Forecasting extreme floods – 10 years of rich learning at the UK Flood Forecasting Centre

16:15 Tuesday 28 May

SS017 • OC101

Room S10


Crystal Moore (United Kingdom) 1; Elizabeth Parkes (United Kingdom) 2

1 – Deputy Director, Head of Flood Forecasting Centre; 2 - Environment Agency


High impact, low probability events have been a feature of the first 10 operational years of the Flood Forecasting Centre. This period of flooding at historical extremes has included the wettest UK summer and winter on record, the most significant coastal flooding for a generation, the highest ever recorded groundwater levels and a conveyor of 12 storms which caused prolonged, widespread and severe flooding during the winter of 2013/14. This record breaking pattern persisted in 2015/16 when communities in the north of England were devastated by 2 record breaking extreme floods within 20 days and a new 3 hr record rainfall event causing flash flooding in the south west of England in the summer of 2017.

Each event has shaped the development of the centre, new science, the civil and military response. Ultimately improved flood forecasts have led to new capabilities being developed that reduce the misery of flooding for communities. These include the ability to provide mutual aid across territories, establish strategic holding areas for emergency services to pre-deploy and the rapid deployment a mobile flood defence capability.


Our way of working has enabled us to rapidly improve the timeliness, accuracy and communication of flood forecasts. Our learning and evolution of services will be shared.


Collaboration is key to bridging and closing knowledge gaps. In this presentation I will share some of our recent successes and current challenges that we would love to work with others to solve.