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Is flooding in the UK getting worse?

Are we really getting more floods in the UK than we used to? It seems that more and more often on the news we’re seeing the tragedy of people being flooded out of their homes.

For those people, the path towards rebuilding their homes can often be a long one, but the first and most important thing is to get the flood water out – which is where the team at Need a Tanker can help.

But is it actually the case that things are getting worse and, if so, why is it happening and will we get even more flooding in the years to come? In this article, we’re examining these questions and asking how we can better protect our homes and what we need to do should the worst happen.


Flooded road and fields in the uK


Is flooding in the UK getting worse?

Statistics related to climate in the UK are compiled each year by the Royal Meteorological Society(1) and they paint a clear picture showing that we are not only getting more rain but that conditions are tending towards an increased propensity for flooding. 

For instance, 2011-2020 was 9% wetter than the average between 1961-1990, while we have also seen an increase in the number of rainfall events exceeding 50mm.

Meanwhile, five of the ten wettest years since records began in 1836 have occurred in the 21st century, and since 2009 we have also had the wettest ever February, April, June, November and December on record.

At the same time, with average rainfall being comparatively high, we are also getting longer periods of dry weather. 

In other words, we are getting higher levels of rainfall squeezed into shorter periods of time – the perfect conditions for flooding.


What is the cause of increased flooding in the UK?

It’s easy to dismiss the cause of greater flooding as merely being because we’re having more rain. But there are underlying causes for why that is the case together with extraneous factors also affecting what is happening to that rain once it reaches the ground.

These are just a few of the reasons why we’re both getting more rain than we used to and why that is leading to more flooding:

  • Climate change – We are getting, and will continue to get, a warmer and wetter climate. For every 1ºC by which the air warms – and our temperatures are currently just under 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels – it is able to hold an extra 7% more water, meaning heavier rainfall(2).
  • Higher sea levels – The sea rose by 11.4cm around the UK between 1993 and 2022 and the rate at which it is rising is continuing to increase(3). This has particular consequences for coastal communities as well as those along rivers such as the Severn that experience surges.
  • Land use – According to Friends of the Earth, “draining peat bogs, removing hedgerows, destroying salt marshes, concreting green spaces and building on flood plains”(4) are all contributing to the inability of the land to absorb increased levels of rainwater.
  • Old drains – Quite simply, much of the drainage infrastructure we have was not built to deal with the increased levels of both rainwater and domestic and commercial waste water we experience today.


Where in the UK will it be flooded by 2050?

Experts predict that the main areas in the UK likely to see more and worse flooding by 2050 include low-lying parts around the east coast, as well as towns along rivers such as the Severn and the Thames. 

Meanwhile, a study by Fathom(5) – a ‘global leader in flood and climate risk’ – suggested that by 2050, more than 1.3 million UK properties will be at risk of ‘substantial’ flooding, with some of the main areas at greatest risk being Cardiff, Windsor & Maidenhead, Warrington, Barking & Dagenham and Port Talbot.


How do I protect my home from flooding?

If you’re in an area that’s prone to flooding, there are a number of actions you might consider if local flood defence measures aren’t keeping you safe. These include sandbags, flood doors and barriers, self-closing air bricks and non-return valves on drains and pipes.

However, in cases of bad flooding, these may only delay the inevitable, buying you precious time to turn off electrical items and remove precious belongings from low areas before water starts to get into your property.

If you do suffer flooding, promptly engaging the services of flood water removal specialists such as Need a Tanker can keep damage to a minimum. We have a large fleet of modern water tankers and state-of-the-art pumping equipment that can provide a fast and efficient response, with 24-hour emergency callouts available across the UK.

If you want to know more, please get in touch with the team at Need a Tanker today.



  1. Royal Meteorological Society, ‘State of the UK Climate 2021’ and ‘State of the UK Climate 2022
  2. Met Office, ‘UK and global extreme events – heavy rainfall and floods
  3. Royal Meteorological Society, ‘State of the UK Climate 2022
  4. Friends of the Earth, ‘Flooding in the UK
  5. Fathom, ‘UK Flood Map

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