8,000 homes and businesses were flooded last year

Almost 8,000 homes and businesses were flooded last year as the UK was repeatedly battered by heavy rain, storms and floods. But 2012 began with a number of water companies imposing hosepipe bans as swathes of England faced drought following two dry winters.

The dry weather then gave way to persistent rain, with the UK experiencing a record April and June, and the wettest summer in a century.

Farmers' crops were hit by the unusually wet summer, while the UK's wildlife struggled in poor conditions, with only a few species including slugs and orchids thriving. The Met Office said changes in sea surface temperatures and a reduction of Arctic sea ice could be helping to increase rainfall.

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Flood warnings across UK

Flood warnings and alerts remain in place across the country as forecasters predict more wet weather. 2012 looks set to become the wettest year on record for the UK.