A fashion designer who made dresses for Princess Diana was just one of the many people affected by flash flooding in London. More than an inch of rain fell in just one hour in some parts of the city. To put that in context, the average rainfall in London for October is 69 millimeters.
The flash flooding destroyed people’s homes and businesses and led to motorway and public transport closures. After the floods, London mayor Sadiq Khan said, “We’re seeing the impact of the climate emergency on our doorstep.”
Flash Flooding Becomes More Common
Back in July, hospitals were forced to ask patients to stay away from their emergency departments after being affected by flash floods. One London resident said that it had been the worst flooding he’d ever seen in the city.
The UK isn’t the only place that has been hit hard by flash floods. Italy set a new national record for rainfall in just six hours. The country also set a new European record for the most rainfall in 12 hours. And who can forget the devastating floods in Germany and other parts of Europe in the summer that led to 242 deaths?
What’s Causing the Floods?
Meteorologists in the UK have warned that extended periods of extreme winter rainfall are seven times more likely, and “London’s flooding is sure to worsen.”
Flash floods are also more common in cities and towns, as it’s harder for rainfall to drain from hard surfaces such as concrete. If a municipality has inadequate infrastructure (such as old sewage systems in the UK) or a lack of natural drainage systems, this makes the effects of heavy rainfall much worse.
Experts also say that climate change will continue to make the problem worse. Higher temperatures can also be behind flooding as this causes more evaporation, leading to the formation of more clouds and more moisture in the air. This often means more, longer, and heavier rainfall.
Prof Hayley Fowler of the UK Climate Resilience Programme said that warming caused by climate change means “these heavy short-duration bursts from thunderstorms which cause flash flooding are becoming more common.”
It’s more challenging to prepare for flash flooding, but that doesn’t mean that we’re helpless in the face of severe weather. Better weather forecasting –– knowing that heavy rain is on its way and predicting heavy flooding –– as well as better advice on what to do to prepare, protect our home, and stay safe can help mitigate some of the effects of flash flooding.