Oxford University’s Radcliffe Meteorological Station has announced that the rainfall in January was highest measured in any winter month since daily recording began in 1767.
The weather station recorded a total of 146.9mm of rainfall in January. This was not only three times greater than the average for the month, but was also the highest recorded rainfall for any winter month, beating the 143.3mm that fell nearly a hundred years ago, in December 1914.
There is no immediate end in sight for the wet weather. At the time of printing, there were still 130 flood alerts and warnings across Oxford and the rest of the South East region. This included a flood warning for the River Thames and its tributaries in Oxford, meaning that immediate preventative action was necessary. There was also a general flood alert for the Oxford area, which instructed residents to be prepared for possible flooding in the near future.
In response to the warnings, Dave Bedlington, flood risk manager at the Environment Agency told Cherwell, “We will continue to monitor the situation very closely as river and groundwater levels across the South East remain high and responsive, and standing water remains in some flood plains.”
Oxford residents and business owners are dreading a repeat of January’s flooding and the loss of custom it caused. Narinder Bhella, owner of the Green Gables Guest House in Abingdon Road, told the Oxford Mail, “Last time we had to cancel all the bookings we had because nobody could get in or out when the road closed. I believe we lost about £1,700 just from loss of advance bookings, but we likely lost more from other guests we would have also had during the week.”
One Oriel student noted, “Maybe it’s a result of climate change, but flooding across England has become a regular occurrence year on year, yet every year we seem to be surprised when it occurs. It’s all very well having an organised response but there need to be more preventative measures in the first place.”
Across the country, concerns have been raised that the Environment Agency did not dredge rivers as thoroughly as they should have done in the autumn. However, Lord Smith, chairman of the Environment Agency, told BBC Breakfast, “Virtually nothing that could have been done would have, I suspect, affected the inundation that we have experienced, simply because of the quantity of rain.”
Oxford MPs Andrew Smith and Nicola Blackwood have both voiced concerns in Parliament about the economic impact of the flooding in the Oxford area and the rising cost of house insurance premiums for regular flood victims.