Storm Jorge: February was wettest on record, says Met Office

Phoebe Southworth
Rescue workers in East Cowick, Yorkshire, brave the floods - Ian Forsyth/Getty Images Europe

The Met Office declared last month the wettest February on record, as Storm Jorge battered Britain in the fourth consecutive weekend of severe weather.

As heavy rain and strong gales hit already sodden communities, forecasters recorded a UK average of 202.1mm, beating the 1990 figure of 193.4mm.

A "Herculean" mission to erect flood defences is underway across the UK to prevent any further damage to areas already deluged by overflowing rivers, which have hit record levels.

Some 1,000 Environment Agency workers have every day been clearing debris, redirecting water using pumps and repairing parts of the 3.7 miles of barriers they have erected.

It warned that the country needs to brace itself for "more frequent periods of extreme weather like this" because of climate change.

England has had more than 200 per cent of its average February rainfall, with some areas getting a month's worth in 24 hours, making it the wettest February since records began.

Towns including Ironbridge and Bewdley along the River Severn in the West Midlands, and West Cowick and Lidgate in East Yorkshire, along the River Aire, are among the worst-hit areas in the country.

Power cuts, transport delays and ferocious waves in coastal communities were recorded this weekend, as emergency services and councils battled to keep residents and their properties safe.

The promenade in Folkestone, Kent, was battered by water from the channel which surged over the railings.

In London, street performers on the South Bank took to sheltering under umbrellas as they entertained passersby.

Cyclists in the capital wore brightly coloured waterproofs as they braved the heavy traffic.

Pets caught up in the flooding chaos included a chinchilla, which was being carried around the Yorkshire village of East Cowick in a cardboard box by its concerned owner.

Dog owners were also pictured being rowed to safety by rescue workers in small boats, while crestfallen residents were seen examining the damage to their homes.

A woman checks on her pet chinchilla in a cardboard box - Ian Forsyth/Getty Images Europe

Some had loaded boxes of their most valuable possessions into inflatable dinghies. Those who had managed to keep the water at bay barricaded their front doors with piles of sandbags.

One devastated resident, dressed in a nightgown, was seen peering apprehensively out of her bedroom window at the floodwater which had engulfed her property in Snaith, Yorkshire.

Meanwhile, gusts of up to 70mph and rising water levels led to police in Wales declaring a temporary "critical incident" on Saturday morning, advising people to stay indoors.

Cardiff Council said emergency teams worked through the night on flood defences, road closures and clearing debris to limit the damage from torrential rain. It said it responded to around 100 incidents on the roads.

More than 600 homes and a similar number of businesses have been hit in Wales, accounting for around a quarter of affected properties in the UK.

Weather forecast | Friday 28 February

A total of 88 flood warnings were in place across England and Wales last night, mostly in the South West and along the English-Welsh border and in Yorkshire. A further 217 "flooding is possible" alerts were also in force.

Six yellow weather warnings for rain, wind and snow were in force across the country on Saturday morning, stretching from Cornwall to the north of Scotland and across to Northern Ireland.

Temperatures will feel close to freezing due to a wind chill, according to the Met Office, with some wind warnings in place until 3pm on Sunday.

Persistent snowfall was forecast over higher parts of Scotland, with up to 30cm predicted in some places, with warnings in place until noon on Monday, the Met Office said.