No sooner had 20 million people in southern and eastern England been banned from using hosepipes than the heavens opened, and now parts of the country have been told to prepare for flooding.
April has seen day after day of wet and chilly weather, and heavy rain on Wednesday morning led the Environment Agency to issue eight flood warnings and 22 flood alerts across southern England.
Paul Mott, forecaster at MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said the weather was set to remain wet: “It’s going to stay unsettled over the next seven days with frequent showers and persistent rain.
“Sunday looks to be a washout with up to an inch of rain falling across England and Wales.”
Nick Prebble at MeteoGroup said: “Throughout April we have seen 175% more rain than would be normal, totalling 94.3mm (3.7in).”
She told MPs the government was well prepared for this summer’s drought as they had “seen it coming”.
The Environment Agency has previously warned that the drought gripping swaths of England could increase the risk of flash flooding as rain is less easily absorbed by dry, compacted soils, instead running off and causing localised floods.
And while the rain may be welcome for gardeners and farmers, the downpours are not enough to alleviate the drought that stems from two unusually dry winters in a row.
Richard Aylard, from Thames Water, one of seven companies which have brought in hosepipe bans in response to the drought, said a couple of wet weeks was not enough to reverse record dry conditions seen in the region in the past two years.
By the end of Thursday 94.3mm of rain had already fallen this month, which is 175% of April’s England and Wales average of 65mm. This is particularly notable given the paucity of rain in the Aprils of 2011 and 2010: 11.6mm and 30.1mm respectively.
It has been a chilly month as well, and the Central England Temperature (CET) was standing at an average of 7.0C up to 25 April, which is 1.3 degrees below average and a full five degrees lower than April 2011.
The rain and cold have also been accompanied by very blustery conditions, and on Wednesday night high winds tore through the town of Rugby, blowing the roof from one home and damaging others in what residents described as a “mini tornado”. Warwickshire police said a number of properties suffered structural damage.