Met Office confirms the wettest winter on record for UK
The UK has had the wettest winter since national records began in 1910, the Met Office has confirmed.
Separate records held for England and Wales also show the heaviest rainfall since they were started in 1766.
Regional records have also been beaten, with the flood-hit South East of England getting well over double the rainfall expected in a normal winter.
The persistent string of powerful storms and heavy rain brought extensive flooding to parts of the UK.Continue reading the main story
Record winter rain
for the UK, wettest since 1910
for England and Wales,
wettest since 1766
It was 1.5° warmer than average across the UK
108mph strongest gust, recorded in Aberdaron, Wales on 12 Feb
12% more sunshine than average in southern England
About 6,500 homes have been affected by flooding since December, with many people forced to evacuate their homes.
Provisional figures released by the Met Office said 517.6mm of rain fell in the UK between December 1 and February 24.
It compares with an average winter rain fall of 330.4mm between 1981 and 2010.
The wettest winter on record was caused by an extremely powerful Atlantic Jet Stream developing unusually deep and frequent areas of low pressure, which were steered into the UK.
An exceptionally deep area of low pressure moved into the UK on 24 December, with a pressure of 936hPa (hectopascals) recorded at Stornoway in the Western Isles of Scotland, the lowest pressure recorded in the UK for many years.
The low pressures often brought southwesterly winds, with several stormy spells. The strongest storm of the winter brought a top wind gust of 108mph to Aberdaron in north-west Wales on 12 February.
The south-east and central southern England had already broken the winter record on 11 February with a total of 439.2mm. The previous record had stood since 1914-15.
According to the England and Wales precipitation records, some 435mm of rain fell this winter, beating the previous highest total of 423mm also set in 1914-1915.
A Met Office statement said: "We have seen some contrast between the south and north of the UK, with northern Scotland having received a third more rainfall than its long-term average in contrast to the almost two and a half times seen in south-east and central southern England.
"The main reason for the mild and wet winter weather is that we have seen a predominance of west and south-west winds, bringing in mild air from the Atlantic - as well as the unsettled and at times stormy conditions."
The mild weather means the UK is also on target for its fifth warmest winter since records began in 1910.
The average temperature over the past three months was 5.2C (41.4F), about 1.5C higher than the typical winter.
The latest UK-wide figures also show the heavy rain in February led to south-east and central southern England receiving 133.3mm, almost two-and-a-half times the monthly average.
South-west England and south Wales received 201mm, double the average rainfall.
Two severe flood warnings - meaning danger to life - remain in place in Somerset, which has seen an onslaught of flooding this winter.
- In the UK 517.6mm of rain fell this winter, compared with an average of 330.4mm between 1981 - 2010.
- In England 382.7mm of rain fell, compared with 230.4mm
- In Wales 720.7mm of rain fell, compared with 434.1mm
- In Scotland 697mm of rain fell, compared with 471.2mm
- In Northern Ireland 460.8mm of rain fell compared with 314.6mm
The Environment Agency (EA) said the country's largest-ever pumping operation is continuing to reduce flood water on the Levels and Moors.
Across the rest of southern and central England river levels continue to fall slowly, including along the Thames and the Severn.
But affected properties are expected to remain flooded for "some time", the EA added.
The flooding caused widespread disruption to travel services, including damage to rail services in the west country, and has impacted on local business and tourism.
Earlier this month, David Cameron announced that a government scheme to provide grants for homeowners in England hit by the floods would begin on 1 April.
Claimants will be eligible for payments of up to £5,000 to help cover future protection for properties.