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Wettest winter in England, Wales, for almost 250 yrs

Source: Reuters - Thu, 27 Feb 2014 13:08 GMT
Author: Reuters
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Urban landscape taken in the flooded Somerset village of Moorland, UK, Feb. 16, 2014. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton
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* Around 435 mm of rain recorded up to Feb. 24

* Winter also warmer than usual

* Britain saw worst floods in 50 yrs

LONDON, Feb 27 (Reuters) - This winter has already been the wettest for almost 250 years in England and Wales, Britain's national weather service the Met Office said on Thursday.

Around 435 millimetres (17 inches) of rain was recorded up to Feb. 24 in England and Wales, making it their wettest winter since 1766.

"New records have been set for many parts of the UK, with southeast and central southern England having seen well over double the rainfall expected in a normal winter," the Met Office said in a statement.

Provisional rainfall figures from Dec. 1, 2013 to Feb. 25, 2014 also show that Britain as a whole experienced its wettest winter since records began in 1910.

Over the past few months, heavy rainfall and storms in Britain, particularly in England and Wales, have resulted in the worst floods for the country in 50 years.

Floods have devastated homes and businesses, disrupted transport and ruined crops. Analysts at Deloitte estimate that the bill for repairs may end up reaching 1 billion pounds ($1.66 billion).

This winter is also set to be around 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer than average, the Met Office said.

Britain's mean temperature has been 5.2 degrees C so far this winter, making it the fifth warmest winter on record.

"The main reason for the mild and wet winter weather is that we have seen a predominance of west and south-west winds, bringing in mild air from the Atlantic - as well as the unsettled and at times stormy conditions," the Met Office said.

($1 = 0.6011 British pounds) (Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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