Nature, farming and the county's roads have all been impacted as East Anglia experienced its warmest and wettest February on record. 

The Met Office has recorded 106.4mm of rainfall fell last month, beating the previous record of 95.2mm set in 1961.

The mean average temperature was 8.2°C, higher than the previous 1990 record of 7.6°C.

England as a whole had the warmest February on record too.

A senior scientist at the Met Office Mike Kendon said: “The UK’s observations clearly show winters are getting warmer, and they are also getting wetter since as the atmosphere heats up, it has an increased capacity to hold moisture.

"The top-ten warmest winters on record for the UK include 2024, 2022, 2020, 2016 and 2014 and the top-ten wettest 2024, 2020, 2016 and 2014 – so very mild winters also show a tendency to be very wet.”

The impact of the wet weather has been seen across the East of England, with 773 Suffolk properties flooding internally as two months’ worth of rain fell in 24 hours during Storm Babet last year.

In addition, busy roads have had to close due to flooding and more than 27,000 children have missed school in the last year. 

In the last week, those using a stretch of the A14 have faced delays and diversions because of flooding. 

East Anglian Daily Times:

But what does this mean for people in Suffolk?

The National Trust is warning of a significant change in seasons

With unseasonably high temperatures throughout the winter, the natural seasons of plants has been disrupted.

Flowering trees and blossom have emerged four weeks earlier than usual, the National Trust has said.

And rapid climate change is being blamed.

Andy Jasper, director of gardens and parklands at the National Trust, said: "Some of the early flowering we're witnessing in our gardens is absolutely spectacular - and certainly brings welcome cheer - but these blooms are also a very visual sign of how our seasons are shifting, and the consequences of a rapidly changing climate, especially over the last decade."

2023 saw a dry start followed by prolonged periods of wet and mild weather, meaning that “trees and plants haven't really stopped growing or had a particularly long period of shutdown.”

Suffolk’s roads have suffered a huge increase in flooding, draining issues, and potholes

Suffolk Highways has seen an 82% increase in requests for action on the highway during the 2023/24 financial year, compared to the previous one.

In the last five months, the number of flooding issues has increased by 364% compared to the same period in 2022/23, with the A14 falling repeated victim to the weather.

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And wet weather has also caused a rise in potholes, though Suffolk Highways says it has carried out 34% more repairs to potholes in 2023/24 than the previous year.

Councillor Paul West, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for Ipswich, operational highways and flooding, said: “The extremes of weather we have witnessed across the county since October is like nothing we have experienced before. The rainfall has been heavy, relentless and unforgiving.

“Much like other local authorities up and down the country, this weather has presented us with some unprecedented challenges, especially when it comes to maintaining the highway network – despite this, Suffolk is rising to the challenge.

“It is clear from the statistics that highways teams are doing more than ever before, working harder and faster, resulting in more pothole repairs and more drainage issues resolved. Unfortunately, the demand outweighs the progress we are making so there continues to be much to do.

“I want to reassure Suffolk’s residents that we are doing everything we can to ensure the highway network is being maintained to a safe standard, however during this time I ask that residents take extra care when travelling and report any issues you spot to us. I also want to thank residents for their patience and understanding during this time.”

Farmers have suffered huge financial loss and devastation because of flooding

While 2022 was a drought year for farmers, 2023 and 2024 have seen record levels of rainfall, creating huge challenges for farmers.

East Anglian Daily Times: A tractor wades through the floods during Storm Babet

Glenn Buckingham, the National Farmers Union Suffolk Chair, said: “The impact undoubtedly is a disruption to the farming system. The fact that crops can be difficult to harvest and establish. Soils are wet and don’t work well. Nutrients are lost through excessive rainfall and yields are impacted.

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“Seeds can be effectively asphyxiated when it gets wet meaning more seeds are required to replant. With a later sow, there is less time for root systems to development and this can reduce yield.”

Of course, this stands in sharp contrast to 2022, when low rainfall required more irrigation for certain crops like potatoes and sugar beets.

Mr Buckingham continued: “We should have been adapting to understanding this scenario 20 to 30 years ago. We knew this was on the cards. We have had two perfect extremes – 2022 was a drought year and 2023 was very wet – that is the extremes of climate change we’ve been expecting for 30 years.

"Globally we’ve seen similar events in other countries so adaption and carbon emission reduction alongside carbon sequestration are vital transitional funding opportunities in farming.”

And he suggested that a fundamental shift in our food systems was needed to prepare better for the future.

“There will have to be a massive change to how our food system works in terms of cost, quality, and care for the environment. I would suggest in an ideal world, we will see more value put on food and quality food and it probably will be around a more localised food system where the trust is close to you. That will actually bring on better wellbeing and will deal with the carbon emissions issue. Diversity of land use is wrapped into it too.”

The President of the National Farmers Union Tom Bradshaw agreed: “Since the end of last year, we have seen hundreds of farms across the country face the devastation of flooding and the huge financial stress and misery that brings.

“Climate change is one of our biggest challenges, and if the Met Office data for this winter is the shape of things to come, then it’s inevitable that storms will become more frequent and heavy rainfall will become more prevalent.

“More than 50% of our best productive farmland is situated in low-lying areas and if we’re serious about our domestic food security and producing more here, then we have to maintain these river systems which have been neglected for decades.

“There needs to be political will to provide more funding to the Environment Agency, so it can deliver a proactive plan of management and re-investment in the watercourses and flood defences it is responsible for, to ensure British farmers and growers can continue producing climate-friendly food.”