On 21 February 2014, the Met Office reported on the winter storms of December 2013 to January 2014. They advised that this was one of, if not the most, exceptional periods of winter rainfall in at least 248 years for England and Wales
The rainfall total for December and January was 372.2mm for the south-east and central southern England region, which was the wettest two-month period in their records from 1910.
The sustained period of wet weather is suspected to be the trigger for the recent spate of sinkholes and collapse subsidence features that have been reported in the south and south-east (see map).
The sequence of storms was attributed to a powerful jet stream driving a succession of low pressure systems across the Atlantic. The key problem was the rapid succession of events with further rain falling on already saturated ground that caused the significant flooding problems.