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Britain 'in drought conditions' amid European heatwave

by Staff Writers
London (AFP) May 12, 2011
Parts of southern Britain are suffering from drought conditions following the warmest April on record amid a heatwave sweeping across northern Europe, researchers said on Thursday.

England and Wales received the lowest March and April rainfall since 1938 with some regions getting the lowest rain in records dating back more than 100 years, according to the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH).

Water flows in some rivers, including the Exe in southwest England and the Ribble in northern England, were similar to those experienced in a drought in 1976, considered the most severe ever across much of Britain, said the CEH.

The dry conditions had "resulted in agricultural and hydrological drought conditions affecting large parts of southern Britain", said the CEH.

"The primary impacts are on farmers and growers, an increased risk of forest and heath fires and, importantly, on river flows."

The dry weather sparked rare wildfires in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland at the start of the month.

The Met Office national weather service has said last month was the warmest April on record in Britain, with an average temperature of 10.7 degrees Celsius (51.3 degrees Fahrenheit).

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