Storm with 100 mph gusts hits flooded Britain

Celia, last name not given, a local resident pushes her dog in a wheelbarrow, in the flooded part of the town of Staines-upon-Thames, England, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. Prime Minister DavidCameron insisted Tuesday that money is no object in the battle against the widespread flooding that has engulfed parts of England. Canceling a visit to the Middle East to oversee flood-fighting efforts, he told journalists that "whatever money is needed for this relief effort will be spent" as Britain deals with some of its wettest weather in 250 years. 
AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis

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 Wednesday with winds gusting at more than 100 miles an hour.


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.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to do whatever it takes to deal with the worst winter rainfall Britain has seen in nearly three centuries. On Tuesday, the military was sent in to help shore up levees.

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

It said a gust of 106 mph was recorded at Aberdaron in northwestern Wales.

The Met Office said gusts could cause widespread structural damage and loss of power. Railway operator Network Rail said the main west coast train line would close for about two hours Wednesday evening because of the wind.