Heavy flooding in the UK will become more frequent and intense because of climate change, the Environment Agency has warned.
Environment Agency chief executive Sir James Bevan said that, although flood defences reduce the risk of flooding, people should be vigilant about checking their personal flood risk.
The Agency’s warning follows a pattern of severe flooding over the past decade, linked to an increase in what it describes as “weather events”.
According to the Met Office, more than half of the 17 seasons or months with record breaking weather events since 1910 have occurred since the turn of the century. These conditions have combined with rising sea levels to increase the frequency and intensity of floods.
The winter of 2013/14 was the wettest for 250 years and resulted in 11,000 homes being flooded, while just two years later, 17,000 homes were flooded as storms hit the north of England.
New research from the Met Office has calculated that there is now a one in three chance of a new monthly rainfall record for at least one English or Welsh region every winter.
The warning came as the Environment Agency launched its Flood Action Campaign, which will encourage young people in particular to check their flood risk.
Bevan said: “Climate change is likely to mean more frequent and intense flooding. Floods destroy – lives, livelihoods, and property.
”Our flood defences reduce the risk of flooding, and our flood warnings help keep communities safe when it threatens. But we can never entirely eliminate the risk of flooding. Checking your flood risk is the first step to protecting yourself, your loved ones and your home.”
Last month, the Environment Agency launched a tender for a £1.5bn flood defence framework.