THIS winter has been described as “extraordinary” by council officials.

Bournemouth council’s flood advisory group met on Monday to deliver an update on flooding and drainage issues faced since the start of the year.

The area was hit with high winds and heavy rainfall throughout the season, culminating in the February 14 storm which caused disruption and damage across the conurbation.

Flooding and drainage manager Paul Ambrose told the group that the council had been well prepared for the storms.

“We had three significant events in February of more than 25mm in just over two weeks.

“We would usually expect to see three such events across the whole year,” he added.

“January’s rainfall was 238.88mm which broke the month’s record.

“It has been an extraordinary winter in terms of rainfall.

“There has been a very big change in the weather patterns.”

Mr Ambrose said dozens of trees were believed to have come down in Bournemouth during the Valentine’s Day storm, and showed the group slides of a large tree which had fallen into the River Stour at Iford Meadows.

“We had a major job getting the tree out of the river.

“When it fell it took a big chunk of the bank with it,” he added.

“The events on February 14 were very well predicted and we were able to gear up for it.

“By Friday morning we knew we were in for a major flooding event.”

“We only had one case of internal flooding at a property and they happened to be away on holiday at the time.”

Cllr Michael Weinhonig, who attended the meeting, said he wanted to extend his personal thanks to the fire service and all the staff at the council.

He was grateful for their during the floods on February 14.

He added: “We also need to complement the residents of Bournemouth for their resilience.”

Monitoring continues

The River Stour has experienced problems with flooding this winter and water levels appeared high again this week.

Paul Ambrose said: “The River Stour is largely flooded from groundwater and it responds very quickly to rainfall.”

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said on Tuesday that the River Stour was not at imminent risk of flooding despite the increased recent rainfall.

He added: “It hasn’t triggered any of our alerts or warning systems but we will continue to monitor the area closely as we are aware of how wet it has been over the last day or two.”

On Tuesday it was revealed the Environment Agency’s flood defence spending in the South West has fallen from £45m in 2010-11 to £32m in 2013-14.