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Drought risk to England regions after (slightly) dry February, scientists warn

March 18, 2023

By Paul Homewood

Here we go again!


It might feel wet this week but experts are warning that parts of England need unseasonable rainfall to compensate for an abnormally dry winter.

Rivers in some of England and Wales ran their lowest on record for February, according to data from the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

England had its driest February for 30 years, according to the Met Office.

Rivers and reservoirs that supply drinking water and feed crops rely on winter rain to top up before spring.

Without "unseasonably sustained rainfall" in the coming months, South West England and East Anglia are at risk of drought, the UKCEH explains.

"The wet weather and snow during the first two weeks of March has led to an increase in river flows and rewetting of the soils [but] some areas of England were starting March with below-average groundwater levels or below-average reservoir stocks," Steve Turner at UKCEH told BBC News.


One dry month and they’re crying drought!

By historical standards, February was not abnormally dry, and rainfall for the winter as a whole was close to average.


With last week’s snow melting, our reservoirs are full, and I suspect even in drier parts of the country they won’t be far from full.

But take a look at that photo again:


Water levels in rivers, reservoirs and groundwater levels were abnormally low in February

Is it representative of water storage in England?

Well, for a start, look at those trees. How many tress have full foliage at this time of year?

And thanks to Tin Eye, we can locate the original image, which identifies it as Leighton Reservoir in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire:


Leighton Reservoir in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire, UK, with very low water levels following a prolonged heatwave and no rainfall

Leighton Reservoir in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire, UK, with very low water levels following a prolonged heatwave and no rainfall

Now that’s funny, I don’t recall any heatwaves lately!

But thanks to Alamy, we know that the photo was actually taken in September 2021:


Even by BBC standards, this is grossly deceitful.

67 Comments leave one →
  1. gezza1298 permalink
    March 18, 2023 11:16 am

    I wonder with the St Gary of Crisps saga if not only will MOTD viewer numbers drop in 2 weeks time when the normal programme resumes but licence payers will also drop. I would join in but I cancelled after the Ross-Brands Sachs scandal. And set up a vpn and get better highlights from NBC sports.

  2. gezza1298 permalink
    March 18, 2023 11:18 am

    On the subject of ground conditions, even though there were long dry spells in February our football pitch is still soggy such that the ball splats on the ground in certain areas and the touchlines still squelch. The rain we had overnight on Thursday has topped up the lakes still in the fields so no water shortage in my corner of Surrey.

    • MooseInHoose permalink
      March 18, 2023 12:59 pm

      In Liverpool , Preston or other coastal areas I suspect the low rainfall may have been just an odd spell , not seen for 30 odd years. Our ground was quite dry and we’re only 10 miles inland but local microclimates must be involved somewhere.

  3. March 18, 2023 11:26 am

    I concur about water levels if the water table under my properly laid, aggregate foundation lawn is anything to go by. February Fill Dyke may not have happened but “March Melt” ( I confess, I made that up) certainly has.

    “With last week’s snow melting, our reservoirs are full, and I suspect even in drier parts of the country they won’t be far from full.” May I suggest that a table to show current net storage levels would be very insightful, as well as aquifer levels, and perhaps river levels too ( with any pertinent details of extraction rates..) – all of this, bar the latter, I scoped in 2 minutes flat from alll water companies and even they cannot hide the scale of the “truth” stated with Anglia being the exception for very obvious reasons; then perhaps fire off the data cited tp the BBC Complaints for another chance for their Complaints/ECU to expose their corrupt agenda – tempted to say even they cannot deflect what the water companies show…but then again…

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      March 18, 2023 1:28 pm

      For Derby the driest month is February, 1.4mm per day average. Wettest June and October at about 2mm per day.
      Round here I guess February Fill Dyke is a prayer.

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        March 19, 2023 9:13 am

        Perhaps but there’s far more evaporation in the summer than the winter.

  4. Douglas Dragonfly permalink
    March 18, 2023 11:47 am

    Surely the BBC will think of its reputation and publish a comprehensive correction to this obvious error ?
    Where is a BBC Climate Disinformation Reporter when you want one ?

  5. Derek T permalink
    March 18, 2023 11:56 am

    What a deceitful photo from the BBC. I hope they will make a fulsome apology.

  6. Tonyb permalink
    March 18, 2023 12:01 pm

    We didn’t have that recent snow round here in Devon and Cornwall and most reservoirs remain very low. This is surprising as surely winters were supposed to get much warmer and wetter?

    • March 18, 2023 3:43 pm

      There has been plenty of precipitation in my part of Devon. Admittedly the river by my garden was low at the end of February, but there have been periods when it has been a raging torrent. SW Water obviously don’t harvest the water properly.

      • Tonyb permalink
        March 18, 2023 5:12 pm

        February was undoubtedly very dry when we needed a lot of steady and persistent rain.

  7. Will permalink
    March 18, 2023 12:03 pm

    The BBC photo was obviously taken in summer, not February, just look at the green trees! Typical BBC misrepresentation!

  8. eromgiw permalink
    March 18, 2023 12:05 pm

    Monty Don on Gardeners’ World last night was banging on about increasingly extreme weather. No doubt it’s written into his contract with the BBC…

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      March 18, 2023 2:18 pm

      What was so amusing was that all the plants that had died/suffered had succumbed to normal British weather because they’d planted stuff suited to the warmer drier weather he told us climate change would bring. But oblivious, he convinced himself the normal battlefield fluctuations of British weather were increasing extremes from climate change.

  9. March 18, 2023 12:09 pm

    I am in Wales not England but only 10ds from the border. I have two rain gauges. We have had a lot of rain this year and to pick a dry spell in February and claim drought is lies.

  10. Gamecock permalink
    March 18, 2023 12:45 pm

    ‘Drought risk to England regions after dry February, scientists warn’

    BBC: Scaring the children for 50 years.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      March 19, 2023 9:15 am


      A subtle lie but a lie nevertheless. You don’t need a scientist to tell you that without rain you get a drought and no scientist can tell us if its going to rain a lot or a little over the next6 months.

  11. MooseInHoose permalink
    March 18, 2023 12:50 pm

    Well as a local , I can confirm that although February was bone dry in the north , it was not THE driest. March has been a little wetter than usual plus the gardens and plants currently indicate we are very much in for a wet summer this year so BBC fail again?

  12. Ben Vorlich permalink
    March 18, 2023 1:23 pm

    I’ve been to a project with my grandson who’s nine. One things we’ve done is to make a rain gauge. So far this month Derby, or our part of it, has had around 45mm of rain. That’s about average for the whole of March.

  13. It doesn't add up... permalink
    March 18, 2023 1:34 pm

    Severn Trent reservoirs were 92.3% full on 13th March.

    Yorkshire Water is even higher at 92.7%, with all rivers above critical levels.

    In both cases resources have recovered well from the low levels last summer. Weather forecasts are suggesting heavy rain in the next few days, so doubtless the stories will switch 180 degrees to talk about climate change induced flooding. The programme is to amplify and switch the story, designed to confuse those not paying attention to the real world.

  14. MrGrimNasty permalink
    March 18, 2023 2:08 pm

    Ground is saturated where I am on S coast, have had lakes on grassland and flooded margins to farm fields for several months, it really is very unusually wet in my area, bizarrely looking at their rain anomaly map I’m in an a very localised very wet strip amidst mostly average rainfall. I’ll have to take their word for it being dry elsewhere.

    • Tonyb permalink
      March 18, 2023 2:36 pm

      As can be seen our Devon reservoirs show a mixed picture with some being only around half full and total storage well below that expected but it has risen sharply in recent days. Much more rain is needed though.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        March 18, 2023 3:12 pm

        I note that Yorkshire Water reveal that at some reservoirs water levels have been controlled to allow work on spillways and dams. Perhaps they are also taking advantage in Devon. I recall last year there was work at the Elan Valley reservoirs that kept water levels down.

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      March 18, 2023 9:16 pm

      I am on the North Downs in Kent. We have a very intermittent stream (The Nailbourne) that very occasionally flows through the village. It has been in medium flow this year… much for drought!

  15. Nigel Sherratt permalink
    March 18, 2023 2:37 pm

    Water level within normal range and above average at Little Bucket Farm up on the Downs at Petham. Reservoirs full or very nearly full.

  16. Harry Passfield permalink
    March 18, 2023 3:06 pm

    “But thanks to Alamy, we know that the photo was actually taken in September 2021”
    That being the case isn’t there grounds for a complaint to Ofcom?

  17. Mick permalink
    March 18, 2023 3:32 pm

    Well hmm. I live in Colorado on the Eastern plains where being on the verge of drought is an actual reality. I also watch the footie from England especially my beloved Posh (who won 3-0 at Lincoln, god bless their cotton socks) and I would have thought from the different games I have watched England would be inundated with water. Watching Crystal Palace play the other day and it was chucking it down – I am watching Wolves v Leeds and it’s belting down. Posh at Lincoln ended with a downpour.

    The BBC is full of it as usual.

    And a hello from very blue, clear skies sunny Colorado.

  18. Joe Public permalink
    March 18, 2023 3:52 pm

    From the Beeb story:

    “In East Anglia, just 2.4mm rain fell on Andrew Blenkiron’s farm compared to the usual amount of around 50mm for February.
    Low river levels meant he had little water to fill his reservoir. He has now been forced to cut back on plans to plant potatoes, onions, parsnips and carrots by around a fifth.”

    Andrew Blenkiron is Estate Director of the Euston Estate, IP24 2QP

    The *.gov website “Find river, sea, groundwater and rainfall levels” is useful.

    Today it reports five locations in the vicinity of the Euston Estate. Four are categorised as ‘Normal’ and one is ‘High’.

    • Joe Public permalink
      March 18, 2023 4:17 pm

      The Eastern Daily Press on 15th April 2015 proudly reported:

      “Reservoir investment brings long-term water security to Euston Estate”

      A rag that rarely misses an opportunity to lob climate scaremongering into its stories, the article informs:

      “With future climate change predicted to bring more potentially-damaging dry summers but wetter winters …..


    • Phoenix44 permalink
      March 19, 2023 9:19 am

      “Compared to the usual amount…”

      The average is not the usual amount. In England, the average is rarely what we get as we have high variability around the mean. Either the BBC are stupid or they deliberately lie.

      • Ben Vorlich permalink
        March 19, 2023 11:01 pm

        Of those two options the latter is almost certainly the case

  19. M Fraser permalink
    March 18, 2023 3:56 pm

    Here in N Wales its anything but dry, Dec, Jan soaking. And today, yep raining!

  20. ancientpopeye permalink
    March 18, 2023 3:56 pm

    Woe is me, triple woe, where would we be without these doom mongers trying to justify their existence? Throughout my quite long life, generally speaking I’ve found that mother nature has an uncanny way of evening things out, but then they have to let the money men know of them and to keep their salaries coming?

  21. M Fraser permalink
    March 18, 2023 3:58 pm

    One might add to that caption ‘trees were abnormally green for February’!

  22. Barry permalink
    March 18, 2023 4:13 pm

    River sow higher than normal, reservoirs full, we had loads of rain, the scientists wrong again.

  23. Gamecock permalink
    March 18, 2023 4:39 pm

    ‘Scientific analysis of the drought in Northern Europe in 2022 suggested that climate change made those dry conditions more likely.’

    ‘More likely’ is not a force. It’s meaningless.

    Alleged ‘scientific analysis’ courtesy of, paid shills who blame EVERYTHING on ‘climate change’ . . . it’s what they do for a living.

    A joke of an article. BBC trying to make news out of the weather report.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      March 19, 2023 9:20 am

      A thing that definitely happened can’t be more likely to happen. It was 100% likely to happen, hence its happening!

  24. DaveR permalink
    March 18, 2023 4:41 pm

    Isn’t it the case that far too few reservoirs (-none-) have been built since 1980? Surely if there’s one thing the UK has in abundance, it’s water? Is there anyone with the political animous capable of addressing ‘water’?

    • Tonyb permalink
      March 18, 2023 5:14 pm

      These millions of extra people that have come here since 1980 obviously don’t need water.

  25. glen permalink
    March 18, 2023 5:23 pm

    The science is settled; I tell ya

  26. March 18, 2023 5:57 pm

    Water bosses claim demand has gone down. Loss of some industries?

  27. Micky R permalink
    March 18, 2023 6:06 pm

    The UK is a wet island on the edge of the Atlantic.

    ” last major public water supply reservoir to be constructed in the UK for water supply purposes was Carsington in 1991 ”


    There’s nowhere in the UK which should suffer drought at any time.

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      March 19, 2023 11:06 pm

      Carsington is a pumped storage, mainly from the River Derwent which has to fill Ladybower, Derwent and the one I can’t remembers name first. So not exactly a traditional reservoir.

  28. Cheshire Red permalink
    March 18, 2023 6:15 pm

    ‘Drought’ in February 2023
    Picture from September 2021.
    BBC from another planet.

  29. Mack permalink
    March 18, 2023 7:12 pm

    Leighton Reservoir is just about full according to pictures posted recently by the local fly fishery. Next!

  30. Graeme No.3 permalink
    March 18, 2023 8:16 pm

    What you need is Tim Flannery, the Australian “Climate Change” legend.
    2004 “There is a fair chance Perth will be the 21st century’s first ghost metropolis.” (Due to water shortage).
    2005 predicted Sydney’s dams could be dry in as little as two years, leaving the city “facing extreme difficulties.”
    2007 he claimed: ““global warming was so baking our Earth that even the rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and our river systems”. The dams promptly filled. Brisbane had a flood.
    In 2007, he claimed: “In Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane, water supplies are so low they need desalinated water urgently, possibly in as little as 18 months.”
    In 2008, he said: “Adelaide may run out of water by early 2009 and have to be abandoned.”
    In 2009, Flannery warned “this may be the Arctic’s first ice-free year.”
    2015 Professor Tim Flannery told ABC NewsRadio that the number of severe cyclones is predicted to increase as the warming affects the ocean surface. “Sadly we’re more likely to see them more frequently in the future.” But over the very next year something astonishing happened. We actually got not one strong cyclone in Australia for first time in many decades:

  31. Ray Sanders permalink
    March 18, 2023 9:42 pm

    “By Georgina Rannard” Ah that “expert” in hydrology who has a MA in Modern History and a PhD in History.
    So clearly she is an effing LIAR. How can anyone claim to be an expert in “History” and have precisely zero knowledge of historical records? Sure she might not understand climate science but surely she has no defence about not being able to examine historical records.
    Another BBC LIAR. This crapoganda has to stop.

  32. Gamecock permalink
    March 18, 2023 11:54 pm

    BWTM: Leighton Reservoir is low in the 2021 photo.


    You, and all BBC readers, ASSUME it’s because of drought. Why would BBC post it in a news story on drought if it weren’t caused by drought?

    Because they are lying POS. The lake is low due to intentional drawdown, for all we know. They could have drawn it down to fight vegetation. It sure looks like furrow lines on the banks, as if they plowed them!

    Don’t partly trust them. Don’t trust them at all. They label the photo as February this year. So why trust anything about it?

  33. Nicholas Lewis permalink
    March 19, 2023 12:01 am

    East Surrey our water company has reservoir full and the aquifer above five year average despite us having a fairly dry February but had plenty of rain in March.

  34. Martin Brumby permalink
    March 19, 2023 6:09 am

    If HMG is even slightly interested in water resources at present (which I very much doubt), then they obviously need to:-

    A. Make the foreign companies that control our water reduce leakage.

    B. Build more reservoirs.

    C. Stop the perpetual increase in UK population.

    I suggest that not one of these obvious prescriptions will even be considered by anyone in Westminster. “Let them drink Champagne!”

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      March 19, 2023 9:30 am

      I’m unsure why ownership is important? If they spend money reducing leaks, we pay for that, foreign owned or not.

      • March 19, 2023 11:50 am

        Weaker motivation to invest, weaker control by those we are theoretically able to vote out of office.

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        March 19, 2023 12:01 pm

        No, water is charged via a Regulated Asset Base. Any money that adds to the RAB attracts the set return. Since privatisation, there’s been over £120 billion invested by water companies.

      • March 19, 2023 12:26 pm

        £120 million in how long? Should I be impressed?
        Not spent on building Reservoirs, nor (largely) in mending leaks, anyway.

        Admittedly, applications for water storage have (at significant cost) been submitted but rejected by politicians much more concerned to avoid telling NIMBYs a few home truths than to worry about the real issue of huge increases in London dwellers, where water storage is now quite obviously inadequate.

  35. Stonyground permalink
    March 19, 2023 8:35 am

    Do we have anyone local to Leighton Reservoir who could post a photograph of what it actually does look like right now? That would give us a very sound reason for a complaint to be sent to the BBC.

    In East Yorkshire I would say that the winter has been slightly drier than normal. The bottom of our garden normally floods slightly during the winter, this year it is a little soggy down there although it’s certainly not dry.

  36. Stonyground permalink
    March 19, 2023 8:44 am

    There are some recent pictures here that are quite relevant.

    Nidderdale AONB
    01423 712950

  37. Phoenix44 permalink
    March 19, 2023 9:12 am

    “Unseasonably” = above average.

    Which happens around 50% of the time.

    Imbeciles who don’t understand what they are writing about.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      March 19, 2023 9:31 am

      I’m unsure why ownership is important? If they spend money reducing leaks, we pay for that, foreign owned or not.

  38. Kelland Hutchence permalink
    March 19, 2023 2:23 pm

    No doubt the BBC will shortly be publishing photos of the Arabian desert purporting to be Yorkshire suffering from a lengthy drought. But never mind, anything that perpetuates the climate myth can’t be a BAD thing, can it?

    As one of the founders of Greenpeace once said, ‘It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, what matters is what the public believes.’

    One wonders when, if ever, the government is going to react to the constant flow of lies from this very shady organisation.

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      March 19, 2023 4:07 pm

      My local water company (Affinity Water formerly Folkestone and Dover Water Company) recently sent out a brochure with an image of a Camel on the front captioned that it is wetter in parts of Saudi Arabia than South East Kent. Shit (presumably Camel) for brains or what!

  39. liardetg permalink
    March 19, 2023 5:20 pm

    Two days ago the widely watched Tucker Carlson Tonight on the hated (by the Left) Fox News ran a devastating history of alarmist lies, misinformation and failed scaremongering. It was quite funny in parts – Pres Obama promised to save the planet! Story went back to the 1960s and covered most of the issues we deal with here. Ended by saying not even the alarmists believe what they say SO WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? Deeply sinister.

  40. Mark Hodgson permalink
    March 19, 2023 7:30 pm

    By Cumbrian standards, we have had a dry winter. The weather in February was cold but bright and dry almost all month long, and the river levels here a few weeks ago were low by winter standards.

    Since then we’ve had a lot of rain, and river levels have risen substantially. Looking at the forecast for the next fortnight, it’s wet, wet, wet.

  41. Philip permalink
    March 20, 2023 12:00 pm

    The photo shows deciduous trees in full leaf. The comment infers February, what a slight of hand! I wonder what the location would show in mid-March this year?

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