England and Wales just suffered their wettest winter in nearly 250 years

Record rainfall may cost billions in damage

Published February 27, 2014 8:57PM (EST)

England and Wales just made it through one hell of a winter.

According to data released Thursday by the Met Office, the government forecaster, it brought more rain than has ever been seen in 248 years of record keeping: with four days of winter to go, they've measured 435 millimeters (17 inches) of downpour, officially making it the U.K.'s wettest winter since 1766. The old record, of 423 millimeters, had been set in 1915. 

Along with that came rampant flooding, an estimated 1 billion pounds ($1.7 billion) in damage and seemingly endless debates over whether, and to what extent, climate change was responsible for the extreme weather.

In January, Prime Minister David Cameron caused controversy when he linked the rains to a changing climate (but not as much controversy as a local politician did by linking them to gay marriage). "Colleagues across the house can argue about whether that is linked to climate change or not," Cameron said. "I very much suspect that it is."

Ed Milliband, the leader of the Opposition, agreed: "The events of the last few weeks have shown this is a national security issue in our own country too with people's homes, businesses and livelihoods coming under attack from extreme weather," he said. "And we know this will happen more in the future."

By Lindsay Abrams

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Climate Change Extreme Weather Floods Rain