Drought expected to be officially declared in the South West tomorrow

A drought is expected to be declared in the South West tomorrow

A drought could be officially declared in the South West of England tomorrow.

The Environment Agency's National Drought Group is set to meet, with a drought likely to be officially declared in the South West on Friday 12 August.

ITV News West Country understands there will be ministerial representation at the meeting.

It comes as the Met Office has put in place an amber weather warning for extreme heat following an already prolonged period of dry weather.

Water firms are already operating under their drought plans, so if an official drought is declared little will change for people living in the region. But the declaration could mean a series of restrictions on water use are introduced - including possible hosepipe bans.

What is a drought?

A drought is an extended period of low rainfall. Some droughts are short and intense – for example, a hot, dry summer – while others are long and take time to develop over multiple seasons.

While there is no one set definition for a drought to be triggered, there are three main types - an environmental drought, an agricultural drought and a water supply drought.

Reduced river flows, wild fires, insufficient moisture within soils on agricultural land and diminishing water reserves are all taken into account.

When is the heatwave due to end?

The South West has been experiencing below-average rainfall since the start of winter.

In winter 2021/22, rainfall was 11% below the average usually seen in the region at that time of year.

In spring, the amount of rain was 35% below average and so far this summer it is 60% below average.

However while the heatwave is set to last until the end of this week, Monday 15 August is set to bring rain with a mixture of light and heavy showers forecast throughout next week.