Did you know… since 1998 we have seen some of the wettest years on record?
In 2022 we saw some of the highest ever temperatures recorded in the UK and the Met Office confirmed that in England we had our joint hottest summer on record. A few months ago here in Surrey we were struggling with drought and wildfires at the height of the summer. It may be surprising to learn that since 1998 we have seen six of the ten wettest years on record and this year for the first time ever we saw three named storms in one week.
“Climate change is happening now. We’re seeing more extreme weather – in this year alone with three named storms in a week, record-breaking temperatures and drought declared across large parts of the country. That is why it is vital that people take the necessary preparations as early as possible to prepare for the worst.” ~ Caroline Douglass, Executive Director of Flooding at the Environment Agency.
As we look ahead to the winter months, the chance of wet and windy weather increases as we go through the season and unexpected flooding can occur at any time. Communities across the UK are being urged to prepare for flooding and not be complacent following the summer’s dry weather. The risk of unsettled weather increases as we head into 2023 with wet, windy, and mild spells a real possibility.
According to the Met Office at least one in six people in England are at risk from flooding from rivers and the sea, with many more at risk from surface water flooding. However nearly two in three households at risk of flooding don’t believe it will happen to them, according to analysis produced by the Environment Agency earlier this year.
The Environment Agency’s awareness campaign – Flood Action Week – took place from 7th to 13th November with the aim of encouraging those who live in areas at risk of flooding to act now to protect homes, possessions and family. If you haven’t checked your local area it’s very simple and could help you if the worst happens.
What can I do?
There are three simple steps the Environment Agency is asking you to do ahead of the wetter months of the year knowing the devastation that flooding can cause:
It’s not just about ensuring you have essential medicines and belongings if you have to leave your home. You have to consider how to care for family and pets and switch off services such as gas and electricity if you need to. If the flood warnings are not where you live but where you travel, you also need to ensure you are safe when out and about. Just 30cm of flowing water can float a car!
Flooding is just one part of the climate emergency
As COP27 came to a close earlier this month it was clear that one of the key messages is that we must plan and prepare for increasingly extreme events. The global effects of climate change are becoming ever clearer. The wildfires we saw here in our county in the summer were evidence of that as they were seen across many areas of Europe too. Other countries suffered heatwaves including China who saw the highest temperatures for decades. Flooding has affected many countries across the globe such as in Pakistan where devastating flooding is said to have killed more than 1500 people and displaced millions.
Whilst these events may feel miles away and distant from our daily lives, they act as a reminder that climate change is real and one of the biggest threats to Surrey’s countryside.
Wildlife habitats are at risk, and many of our native species face extinction. The climate emergency is degrading the natural environment, resulting in the loss of soil fertility and biodiversity. At CPRE we’re concerned about the fragility of our vital eco-systems and believe that protection of Surrey’s countryside requires a firm commitment to tackling climate change.
We work collaboratively with our partners through the Surrey Climate Commission and the South East Climate Alliance to address the impact of the climate and ecological emergency on our local countryside, and showing how our local countryside and green spaces can play a key role in mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change.
If you are interested in helping us discover how you can get involved here.