9:30am Thursday 3rd May 2012
There is little prospect of standpipes being used to help drought-hit residents because a third dry winter is very unlikely, an Oxfordshire rainfall expert said yesterday.
Terry Marsh, who collects rainfall data at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology near Wallingford, spoke out after Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said another dry winter could make it more likely for standpipes to be brought in to drought-hit areas next year.
Oxfordshire, as well as large parts of the rest of the country, is in drought after two extremely dry winters, but last month was one of the wettest on record and more heavy rain is forecast today with cloudy conditions tomorrow.
Several rivers in the county remained on Flood Alert yesterday, with the Environment Agency warning roads and fields could be flooded.
Mr Marsh said: “The last two winters have been notably dry but a third winter when rainfall is below average is very unlikely indeed, so I don’t think we should expect standpipes.
“Historically there have been few examples of three dry winters in a row and you have to go back to the 1890s and the early years of the 20th century for the last cluster of dry winters – about 13 out of 16 had below average rainfall.”
Mrs Spelman said: “It’s far too early to tell yet whether we are going to have the wet winter we do need. It’s most unlikely we would have standpipes this year.”
Rivers on Flood Alert yesterday were the Thames throughout Oxfordshire, the Cherwell from Lower Heyford to Oxford, the Evenlode from Moreton-in-Marsh to Cassington, and the Glyme at Wootton and Woodstock, the Ock from Watchfield to Abingdon, the River Thame and Chalgrove Brook, and the River Ray, south of Bicester.
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