THE River Thames has flooded hundreds of homes and businesses in Surrey and Middlesex as its waters have risen to their highest level for at least 30 years in places such as Egham, Chertsey, Walton, Staines, Shepperton and Runnymede. The flooding is the worst since 1947. One thousand homes are flooded in Surrey alone.
WEDNESDAY UPDATE (February 12th 2014):
Water levels on the Thames this morning (Wednesday) have eased a little from their highest levels earlier this week. In the past 24 hours, the water level has generally dropped by 2 to 8cms (one to three inches) but remain extremely high.
There is extensive flooding of properties and rest centres for flood victims are in operation at Spelthorne Leisure Centre, Staines, Middlesex; in Elmbridge borough at Manor Road; and at New Haw, near Addlestone. Thirty people, including two families are currently being cared for at the New Haw centre. One of those is a 92-year-old widower who was rescued by ambulance from the roadside outside his flooded bungalow.
There is a huge rescue operation involving Surrey and Sussex Police, the Army, Surrey, Northamptonshire and Norfolk fire and rescue services, Metropolitan Police and the Highways Agency together with Surrey County Council and the district and local authorities. More than 40 Thames-side roads are closed by flooding and 900 homes along the Thames in Berkshire, Surrey and Middlesex have been flooded. Groundwater levels have risen and even properties away from the River Thames are being flooded after the wettest winter in history. Twenty inches of rain have fallen in the Surrey hills since mid December and this huge amount of water has gradually been seeping down into the chalk sub-stratas and making its way slowly into the Thames.
Heavy rain is forecast for this afternoon with gales. More rain is expected on Friday which may well be heavy and add to the flooding problems.
Six hundred Thames-side homes in Surrey have been evacuated . The flooding is said to be the worst since March 1947.
*At Walton on Thames, at 6am, the Environment Agency measured a depth of 4.29m. The level has dropped by 8cm (4in) in the past 24 hours.
*Upstream at Sunbury Lock, at 6am, the water level was 0.82m. The level has dropped 7cm (2.5ins) in 24 hours.
*Upstream at Shepperton Lock, the level at 6am was 1.06m and had dropped 4cm (nearly 2in) in 24 hours.
*Upstream at Chertsey Lock, at 6am, the level was 1.29m, and had dropped 1cm (half an inch) in 24 hours.
*Upstream at Penton Hook, near Laleham, the level at 6am was 1.37m and had RISEN by 1cm (half an inch) in 24 hours
* Thames Ditton island's water level was 6.58m at 5.15am. The level had dropped by 8cm (3in) in 24 hours.
WARNING OF WORSE TO COME IN SURREY:www.surreymirror.co.uk/Surrey-weatherman-Ian-Currie-issues-new-grim/story-20603632-detail/story.html
TUESDAY MORNING UPDATE (February 11th 2014):
Water levels on the Thames have stabilised overnight. In places the level upstream has risen by 2cm. Downstream, it has fallen by 2cm.
*At Walton on Thames, at 7am the Environment Agency measured a depth of 4.37m. The level had dropped by 2cm (nearly 1in) since 10pm last night.
*Upstream at Sunbury Lock, at 7am the level was 0.89m, and had dropped by 1cm since 10pm last night and levelled off overnight after reaching its highest point at 6pm last night.
*Upstream at Shepperton Lock, at 7am the level was 1.10m and had levelled off, but was 1cm higher than at 10pm last night.
*Upstream at Chertsey Lock, the level at 7am was 1.3m. This was 1cm higher than at 10pm.
*Upstream at Penton Hook, near Laleham, the level at 7am was 1.36m, which was 3cm (just over an inch) higher than at 10pm.
*At Thames Ditton Island, the level at 7am was 6.67m, 3cm lower than at 10pm.
A full-scale emergency operation involving Surrey Police, Sussex Police, Surrey Fire and Rescue, Northampton Fire and Rescue, the military, ambulance service, local authoriities and the Environment Agency is taking place along the Thames in Surrey, Middlesex and Berkshire.
Five hundred roads have been flooded in the Surrey County Council area alone. 150 people have been rescued, many of them drivers stuck in flood water after risking motoring through the torrents.
Emergency rest centres have been opened but are reported to be quiet. House to house visits are being made by 999 crews. As many as 2,500 homes are at risk of flooding and 900 homes alongside a 12-mile stretch of the Thames have already been under water.
More heavy rain is forecast mid week.
MONDAY MORNING UPDATE (February 10th 2014):
The level of the Thames has risen slightly overnight.
*At Walton on Thames, the level rose 6cms(2in) in the 12 hours up to 7am. The level at 7am was 4.37m, the highest in any time since records started in 1990. The previous highest was 4.04m.
*At Thames Ditton, the level was 6.75m, beating the previous highest level of 6.7m recorded since measurements begun in January 2003. The level here was the same as at 7pm on Sunday.
*Upstream at Chertsey Lock, the measurement recorded by the Environment Agency was 1.27m, beating the previous record of 1.08m since records began here in 1985. The level had gone up 4cms (almost 2ins) in the 12 hours up to 7am today.
The Army have been issuing sandbags to businesses and householders on the Shepperton side of Chertsey Bridge, which is closed to traffic.
At Runnymede, the Army has been helping in the crisis, too.
Surrey Police are co-ordinating the emergency operations.
SUNDAY EVENING UPDATE (February 9th 2014): There are now 14 severe flood warnings along the Thames in Surrey, Middlesex, and West Berkshire as levels continue to slowly rise. In many places, the water level is the highest in at least 30 years. Severe warnings mean life and property is at risk. Widespread property flooding is likely at Egham and Staines and other stretches in the next day or two.
SATURDAY'S EARLIER REPORT (February 8th 2014):
More than half an inch of rain fell overnight in Surrey and when the swollen streams feeding the Thames discharge this extra rainfall, it will burst its banks in more places over the next few days, the Environment Agency warn today.
At Walton on Thames, the river's highest level since at least 1990 was measured this morning at 7am. The depth was 4.09m. The previous highest was 4.04m.
The highest level since 1985 was also recorded this morning at Penton Hook, west of Laleham.
At Sunbury, the Environment Agency said that some property flooding is already occurring.
"Some flooding to property closest to the river is already occurring. Levels will continue to rise and further extensive property flooding is to be expected," said the Agency. "The current river forecast suggests that by the middle of next week the river in this area could reach a similar level to January 2003."
The level at Sunbury Lock this morning at seven o'clock was 0.65m, only a few centimetres short of the highest level previously recorded at the locality since detailed records began in 1985.
At Shepperton Lock, there was a similar picture with the river level just 9cms short of the highest previously recorded in the area since observations were first kept in January 1985.
At Chertsey Lock, the Thames this morning was 1.11m. This figure beats the highest figure of 1.08m measured in the past 29 years.
The Environment Agency said on Friday afternoon that the Thames at Kingston and Surbiton is high and rising slowly. "River levels are expected to continue to rise slowly over the next few days in response to recent and further forecast rainfall. Flooding of properties located closest to the river is expected. The current river forecast suggests that river levels in this area could reach a higher level than those seen in January 2003."
In Egham and Staines, flooding of properties can be expected at any time over the next few days.
The Environment Agency said on Friday: "The River Thames in the Staines and Egham area has risen in response to the recent rainfall and is forecast to continue to rise until the beginning of next week. Property flooding is to be expected from today onwards. The current river forecast suggests that river levels in this area could reach a similar or higher level than those seen in January 2003."
All sections of the Thames in Surrey and Middlesex are on a Flood Warning, the second highest alert issued by the Enviroment Agency.
Regarding Walton on Thames, the Agency said: "The River Thames in the Walton area has risen in response to rainfall earlier in the week and is forecast to continue to rise until the beginning of next week. Further flooding of properties located closest to the river is expected."
There was a similar situation at Thames Ditton, with low-lying properties on Thames Ditton Island likely to flood as water levels reach their highest level for several years.
In East Molesey and West Molesey, there is also a risk to Thames-side homes and businesses.
"Property flooding is possible over the coming days. The current river forecast suggests that river levels in this area could reach a similar or higher level than those seen in January 2003," said the Agency, referring to the Moleseys.
The River Mole levels are rising, but have not reached a level yet where there is any flooding danger but once the overnight rain reaches the river, this could change.
The Surrey Weather Book author and meteorology expert Ian Currie, of Rickman Hill, Coulsdon, was last night expecting to announce that the county had just had its wettest winter ever recorded, beating the famous wet and muddy winter of 1914-15 when so many soldiers perished in the battlefield quagmires in the First World War. He has already measured the wettest January ever recorded and can find none wetter going back at least 150 years.
"If there is another 3mms of rain today, the record will be broken," said Mr Currie, who is editor of the Weather Eye magazine. "The record is bound to be broken with all the showers that are coming."
The Met Office predicts some further showers and gales today and more stormy weather on Tuesday which is likely to further push up the levels of the Thames later in the week.
*The A308 Windsor Road in Runnymede is closed in both directions between Runnymede Roundabout and the A328 Priest Hill junction, because of flooding.
*The B375 Chertsey Bridge Road in Chertsey is closed in both directions between the B387 Weir Road junction and the Littleton Lane junction, because of flooding
* Plough Lane in Cobham is blocked between the Ockham Lane junction and the Downside Road junction, because of flooding.
* The A22 in Whyteleafe between the Wapses Lodge roundabout and Purley is still closed because of an underground water course - or bourne - which has risen to ground level and flooded homes, and put the Kenley Water Pumping Station at risk of being closed down.