Chaos in Dorset as Severe Flooding Causes Ongoing Disruption for Residents and Visitors

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Driver Views Flooding in Dorset
Driver Views Flooding in Dorset

Dozens of flood warnings are still in place in Dorset. This is despite today’s weather heralding the beginning of another dry week with sunshine for the south coast of England this January.

Roads as far north of the coast as Salisbury show flood warnings and flood alerts as the UK government’s ‘check for flooding service’ shows updated maps for the region. (1)

The Met Office and Environment agency explain that “overflowing rivers and a high-water table will flood low lying land and roads.

Last weekend many ‘B’ roads linking the towns and the villages in the famously picturesque New Forest region experienced impassable and closed roads due the extremely high levels of river water, caused by the combination of high tides and a week or two of unusually wet weather.

Currently in Dorset alone the following rivers are all showing high water levels: Allen, Avon, Ebble,  Piddle, Sowy, Wey, Winterbourne, Wylye and the Salisbury river Bourne. (2)

This afternoon Dorset council published live travel updates that warned residents and visitors to the area of 5 incidents and severe flooding hazard warnings closing roads in the county. Disruption is expected to last until mid or late February. (3)

Some snowfall and ice have added to the continuing transport problems for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians this week as temperatures in the region struggle to reach five degrees Celsius. Local newspaper Dorset Live described treacherous conditions and on Tuesday an accident closing the A35 Upton bypass after a “multi-vehicle accident due to black ice”. (4)

Last weekend trainloads of rail passengers were unexpectedly left stranded in Brockenhurst on their way to the Dorset coast after major disruption due to a track circuit failure in the New Milton area, which was caused by flooding. Southern Railway urged people not to travel to the area. Getting back to London and other destinations across the country by train was further complicated by additional ongoing engineering works and planned strike action.

Last week the Met Office issued a severe cold weather alert for Dorset as temperatures as low as minus seven degrees Celsius have been forecast during the cold snap the region is currently experiencing. The Daily echo reported emergency action plans put into place to help homeless and rough sleeping residents during a week or two of unusually low and freezing temperatures for the south coast. (5)

In addition to road closures there are dramatic scenes across the county, with some villages and also some new housing estates, left entirely surrounded by flooded fields.

Large polls of standing water and icy ponds can be seen all over this countryside in the south. People of all ages are being reminded by firefighters not to take risks driving through flood water without knowing how deep it is. Parents are being advised to talk with their children and teenagers about avoiding the real dangers of approaching and playing on icy ponds and lakes.

  1. Check for flooding service, UK government website, 23 January 2023 Check for flooding service, UK government website

2. ‘River, sea, groundwater and rainfall levels’ UK Government website, 23 January 2023 ‘River, sea, groundwater and rainfall levels’ UK Government website

3. ‘Live Travel Updates’ Dorset council government website, 23 January 2023 Live Travel Updates’ Dorset council government website

4. ‘Ice and flooding causing disruption to A350 and Dorset routes, with snow now falling’ Edward Church, Mike Taylor and Bertie Adam, Dorset Live, 18 January 2023 ‘Ice and flooding causing disruption to A350 and Dorset routes, with snow now falling’ Edward Church, Mike Taylor and Bertie Adam, Dorset Live

5. ‘Flooding brings chaos across Dorset and New Forest’ Daily Echo, 16th January 2023 ‘Flooding brings chaos across Dorset and New Forest’ Daily Echo