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Last year was West's third wettest since rainfall records began in 1910

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 04, 2013

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The Westcountry came close to breaking its own record for the amount of rainfall during a single year in 2012, following months of wet weather and flooding.

Last year was the third wettest year in the South West since records began more than a century ago in 1910, the Exeter-based Met Office revealed yesterday.

The total rainfall for 2012 was 1,574mm (62 inches) across the whole of the region – falling short of the 1,591mm (62.6in) recorded in 1960 and 1,584mm (62.4in) in 2000.

Records were broken for the months of April when 174.6mm (6.9in) fell soon after the Environment Agency declared a drought in the Westcountry, and then again in June when another 194mm (7.6in) fell.

But in a year of extremes, the month of March had only 28.8mm (1.1in) of rain, making it the ninth-driest on record.

Despite also having a dry February and May, Devon saw its second-wettest year with 1,607.7mm (63.3in) of rain and Cornwall had its fifth-wettest of 1,495.3mm (58.9in) of rain.

Met Office spokesman Helen Chivers said: "Last year there was a large variation in rainfall levels.

"Although overall there was a lot of rain, it didn't quite manage to break the record.

"Being on the west side of the country the South West tends to get the rain first which is why there can be higher rainfall figures."

Persistent wet weather saw a number of other records broken, and led to a total rainfall for the UK for the year of 1,330.7mm (52.4in) just 6.6mm short of the figure for the year 2000.

It was the wettest year on record for England and the third wettest for Wales, but Scotland experienced only its 17th wettest year and in Northern Ireland it was the 40th wettest.

The Met Office also said there had been a high frequency of wet years since 2000, with four of the five wettest years on record occurring since the beginning of this century.

It disclosed preliminary evidence suggesting the UK could be getting slightly more annual rainfall and it may be falling in more intense downpours. It also said rising global temperatures may have influenced increased rainfall.

The official forecasters said the country was getting wetter, with average long-term rainfall increasing by about 5% between the periods 1961-1990 and 1981-2010.

Met Office spokesman Dan Williams said: "This year we had several wet months in a row with not much respite.

"The months of April to December had pretty high rainfall levels."

The South West had 25% more rainfall than average during the year, with England experiencing almost a third more rain than normal as it recorded its wettest ever year.

December was the seventh-wettest with a total of 257mm of rain – 78% above average.

Hundreds of Westcountry homes and businesses were flooded last year as drought in early 2012 gave way to repeated storms and bands of rain, with the South West bearing the brunt of extreme weather including having the wettest summer in a century.

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