December was a record-breaking month; not only was it the wettest calendar month on record, but it was also unusually warm, with temperatures 4.1°C above the long term average.
The uncharacteristic weather impacted on the UK’s pool and spa sector – with many companies reporting a busier than average spell in the lead up to Christmas.
“We had a new pool installation pre-booked for December, which was somewhat scuppered by the rain – it was just so wet!” comments Shelley Wilcox of Gloucestershire-based Rio Pools.
“We received a surprising amount of pool enquiries in December, which is unusual for the time of year, but the milder conditions also reduced the amount of spa and hot tub enquiries that we might normally expect at that time.”
Graham Hounslow of Aqueous Pools in Hampshire adds: “We found that customers were without doubt keeping their pools open for the longer due to the milder weather, therefore not only enhancing chemical sales but also extending our maintenance contracts. This year we re-opened more pools than ever before for the festive period.” The warm temperatures were counteracted by heavy rain and high winds,
brought on by Storm Desmond battered the UK at the end of last year, damaging thousands of properties in England Statistics collected by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) show more than 3,000 families are now in alternative accommodation while repairs are made to their homes, and insurance payouts are likely to top £1.3 billion nationally.
Sadly some of the country’s residential pools didn’t escape the flooding either, with a number of pool companies, particularly in the North, reporting a higher than average number of call-outs to fix flooded pools.
One such company is Preston-based SSL Pools, which has been called out to attend various flooded-pool situations since the beginning of December.
“The main issue we have experienced is pools over-filling, due to high water levels in the area,” explains Andrea Jackson of SSL Pools, in Preston.
“The majority of pools are closed down for the winter, which means that the pool owners are unable to remove the excess water themselves. Our engineers take the necessary equipment with them and it’s simply a case of pumping the water out.” She adds: “We’ve attended around five call-outs so far this winter, all of which were outdoor pools – luckily we haven’t seen any flooded indoor pools so far.” The good news is that forecasters expect 2016 to be one of the warmest years on record, with temperatures set to be well above average for the next 12 months.
The new forecast from the Met Office, a combination of computer models and statistical methods, says that the global average temperature for the next 12 months is likely to be 0.84C above the 1961-1990 average.