Major Hydrological Events

The National Hydrological Monitoring Programme (NHMP) produces reports, or webpages, on recent hydrological events of major significance. Some aim to comprehensively summarise the event and provide a historical record, whilst others are contemporary and often preliminary assessments of an unfolding episode, and their contents should be understood in this context. Contact the NRFA for printed reports. For details of other National River Flow Archive publications please visit the NRFA publication page. Press and Media enquiries should be directed to the UKCEH Press Office

The 2019-20 flooding 

Between June 2019 and February 2020 there was a succession of severe flood events across the UK. In northern England, the Midlands and on both sides of the English/Welsh border many river flows exceeded their highest on record, and some defences were overwhelmed. The events during this period were especially notable for their widespread, prolonged and in places, repeated nature.

The 2018-19 drought

Between 2016 and 2019, the UK was in a period of prolonged dry conditions with varying spatial and temporal foci. The hot summer of 2018 may be memorable for many however the period shows perhaps less widespread recognition of a longer period of dry conditions leading up to this heatwave, and a similarly protracted dry spell extending into late 2019 in some parts of the United Kingdom.

The 2015-16 winter flooding 

A remarkably persistent and exceptionally mild cyclonic episode began in early-November 2015 and lasted ~14 weeks. It brought brought severe, extensive and protracted flooding which impacted most damagingly on northern Britain, Northern Ireland and parts of Wales.  Many existing rainfall and seasonal temperature records were eclipsed during this period and, most notably, maximum recorded river flows were exceeded over a substantial proportion of the country.  

The 2013-14 winter flooding

Throughout the winter of 2013/2014, a succession of vigorous low pressure systems crossed the UK. This resulted in the wettest winter on record for the UK (since records began in 1910), by a considerable margin, and the stormiest for the UK and Ireland (Matthews et al., 2014). The persistent heavy rainfall, combined with strong winds, high tides and storm surge conditions, severely impacted many parts of the country. From late December until late February, flooding was at the forefront of the media spotlight and received a high level of public and political attention.

The 2010-12 drought and subsequent extensive flooding

Drought conditions developed through 2010, intensified during 2011 and were severe across much of England & Wales by the early spring of 2012. Record late spring and summer rainfall then triggered a hydrological transformation that has no close modern parallel. 

This report provides comprehensive documentation and hydrometeorological appraisals of a three-year period which incorporated a number of important regional drought episodes as well as the outstanding runoff and recharge patterns which characterised most of 2012. An examination of the wide range of impacts of the drought and flood episodes is included and the extreme hydrometeorological conditions are examined within an extended historical context. Finally, the recent exceptional conditions are reviewed in the light of observational evidence for trends in temperature, rainfall, river flow and aquifer recharge patterns. 

The November 2009 Floods

This short briefing note summarises some of the key findings in relation to the rarity of the November 2009 floods in Cumbria.

The Summer 2007 Floods in England and Wales

This provides a hydrological appraisal of the 2007 floods, places them in a historical context and considers the evidence for any long term increase in the magnitude of major fluvial floods.

The 2004-06 Drought 

This report documents the 2004-06 drought in a hydrological framework with particular reference to its impact on water resources and the aquatic environment. This report was originally published as a set of webpages, with a second edition PDF version published in 2014.

The 2003 Drought

This report provides an overview of the development and impacts of nationwide drought conditions in 2003 (note: this overview is an extended version of a paper published in 'Weather' (August, 2004, Vol. 59, No. 8). This report was originally published as a set of webpages, with a second edition PDF version published in 2014.

The 2000-2001 Floods 

This report provide a hydrological appraisal of what was the most severe flood episode, on a nationwide scale, since 1947. This report was originally published as a set of webpages, with a second edition PDF version published in 2014.

The 1988-92 Drought

This report provides comprehensive documentation of the 1988-92 drought within a hydrological framework and establishes a benchmark against which future periods of severe rainfall deficiency may be compared. The spatial and temporal variations in the drought's intensity are examined and its severity assessed within the perspective provided by long-term rainfall and hydrometric records. 

The 1984 Drought

The first occasional report in the Hydrological data UK series concerns the 1984 drought. The structure of the report follows the hydrological cycle with chapters devoted to rainfall, evaporation, runoff and water storage in surface reservoirs and aquifers. The report documents the drought in a water resources framework and its development, duration and severity are examined with particular reference to regional variations in intensity.

The 1975-76 Drought - a contemporary and retrospective review 

The 1975/76 drought was at the time considered the most severe experienced across much of the UK.  Given its extreme intensity and broad spatial extent, the documentation of the drought remains relatively limited; this is particularly true in relation to material reviewing the wide range of its impacts. To redress the balance, Part I of this publication comprises a report on the drought completed in 1977, but previously unpublished, by John Rodda (CEH Fellow and formerly Deputy Director of the Water Data Unit). 

The 35-year period since the 1975/76 drought has been one of considerable hydrological volatility with notable drought episodes in 1984, 1989/90, 1991/92, 1995-97, 2003 and 2004-06.  The cluster of recent droughts, together with a continuing increase in temperatures has focussed concern on the degree to which climate change may be increasing the vulnerability of the UK to periods of sustained rainfall deficiency.  Correspondingly, Part II of this report capitalises on hydrometeorological data collected over the last 35 years to provide a retrospective review of the drought with a particular focus on whether the singular severity ascribed to the 1975/76 requires revision.  

Report: The 1975-76 Drought: a contemporary and retrospective review 


Other Reports

Reports on certain hydrological events between 1983 and 1995 were included as feature articles within the Hydrological Yearbooks of that time. See here for further information.