England needs double normal summer rainfall, say experts

SOUTHERN England needs twice as much rainfall over the summer than normal to get back to expected levels, experts have said.

As water companies prepare to enforce a hosepipe ban across the south of England from Thursday (April 5), researchers at the University of Reading said the affected region needed rainfall equivalent to the amount seen during the 2007 summer floods to get back to normal.

Dr Ben Lloyd-Hughes, from the University’s Walker Institute, said: “Over the last two years we’ve seen 22 months with normal or below normal rainfall, and crucially we’ve seen two dry winters in a row.

“We’ve seen less rainfall over the last year than in the 1976 drought and for the South East we have to go back to 1921 to see such a severe and prolonged lack of rainfall.

“The lack of rainfall over the last year means that we would need over 400mm of rain to get us back to normal levels by August – that’s more than twice what we would normally get over the April to July period.”

He added that Met Office forecasts hinted at the possibility of some relief, with showers predicted over the next few weeks in the south of England, but the Met Office experimental forecasts, which look 2-4 months into the future, suggest normal or even drier than normal conditions are most likely over the next few months.

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