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Red warning of rain, 17-20 November 2009

The example below details an event that happened in Cumbria. It would have generated a red warning of rain with the new warning service.

Rain Warning Red


The weather had been generally wet and disturbed for a number of weeks prior to this event with autumn rains causing increasing ground saturation and a seasonal rise in river levels. A south-westerly air stream brought very mild air across the UK during this period. As this mild, moist air arrived over the Cumbrian mountains, it resulted in exceptionally large amounts of rainfall over three to four days.

Rainfall totals across Cumbria for the period 0900 GMT on 17 November to 0900 GMT on 20 November included:

Seathwaite Farm  456.4mm   
Honister Pass  454.4mm
High Snab Farm  401.4mm
Thirlmere, Nook  326.8mm
Mickleden, Middle Fell  309.2mm
Rydall Hall  303.1mm
Grassmere, Tanner Croft  294.7mm
Brotherswater  293.2mm
Dale Head  292.8mm
St Johns Beck  265.8mm

The key feature of this event was the prolonged nature of the heavy rainfall over several days.


Floodwater flows under a bridge

  • Bridge collapses - one resulting in the tragic death of PC Bill Barker who was attempting to prevent traffic crossing the bridge.
  • Widespread surface and river flooding.
  • Multiple road closures.
  • Extensive and intense multi-agency response from local and national organisations including mountain rescue, RAF, Army, local authorities, International Rescue and The Red Cross.
  • Power failures to several hundreds of homes.
  • People rescued from floods in Cockermouth.
  • 500 people displaced by floods. Emergency rest centres opened in schools and community centres.

Warning Assessment

Based on the new warning system the following assessments would have been made:

  • Likelihood - high
  • Impact - high

This would have resulted in a red warning for rain:

Red Warning

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