UK – Flash Floods Cause Widespread Disruption in Southern and Eastern England

Flash flooding affected parts of southern and eastern England after torrential rain on 15 and 16 September. The rain caused a landslide which derailed a train, injuring at least two people.

This is the second flood event in as many days in England, after heavy rain on 13 September caused flooding in Manchester and Cornwall.

The storms on Thursday and Friday flooded roads and buildings in several areas of southern and eastern England, including Dorset, Oxfordshire and Kent, but in particular areas in the west and north west of Greater London.

Train services have been severely disrupted and there were delays on the M25, M4 and M40 motorways. The train stations at Didcot Parkway and Newbury were also flooded.

Reuters reported that GlaxoSmithKline had been forced to shut a factory at Maidenhead, west of London, due to flooding.

Train Derailed

The heavy rain caused a landslide in the Watford area, causing a train to be derailed. The BBC say that 2 people were injured. In a statement earlier today, Network Rail said:

“At 7am this morning, a train hit a landslip, caused by torrential rain, resulting in a small section of the train to leave the tracks a few miles north of Watford. The train remained upright and there are no reported passenger injuries.

“Our engineers are on site and train services are now running through the area but it will be some time before a normal timetable resumes.”

High Temperatures

Much of the country had experienced a heatwave throughout the week, with temperatures reaching above 30°C on three consecutive days for the first time in September since 1929. Gravesend recorded 34°C on 13 September, the highest recorded on a September day since 1911.

Rainfall and Flood Warnings

The Met Office reported that intense thunderstorms brought high rainfall totals overnight with Swanage recording 31.8 mm in an hour.

Over the last 24 hours, 45 mm of rain was recorded at Farnborough, Hampshire, with 32.8mm of it falling in just three hours early on 16 September. Farnborough would normally see around 70 mm for the whole of September.

Elsewhere, Benson, Oxfordshire recorded 42 mm, High Wycombe 38 mm, Rothamsted near Harpenden 33 mm and Northolt 28 mm in a 24 hour period to around midday local time, 16 September.

The Met Office issued amber and yellow level warnings for heavy rain for parts of the south and east of England on Thursday 15 and Friday 16 September. In their latest (yellow level) warning, the Met Office said, “heavy rain and thunderstorms will continue to bring locally torrential downpours today. This will bring the risk of 20 to 30 mm of rain in an hour in places, and 40 to 50 mm in a few hours.”

The Environment Agency warned people to be vigilant ahead of heavy rainfall. After the heavy rain on Thursday, Jonathan Day, flood risk manager at the Environment Agency, said:

“Further rainfall is expected on Friday afternoon. This may cause some localised disruption to transport and impacts to property from surface water flooding. Showers could also develop on Saturday afternoon in the far south east of England. People should remain vigilant and check travel arrangements as this could fall across areas already affected by Friday morning’s downpours.

“We urge people not to drive though flood water – it is often deeper than it looks and just 30cm of flowing water is enough to float your car.”

Currently there are 3 Flood Warnings (mid level) where “flooding is expected and immediate action is required” all around the north west area of Greater London. The warnings are for the River Pinn at Yiewsley (near West Drayton), the Silk Stream at Edgware and Colindale and Wealdstone Brook at Kenton.

There are also currently 36 Flood Alerts (lowest level) where “flooding is possible and people should be prepared,” mostly in areas in the south east of England.

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Featured photo: File photo of floods in England by janetmck / Flickr.

Flood Summary

Last updated: September 19, 2016
South and South East England, UK, September 2016
September 16 to September 17, 2016
Flash flood
Extreme rainfall
Flash flooding affected parts of southern and eastern England after torrential rain on 15 and 16 September. The rain caused a landslide which derailed a train, injuring at least two people. Parts of the rail and motorway networks were also flooded, causing travel disruption.


A - Watford Junction
B - Newbury
C - Didcot Parkway
D - Maidenhead


Rainfall level
45 mm in 24 hours
Farnborough, Hampshire - September 15 to September 16, 2016
32.8mm of the total fell in three hours early on 16 September
Rainfall level
42 mm in 24 hours
Benson, Oxfordshire - September 15 to September 16, 2016


2 people
Watford - September 16 to September 16, 2016
2 people were injured after a landslide derailed a train near Watford Junction.