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Climate change a 'factor' in UK storms

13 February 2014, 10:36

London - Britain's weather service says it sees the tentacles of climate change in a spate of storms and floods battering the country, but has stopped short of saying warming directly caused the extreme storms.

The latest round of bad weather hit Britain's west coast on Wednesday with winds gusting at more than 160m/h.

The Met Office said in a paper published this week that "there is no definitive answer" on the role played by climate change in the recent weather and floods.

But it said there is "an increasing body of evidence that extreme daily rainfall rates are becoming more intense", probably due to a warming world.

Met Office chief scientist Julia Slingo told the BBC that "all the evidence suggests there is a link to climate change".

The Met office study discusses evidence of increasingly extreme weather events and changes in the jet stream, but it does not say global warming caused the flooding. To do that, scientists take months, sometimes years, to conduct detailed computer simulations and the report said such research was needed in this case.

England had its wettest January since records were first kept almost 250 years ago, and the country has been lashed by wind and rain since December.

Resulting floods have drenched the southwestern coast of England, the low-lying Somerset Levels and the Thames Valley, west of London, where hundreds of properties have been swamped as the river burst its banks this week.

The Met Office issued a highest-level red warning of "exceptionally strong winds" on Wednesday for west Wales and northwest England.

It said a gust of 170km/h was recorded at Aberdaron in northwestern Wales.

- AP

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