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Extreme weather warnings face change following Boscastle flood

EXTREME WEATHER warnings ahead of localised events like last month's Boscastle's flash flood could be ditched by the Environment Agency, officials said this week.

Instead the Agency wants to encourage locally co-ordinated emergency response units to warn residents ahead of extreme events.

The Agency said the Boscastle floods developed too quickly for officials to relay information to residents (NCE 19/26 August).

In Boscastle 75mm of rain fell on surrounding hills between midday and 2pm on 16 August, triggering the flash flood.

'The best thing for Boscastle might be to raise public awareness rather than to invest in flood defences, ' said Environment Agency south west regional flood defence manager Richard Horrocks.

'We're looking at an extremely local event which happened very quickly and couldn't be predicted by the Met Office, ' he said.

Agency flood warnings usually require a two hour leadin. 'But by the time the rains landed in Boscastle it was too late to warn people, ' explained Horrocks.

He added that while flooding in large rivers such as the Severn could be predicted a few days in advance, the floods in Boscastle developed in minutes.

'There's actually no instrument available which can predict events taking place in two to three hours, ' said Horrocks.

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