UK – Widespread Flooding After Storm Bella

Heavy rainfall brought by Storm Bella caused flooding across Central England over the last few days,  prompting evacuation orders and high water rescues.

Strong winds from the storm also caused severe damages and left thousands of households in France and the UK without electricity. The Isle of Wight in southern England saw wind gusts of 170km/h.

Floods rescues and evacuations in Northamptonshire after heavy rain from Storm Bella December 2020 UK. Photo: Northamptonshire Search and Rescue

Floods in England

Heavy rain from the storm caused rivers to break their banks in parts of Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire and Worcestershire.

Authorities advised residents of 1,300 homes in Bedfordshire to evacuate on 25 December following flooding from the River Great Ouse. Around 40 homes suffered flood damage in the town of Bedford.

Around 1,000 people were evacuated from a flooded caravan park at Billing Aquadrome in Northamptonshire after the River Nene broke its banks. A further 20 homes were evacuated in Kettering, Northamptonshire Search and Rescue Services said.

Severe flooding was also reported along the Severn in Worcestershire, in particular in areas around the small town of Upton-upon-Severn.

Heavy rain caused flash flooding in Oxfordshire on 24 December. About 40 homes were flooded in Witney and Fewcott.

In Norfolk, hundreds of families in Thetford, Brandon and Hockwold were advised to leave their homes on 26 December due to the threat of flooding from the rising River Little Ouse.

In Cambridgeshire the River Great Ouse broke its banks causing flooding in several areas including the town of St Neots.

In North Yorkshire, flash floods overnight, 26 to 27 December prompted high water rescues in Hawes, Aysgarth and Wensley, according to North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Levels of the River Great Ouse at Bedford, late December 2020. Image: Environment Agency
Levels of the River Nene at Nene Valley, Northamptonshire late December 2020. Image: Environment Agency
Levels of the River Great Ouse at St Neots, Cambridgeshire, late December 2020. Image: Environment Agency
Levels of the River Severn at Saxons Lode, near Upton-upon-Severn, Worcestershire, late December 2020. Image: Environment Agency


Heavy rainfall was also reported in parts of Scotland. The UK’s Met Office said that Achnagart recorded 82.6mm of rain in 24 hours to 26 December.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency warned on 26 December that “Storm Bella is bringing wind and rain today which will cause difficult travel conditions, possible flooding of known trouble spots and coastal wave overtopping in the North and West of Scotland. Flood Alerts and Warnings have been issued.”