Britain is at a high risk of flooding this autumn and winter after a washout summer, the Environment Agency and Met Office have warned.
The record-breaking rainfall from April to June, followed by more wet weather, has left river levels full, the ground saturated and groundwater exceptionally high.
A house in Dura Den in Fife was almost swept away by the weight of the flood water after almost 36 hours of rain in October
Householders and emergency services are being advised to be prepared for flooding, which with saturated conditions, could occur with relatively small amounts of rain.
Paul Mustow, head of flood incident management at the Environment Agency, said: "This year our flood defences have protected over 119,000 properties, but we cannot prevent flooding entirely.
The floods washed away material around the foundations as a waterfall surged through the backgarden at a block of flats in Newcastle in October
"With one in six homes at risk of flooding, the most important step people can take in protecting themselves from the worst impacts is to find out if they are at risk, and sign up to the Environment Agency's free flood warnings service.
"As winter approaches we'd encourage everyone to take this one step to help protect themselves from what is recognised as the country's number one natural hazard."
The Environment Agency and Met Office are warning that:
- The South West of England is of particular risk of flooding from rivers in November and December with northern and western parts of England at Wales at increased risk after recent heavy rainfall.
An aerial view showing flood water from the River Ouse in York, North Yorkshire.
- Unseasonably high groundwater levels mean there is increased risk of flooding in the south and east of England with Devon, Dorset and Hampshire particularly at risk.
Flooding from surface water, where the amount of rainfall overwhelms the drainage network, is more likely as the ground is already saturated.
The risk of coastal flooding also increases at this time of year, especially during periods of high spring tides from November 12-18 and and December 12-18.
A car is submerged in mud after the waters subsided in an area of Newcastle
Sarah Jackson, the Met Office's chief adviser to the Government, said: "We are heading into the winter period which is traditionally the wetter period of the year in the UK.
"Because the ground is so wet, if we do have any prolonged heavy rainfall in any part of the country, there is going to be heightened risk of flooding.
"We recommend that everyone keeps up-to-date with the latest forecasts and warnings in periods of wet weather to be prepared."
More than 1.1 million people are signed up to receive Environment Agency flood warnings - which can be sent by email, text, or a message to a landline or mobile phone.
This summer, 100,000 households were warned of potential flooding, giving people essential time to protect their homes and possessions.
Households and businesses can check their flood risk and sign up to receive free flood warnings at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/flood.
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