January breaks all records as weather looks set to continue

Courtesy of View from Online: Dorchester

 Parts of Dorset has suffered the wettest January since records started 120-years-ago – with a warning that February may be just as wet.

Dorchester has suffered more than nine inches of rain in January, compared to the long-term average of just over four inches. 

The previous record was set in 1906 with 8.4 inches.

When December’s figures are added the total for the two months amounts to 17.5 inches – despite the first 11 days of December recording no rain at all.

Some roads in the county remain flooded as the Met’ Office warns that more heavy rainfall is on the way this week and possibly for the coming weekend.

Eastbound traffic on the Dorchester bypass near the Stadium Roundabout was again affected at the weekend and the West Stafford bypass continues to be affected by floodwater despite works towards the end of last year designed to solve the long-term problem.

Strong winds and heavy rain coinciding with high tides, full rivers and sodden ground increase the risk for residents of more flooding to come.

Warnings have been issued by the County Council to take care along coastal paths and on beaches with a risk of landslips remaining high.

At the weekend there were 32 flood warnings and 43 flood alerts issued by the Environment Agency for the South West, including the area from Dorchester to East Stoke near Wareham, West Stafford and Bockhampton.

“River levels in the Lower Frome from Dorchester to East Stoke remain above flood warning thresholds.

“High groundwater levels are adding to river flow and existing high river levels will be raised still further if forecast rainfall occurs,” said an Environment Agency spokesman.

All of the Winterbourne villages near Dorchester as well as Martinstown are being monitored by the agency as being potentially at risk from flood.

West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin has been meeting with farmers, Natural England and the Environment Agency to discuss finding a balance between clearing rivers to keep water flowing and protecting natural habitats.

“The measures will vary from location to location, but essentially, they are about clearing obstacles that have accumulated in streams and rivers.”