Environment Agency says it will review river data after floods criticism

The Environment Agency has said it will review its data measuring river levels after concern from residents and Shropshire Council.

The county was hit by flooding again last week
The county was hit by flooding again last week

Storm Christoph led to significant flooding in several areas of Shrewsbury last Thursday evening, while villages upstream, such as Melverley and Pentre were also hit.

The authority said it would be requesting a review to ensure it can deliver more effective warnings to businesses and residents in future.

In response the Environment Agency said it would review its data, but reiterated its previous statement that people should take heed of flood warning messages, and not just river level figures.

A spokesman said: "The river level forecast are only part of the Environment Agency’s warning and informing service and should always be viewed alongside the latest flood warning messages for the local area.

"River models are inherently complicated linking millions of data lines together that respond dynamically with the weather conditions.

"There are times when these completed models produce forecasts that don’t represent what we would expect to see.

Anomalies

"Thankfully our experts are trained to identify these computer model anomalies, and alongside their local area knowledge produce the advice and information in the flood messages which represents what we expect to see.

"The Environment Agency have adopted an open data policy to flood and forecast information which has been well received and used by millions of customers.

"We manage over 10,000 computer models to provide the river forecasts for England and unfortunately there are times when they don’t perform as expected.

"There is a continual review and improvement programme of our computer models and we will review the location and model data after the incident."

In a statement Shropshire Council had said: "The responsibility for providing the Flood Warning Service and gauge information on the River Severn sits with the Environment Agency.

"Shropshire Council rely on the same flood warning and river gauge information to plan our operation response to flooding, and the inconsistent nature of the gauge data made planning for – and responding to – this event extremely difficult.

"Shropshire Council will be requesting that the Environment Agency undertake a review of the current system and then we will work with them to ensure warnings go out to communities more effectively in the future."

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