1. ITV Report

Driest 10-month spell since the 1976 heatwave

The River Fynn at Playford near Ipswich in Suffolk. Photo: Jac Coates

Many parts of East Anglia are suffering their most severe drought since the long-hot summer of 1976.

In some areas, like south Essex, the 10-month dry spell since July 2016 is worst on record.

It is causing problems for farmer and gardeners and many of the region's rivers are flowing at much lower levels than normal.

Sunset over the River Blackwater at Shotley near Ipswich. Credit: Graham Meadows

The Environment Agency says the groundwater stocks are generally below normal for the time of year with river flows also below average.

However water stocks in the region's reservoirs are near their normal operating levels.

April had only a third of its usual rainfall.

"East Anglia received an average of 14.8 mm of rainfall, 32% of the long term average for April with most of the rain falling in the final week.

"This continues a predominantly dry period which started 10 months ago in July 2016, with only November seeing above average rainfall.

This has been the driest 10 month period ending in April since 1976 and in South Essex it has been the driest on record.

– Environment Agency
The pier at Walton-on-the-Naze in Essex on 10 May 2017. Credit: Tony Strange

The River Cam in Cambridge and the River Ouzel in Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire are both reported as flowing at 'exceptionally low levels' with about a third of the normal river flow.

The rainfall deficit over the past 10 months in the region amounts to 142 mm which is the equivalent of the rain that usually falls in two and a half months.

377 mm
Rainfall in East Anglia July 2016 to April 2017
519 mm
Normal rainfall in East Anglia July to April

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