What happens after the rain? How flooding is managed

Autumn and winter are usually the wettest and windiest times of year, bringing grey days and heavy rain, but a forecast or warning of prolonged rainfall and gales isn't where the story ends.

What happens after the rain has fallen or the wind has whipped up huge waves is where things get potentially devastating. Thankfully there are plenty of people in place to make sure the impacts are as small as possible.

Environment Agency flood exercise

Using Met Office forecasts the Environment Agency (EA) are able to work with the Police and Fire service, contractors, the army and those of you at home in flood risk areas to minimise the effects of flooding.

This collaboration was strengthened further in 2009 with the combination of meteorologists and hydrologists to form the Flood Forecasting Centre (FFC), based in the Met Office in Exeter.

They provide a five-day "flood guidance statement" to government and emergency responders to help prepare them for flooding with as much notice as possible.

  • Brian Vinall, Flood Forecasting Centre

During regular exercises the EA trains local contractors and the army right across the UK to use their flood defences, whether it's temporary barriers or pumps. Up to 900 metres of flood barrier can be in place within two hours, and their most powerful pumps can remove a tonne of water per second!

Temporary flood barriers being installed
Environment Agency water pump
  • Kevin Barnes, Environment Agency

Having the lead time from the FFC's flood guidance forecasts is so important to make sure everything is in place before the waters rise, but its also important for people in those flood risk areas to work together as well and protect as much of their property and as many of their memories as they can. There may well be flood wardens in your community who will often be the first port of call, a friendly face and a reassuring presence should there be a threat of flooding.

  • Kevin Barnes, Environment Agency

  • Karen Ross, Lostwithiel's Community Flood Group Coordinator

So, from billions of observations reaching the Met Office each day, to meteorologists using that information to make forecasts, to the FFC tailoring that data for the EA to protect against flooding, it shows the scale of this specific part of weather. It also shows how a joined up approach helped to protect more than 130,000 homes last winter from temporary flood defences alone.

Check whether you're at risk from flooding and sign up to flood warnings by visiting the Environment Agency website.