Submitted by Ms. Gayatri Suman on
February was a dry and mild month, with large swathes of England and Wales receiving less than a fifth of the average rainfall, and Scotland and Northern Ireland seeing their second and fourth warmest February, respectively, since records began (in 1884). River flow recessions that were established in mid-January continued throughout February, and below average flows were widespread, with exceptions where flows were sustained in the normal range by rainfall (Scotland and north-west England) or groundwater (southern England). Unseasonal soil moisture deficits developed across England and Wales, and groundwater levels fell in over two-thirds of index wells, with levels at most sites normal or below normal for the time of year. Reservoir stocks fell, and whilst close to average overall in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the English Lowlands, Wales had its lowest February stocks since 1996. Whilst unsettled weather in March has rewetted soils, a return to dry conditions could lead to water resource pressures in the summer. Unseasonably sustained rainfall will be needed during the coming months in those areas where reservoir stocks or groundwater resources are depleted following the dry winter and drought status persists (South West England and East Anglia).