Heavy rain and gales 18-20 November 2009

23 November 2009


Heavy rain affected many parts of north-west Britain during 18, 19 and 20 November 2009, and this rain led to widespread flooding. This was caused by an Atlantic weather front becoming almost stationary across Northern Ireland, Cumbria and south-west Scotland.

This front and the south-westerly winds associated with it drew very warm, moisture laden air northwards from the Azores region. The rain was intensified by the mountainous terrain of Cumbria and southwest Scotland resulting in record rainfall totals.

Weather data

In Cumbria, 372.4 mm of rain fell at Seathwaite and 361.4 mm of rain at Honister between 0800 on Wednesday 18 November and 0400 on Friday 20 November. Provisionally, the 24-hour total at Seathwaite (ending 0045 on Friday 20 November) of 314.4 mm is a UK record for a single location in any given 24-hour period.


Hourly rainfall images 2000 Wednesday 18 to 0600 Friday 20 November 2009

Hourly rainfall images 2000 Wednesday 18 to 0600 Friday 20 November 2009

November rainfall totals in millimetres
 Location 17-18 November
(08-08 UTC)
18-19 November
(08-08 UTC)
19-20 November
(08-08 UTC)
3 day total 1-20 November November average
Shap 55.4 mm 50.2 mm 91.2 mm 196.8 mm 444.2 mm 196 mm
St Bees Head 23.4 mm 13.6 mm 40.6 mm 77.6 mm 140.8 mm 100 mm
Keswick 41.8 mm 39.4 mm 107.8 mm 189.0 mm 375.0 mm 182 mm
Warcop 28.6 mm 13.4 mm 20.8 mm 62.8 mm 163.4 mm 101 mm
Walney Island 17.6 mm 8.0 mm 47.6 mm 73.2 mm 169.4 mm 106 mm
Carlisle 19.6 mm 7.8 mm 14.4 mm 41.8 mm 137.0 mm 77 mm
Dumfries and Galloway
Eskdalemuir 17.4 mm 34.4 mm 89.8 mm 141.6 mm 298.6 mm 168 mm
Dundrennan 16.4 mm 14.8 mm 21.8 mm 53.0 mm 192.2 mm 109 mm
Drumalbin 6.4 mm 17.6 mm 23.8 mm 47.8 mm 143.6 mm 91 mm
West Freugh 9.2 mm 6.4 mm 7.2 mm 22.8 mm 128.8 mm 118 mm
Prestwick 10.2 mm 14.6 mm 23.2 mm 48.0 mm 129.6 mm 100 mm


The most widespread impacts were in Cumbria, where more than 1,300 homes were affected by flooding, and many more were left without power and water. A number of bridges were swept away and others were closed pending inspection by structural engineers. There was severe travel disruption on both roads and railways. The worst affected town was Cockermouth where water levels reached 2.5 m.

Parts of Scotland were also badly affected with some property flooding and widespread travel disruption in Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders.

There was also some flooding in parts of north Wales, with travel disruption.

How we did

On Monday 16 November we issued an Advisory of severe weather in western Britain for Thursday 19 November, and this was upgraded to an Early warning of severe weather on Tuesday 17 November for parts of north-west England and south-west Scotland. After discussion with the Environment Agency, SEPA and the Flood Forecasting Centre this was upgraded again to an Early warning of Extreme weather in Cumbria and south-west Scotland on Wednesday 18 November. Throughout the week our Public Weather Service advisors talked to emergency responders about the upcoming heavy rain, helping them to put emergency procedures into place to prepare for the floods. The advisors were in constant contact with responders during and after the flood, as more rain was forecast. We also kept the Cabinet Office and senior government officials briefed on the situation.

Next steps

The unsettled weather is continuing, so there is more rain forecast for many parts of the United Kingdom. More warnings have been issued, and we will continue to ensure the United Kingdom is as prepared as it can be for any further impacts.

Please note that all values and statements are provisional and subject to change.

Last updated: 13 April 2016

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