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In the UK, we are used to rainy days and generally unpleasant weather, even in summer. However, although rainfall may be frequent, we’re lucky in the sense that we’re not often subjected to torrential downpours.
Floods do happen from time to time, but they are a rare occurrence. If you would like to know more about floods in general, make sure to check our Understanding Floods and Protecting Against Them article.
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Torrential rain is defined as ‘rainfall greater than 100mm in 24 hours’, and when torrential rainfall happens, it can cause significant issues for our drains. But how do we know if torrential rain is coming, and where is it most likely to happen?
The conditions for normal rain are seen when water vapour in the air condenses into liquid and falls from the sky. In order for heavy or torrential rainfall to occur, the amount of moisture in the air must be disproportionately large when compared to the size of the air mass.
There’s a range of potential consequences to heavy rain, depending on where you live and the immediate surroundings of your property. Some of the general problems that you may face in the event of torrential rain include:
Runoff – This is more of a universal issue for properties of all kinds, whereby the rain falls too quickly for the ground to absorb it, so it starts to ‘run off’. This water can transport harmful materials like pesticides, oil and other waste into areas where contamination is a possibility.
Flooding – Floods are the problem most commonly associated with torrential downpours, and serious flooding can be catastrophic in a number of ways. Without proper flood defences, land, buildings and people can be left at the mercy of large volumes of rushing water, which can cause untold damage to homes and businesses, and torrential rainfall can even be fatal to people and animals caught up in the floods.
Mudslides – This issue is particularly troublesome for properties that are based at the bottom of hills or mountains – if you’re surrounded by flat land, mudslides are unlikely to affect you. During or after extremely heavy rainfall, soil can liquify, and this can cause the ground to slip away. This debris and mud can barrell down a hillside at very high speeds, and it can destroy buildings, roads and anything else that happens to be caught up in it.
The drains in our properties can only deal with a certain amount of rainfall. Once that limit is exceeded, water will start to overflow, and that overflow can contain waste from our pipes and sewage systems. Waste can enter our homes and businesses, posing significant risks to health, hygiene and safety. Drainage systems in place below our lawns can also reach breaking point, meaning that water pools on the grass, damaging the surface and creating similar hygiene risks to leaks that occur inside a property.
If you have checked your local weather forecast, or you’ve signed up to text or email alerts from your local authority and you know there’s heavy rain on the way, there are several heavy rain solutions to protect your property from damage.
Make sure your gutters are clear before any heavy rainfall. If they’re clear, they’ll drain as efficiently as possible – if they’re blocked with leaves and debris, they’ll drain slowly or not at all, and you’ll soon find them overflowing.
If you’re particularly worried about flooding in your area, there are some preventative measures you can take. Putting sandbags against your doors, for example, or moving all valuable items upstairs if possible – TVs, any appliances you can move; put them all on higher ground to reduce the chances of them being damaged. The same goes for pets that you usually keep downstairs.
This is something that should be done when you first move into your property, but make sure you have good building and contents insurance in place, so you and your belongings are covered in the event of a flood or damage from heavy rainfall.
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