Wettest summer since records began

LONDON (Reuters) - England and Wales have suffered their wettest early summer since records began in 1766, with heavy rain causing the worst floods for 60 years, weather experts said on Thursday.

Even before the month is out, the Met Office said the period between May and July has seen 38.7cm (15.2 inches) of rain, double the average. That beats the previous record of 34.9 cm (13.7 inches) set in 1789.

“These figures will come as no surprise to many across England and Wales who have suffered flooding from the exceptionally heavy rainfall,” the Met Office said.

A weather station at Fylingdales, North Yorkshire, measured 10.3cm (4.1 inches) of rain in just 24 hours, while Pershore College in Worcestershire had 12cm on July 20 (4.7 inches).

Floods have swamped huge areas of the country, causing an estimated three billion pounds of damage to homes and businesses. Many were left without power and running water.

People near the Avon, Severn, Thames and their tributaries were worst affected. Last month, flooding hit huge swathes of central and northern England.

Farmers said the torrential rain and flooding has devastated crops and dairy farms.

The government has promised 10 million pounds in aid for the stricken areas, on top of the 14 million pounds initially pledged by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.