Storm with 106-mph gusts hits flooded Britain

A local resident pushes belongings on a cart through the flooded part of the town of Staines-upon-Thames, England, as a police van patrols the area on Wednesday. Prime Minister David Cameron insisted Tuesday that money is no object in the battle against the widespread flooding that has engulfed parts of England.

A local resident pushes belongings on a cart through the flooded part of the town of Staines-upon-Thames, England, as a police van patrols the area on Wednesday. Prime Minister David Cameron insisted Tuesday that money is no object in the battle against the widespread flooding that has engulfed parts of England. Photo by The Associated Press.

LONDON (AP) — 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 that global warming directly caused the extreme conditions.

The latest round of bad weather slammed into Britain’s west coast on Wednesday with torrential rain and winds gusting up to 106 mph. Trucks were toppled, trees were felled and a major chunk of the railway was closed.

The website of rail operator Virgin Trains greeted visitors with the words: “Do Not Travel.”

England, which has been lashed by wind and rain since December, had its wettest January since records began in 1766.

The 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 after the Thames burst its banks.

Britain’s Met Office, the nation’s weather agency, 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.”

It was the latest in a series of assertions by weather agencies linking extreme weather events with human-made global warming. Last year the Met Office and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said events ranging from Superstorm Sandy flooding to U.S. heat waves to extreme rainfall in Australia and New Zealand had all been made more likely by climate change.

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