, Thursday Jan. 21, 2021, as he views flood defences put in place near to the River Mersey for Storm Cristoph which has caused widespread flooding across the UK. (Paul Ellis/Pool via AP)

He said flooding had a "huge psychological, emotional and financial cost" for people and said the government was investing $7.3 billion (5.2 billion pounds) in flood defenses over six years, the BBC reported.

The UK Meteorological Office posted that some of the highest rainfall totals so far this week included 164 mm (6.46 inches) at Crai Reservoir and 151 mm (5.94 inches) at Capel Curig, both located in Wales.


While most of the precipitation from Storm Gaetan has moved out of the British Isles, this storm isn't done impacting Europe as it spins over the North Sea into Friday.

Areas of snow and strong winds can reduce visibility across parts of the Scottish Highlands into Friday morning.

Meanwhile, heavy snow will fall across much of southern and central Norway into central Sweden. The most significant accumulation will be just inland across southern Norway, where 30-60 cm (12-24 inches) can accumulate through the course of the week.

"A third and final storm will move out of the Atlantic Ocean eastward through the Bay of Biscay into western France by Thursday night," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Tyler Roys said. This will bring heavy rain to the northwestern Iberian Peninsula and western and central France, along with damaging winds to western France, he added.

This third storm was given the name Hector by the Spanish Meteorological Agency late in the week.

This fast-moving storm is expected to mostly be a wind producer with gusts reaching upwards of 100 km/h (about 60 mph) in northwestern Spain as well as western and northern France. An AccuWeather Local StormMax™ wind gust of 120 km/h (75 mph) is expected and most likely in western France.

These winds can be strong enough to knock out power to some areas and down some tree branches.

This storm is forecast to continue tracking east into the Mediterranean Sea through the end of the week where it pull in more moisture. This will result in heavy rainfall in northern and central Italy, southern Austria and Slovenia into Saturday.

Rainfall totals of up to 50-100 mm (2-4 inches) can lead to flash flooding, especially in low-lying and poor drainage areas, through the end of the week.

Enough cold air will be in place over the Alps for precipitation to fall as snow into the beginning of the weekend. Snow-covered roads can create difficult driving conditions while milder air can increase the risk for avalanches.

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