Flash flooding and hailstorms

100 cars in flood water today, and 30 claims for hail damage in less than an hour

28 June 2012

The flash flooding and hailstorms across the Midlands today has caught out a lot of people

The flash flooding and hailstorms across the Midlands today has caught out a lot of people

The AA alone attended around 100 cars driven through or stuck in flood water in the West Midlands by 14:00 on Thursday (28 June) and deployed its team of water rescue Land Rovers, AA Special Operations Response Team.

Darron Burness, the AA’s Head of Special Operations, says: “The flash flooding and hailstorms across the Midlands today has caught out a lot of people. The tragic case of a man swept away in Shropshire illustrates the dangers as it only takes as little as six inches of fast flowing water to knock you off your feet.”

With torrential downpours forecast for many other areas, the AA is advising drivers to keep their speed down, be watchful for standing water and not risk driving through flood water.

Darron Burness continues: “It’s often impossible to gauge the depth of flood water, so don’t even chance it. Not only do you risk wrecking your engine but there are often hidden dangers like dislodged manhole covers and other debris. Also, it takes only two feet of water to float a car.”

Update, 29 June 2012, 12:00 noon

  • AA has attended more than 450 cars driven through or stuck in flood water since yesterday morning – majority in Tyneside
  • Yesterday AA Insurance received 123 motor insurance claims for hail, flood and storm damage including 115 hail damage cases in Leicestershire.
  • AA AutoWindshields attended an additional 20 vehicles with glass damage.
  • Many of those cars expected to be declared write-offs after suffering significant bodywork damage
  • AA Special Operations Land Rovers worked through the night in Newcastle
  • The AA has had a busy morning dealing with the aftermath of yesterday’s freak weather.

So far today (as at 12:00), the AA has received 97 flood water-related call-outs, mostly in Tyneside, and AA Insurance has received 55 motor insurance claims for flood and hailstone damage, representing more than half of all claims received so far today.

In total yesterday, the AA attended 358 cars driven through or stuck in flood water, the majority of them after 16:30 in Tyneside causing havoc on the evening commute.

Darron Burness, the AA’s Head of Special Operations, says: “Yesterday’s weather was crazy and, unfortunately, the severity of the flooding wasn’t forecast. Although the flood water has now receded, drivers should continue to look out for debris and silt on the road, as well as abandoned vehicles which may present a hazard.”

If your car is comprehensively insured, damage of this sort is covered by your policy, while damage to property should also be covered by buildings insurance

Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance

Hail wrecks cars in Leicestershire

Over the space of half an hour at lunchtime on Thursday (28 June), AA Insurance received 29 claims for cars damaged by freak hail in and around Leicester.

Customers reported that hail stones the ‘size of golf balls’ battered their cars. One said his car was ‘covered in dimples’, another reported that his car had been ‘wrecked’ by ‘giant lumps of ice falling from the sky’ and all said that their cars were extensively damaged.

Often, damage of this sort results in the car having to be written off although such damaging hail is thankfully rare in the UK.

The severe weather locally also produced a tornado and torrential rain, causing damage and flooding to homes after drains and waterways were blocked by massive hailstones.

“If your car is comprehensively insured, damage of this sort is covered by your policy, while damage to property should also be covered by buildings insurance,” says Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance.

“We are seeing some freak weather conditions this year with floods, tornaodes and now hail.

“Hail can be particularly damaging and we are expecting dozens more claims today as customers return to their parked cars and find them ruined.  Other insurers will be seeing a similar spike in claims.”

Flooding facts

  • 1cm of water falling over 1km square = 10,000,000 litres of water all travelling towards the lowest point
  • A cubic metre of water weighs a tonne
  • If the speed of flood water doubles the force the water then exerts on you/your car is quadrupled
  • Six inches of fast flowing water can knock you off your feet
  • Two feet of static water will float your car.  it will take less if the water is moving
  • Don’t walk or drive through flood water there may be hidden dangers like open manhole covers and sections of road or pavement swept away
  • The engine’s air intake on many cars is low down at the front of the car and it can take just an egg cupful of water in the combustion chamber to wreck an engine. Water doesn’t compress and the piston in effect hits a wall, bending or breaking a con rod
  • Urban flood water will have 20-30 diseases in it, so stay out of it
  • Parents should take special care to ensure children do not play in or near flood water
  • If you do come into contact with it, wash your hands well and if you become unwell within the next 14 days see a doctor immediately and tell them you have been in contact with flood water.

(29 June 2012)