Drought officially declared in Yorkshire as 9 areas of England run out of water

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A drought has been declared in Yorkshire, the Environment Agency has said.

The region is the ninth of the 14 areas of England administered by the agency to have been moved to drought status in the past week.

Droughts were declared in Devon and Cornwall, Solent and South Downs, Kent and South London, Hertfordshire and North London, East Anglia, Thames, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire, and the East Midlands on Friday.

The last drought in Yorkshire was in autumn 2018, but recent dry weather and high temperatures have impacted rainfall totals, river flows, groundwater and reservoir levels, and soil dryness in the area.

In July, Yorkshire recorded its fifth month in a row of below long-term average rainfall, with below normal river flow conditions reported since August 8.

Victoria Slingsby, environment planning and engagement manager for the Environment Agency in Yorkshire, said: “The high temperatures we are experiencing have exacerbated pressures on wildlife and our water environment in Yorkshire.

“These extreme weather conditions become more likely with climate change.

“We are experiencing some much-needed rain this week, but it will not be enough to correct weeks of dry weather, and it will take more prolonged rainfall to wet up soils and replenish rivers, reservoirs and groundwater levels.

“It’s important for everyone to manage the amount of water they are using in this exceptionally dry period.”

The drought that has been declared for parts of England comes after the driest July on record for some areas and the driest first half of the year since 1976.

The total stock of water in England’s reservoirs at the end of July was 65% of its normal capacity – the lowest level for that point in the calendar year since 1995, the Environment Agency said.

More than two-thirds of reservoirs or groups of reservoirs in England saw their stock of water drop by more than 10% between the end of June and the end of July.

The news comes as the Met Office issued a “danger to life” weather warning to Brits to brace for thunderstorms.

The amber warning is in force from 2pm to 8pm today in the south west of England.

Forecasters say some parts of the region should expect flooding, with almost three inches of rainfall possible in places.

The weather warning is one of four thunderstorm alerts active across the UK today as rainfall finally returns to the country.

It comes after a drought was declared across large swathes of England last week during another scorching heatwave.

The Met Office said: “Thunderstorms and heavy showers are likely to cause travel disruption and, in a few places flooding.

“Thunderstorms and heavy showers currently affecting parts of southwest England are likely to persist into the early evening producing some torrential downpours.

“As much as 60-70 mm rain could build up in a few places. Hail and frequent lightning are likely additional hazards in some places.”