It has been the wettest winter since records began almost 250 years ago, according to the Met Office.

The Met Office said that south east and central southern England, some parts of which were badly affected by the flooding, received almost two-and-a-half times their average rainfall.

Meanwhile the south west and south Wales received double the average.

A spokesman said it has been the wettest winter on record across England and Wales - where the precipitation records date back to 1766. Some 435mm (17.1 inches) of rain fell from December 1 to February 24, beating the previous highest total of 423mm (16.6 inches) set in 1915.

And the provisional rainfall figures show that the UK has had its wettest winter since records began in 1910. So me 517.6mm (20.3 inches) of rain fell this winter, the previous highest total was 485.1mm (19.1 inches), set in 1995.

The UK is also on target for the fifth warmest winter since records began in 1910. The average mean temperature so far is 5.2C (41F), making it the warmest since 2007 which was 5.6C (42F). The south has seen 12% more sunshine than average, while Scotland only saw 78% of the average.

"The main reason for the mild and wet winter weather is that we have seen a predominance of west and south-west winds, bringing in mild air from the Atlantic - as well as the unsettled and at times stormy conditions," a spokesman said.