The Government today told people an effective way to prevent their homes and businesses from being flooded when rain sweeps Britain next week is to build millions of – snowmen.
The bizarre advice comes as weather experts predict a sudden thaw causing torrential rain and melting snow when temperatures swing from -13C to 13C over the weekend.
Yesterday the Environment Agency said Brits could help slow the rate of the sudden thaw by building snowmen in their gardens and on driveways.
Spokesman Roy Stokes said the compacted snow and ice in snowman will melt more slowly than snow on the ground meaning there is less surface water come the time of a thaw.
He said: “Ideally if everybody built themselves a snowman that will slow the thaw down a bit.
“If you notice when people clear their drive the snow thaws away but the compacted piles stay which will give a balanced thaw, which would be helpful.
“We would rather it be a gradual thaw than a really quick one.
“If it does go to quick we are likely to see a few flood alerts.
“If you are at risk of flooding make sure you have got all of your planning in place.”
Dr Simon Keeling, forecaster at weatherweb.co.uk, warned that localised flooding was likely to follow the thaw.
He said: “There is going to be a big swing in temperatures, from as low as -13 on Friday night to +13 on Tuesday.
“It will be really noticeable, and as the majority of England, Scotland and Wales is under a layer of snow there will be a lot of standing water around.
“We will see a lot of standing water around so there is likely to be localised flooding and driving conditions will not be good.
“We are going to see a rise in temperatures next week followed by a cooling period again, but nothing like the freeze we have seen lately.”
Roy Stokes is the Environment Agency’s Flood Risk Manager for the Midlands.
In 2001 he advised homeowners to protect their homes from flooding by wrapping their properties in plastic sheeting.
Speaking at the time, he said: “The flood skirt design is the Rolls-Royce of flood defences but the principle is the same as the wrapping technique.
“A degree of protection can be acquired for the price of a £50 sheet of polythene.”
He lists himself as a ‘Flood Defence Engineer’ on various official websites and has spoken at Environment Agency conferences on flooding and coastal defence.
In 2009 in wrote a column for the Nottingham Post newspaper about local flooding.