Carlisle floods, Cumbria, 2005

Carlisle floods, Cumbria, 2005


  • Physical: (the main cause)
  • Heavy rainfall on the 6th January, it lasted 36 hours and during this time 200mm of rainfall fell, this was the equivalent of 4 months rain
  • The rain fell on saturated ground so it couldn't soak up the water, it was left to run down to the river very quickly, causing flash flooding with a very short lag time
  • Peak discharge was also very high, almost 10 times its normal measurement of 50 cumecs
  • Human: (made the flooding worse)
  • It is a built up area and the water did not soak into the concrete from the urban environments, therefore it ran quickly down to the river
  • The drains and sewer systems overflowed as they could not handle the amount of water, therefore they became a source of flooding themselves
  • 25% of flooding problems were caused by overflowing drains


  • Social:
  • 3 people died and 3000 were made homeless
  • Many people living in temporary accommodation and separated from family and friends in their area
  • Stress related illnesses
  • 4 schools were flooded therefore children did not receive a proper education until these were recovered
  • Economic:
  • Costs over £100 million
  • 350 businesses shut down, a disruption in trade.
  • Transport systems damaged, including roads
  • United Biscuits (largest employer in Carlisle) was flooded and 33 people lost their jobs due to cuts
  • Environmental
  • An increase in river bank erosion and therefore more potential for future floods
  • Rivers polluted with rubbish and sewage from the overflowing sewers

Overall summary

The river that was flooded was called the River Eden, it runs through North Cumbria and reaches the sea near Carlisle where it flooded. The drainage basin is very big so it catches a lot of water, causing a high river discharge. There are many tributaries so the lag time is short as more water reaches the River Eden quickly. 


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