London weather: Thames Barrier closes for first time this year as spring tides loom just after Storm Imogen brought heavy rainfall and wind to the south of England

 
Hayley Kirton
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Severe Flood Warnings In Place For The UK
Imogen and tides together could spell bad times for London (Source: Getty)

It's official: it's been raining in London.

The Environment Agency announced this morning that it has shut the Thames Barrier, a 520m moveable barrier in east London, for the first time this winter.

"We are closing the barrier to protect London from the threat of flooding due to the high level of rain last week combined with high tides from the sea," said Steve East, engineering manager at the Thames Barrier.

Earlier this week, Storm Imogen, the ninth storm to stop by the UK since named storms were introduced in November 2015, brought havoc to London.

Met Office UK storm names for 2015/16

Already had:

Abigail, Barney, Clodagh, Desmond, Eva, Frank, Gertrude, Henry, Imogen

Still to come:

Jake, Katie, Lawrence, Mary, Nigel, Orla, Phil, Rhonda, Steve, Tegan, Vernon, Wendy

At one point, part of the roof was blown off of London Bridge station, causing commuting chaos, while other parts of the country experienced gusts of wind up to 100mph.

Despite the dramatic pictures of Imogen, it was Storms Desmond, Eva and Frank, which battered the north of the country during December, that really brought attention to the damage that such weather can cause.

Last month, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) estimated that these three storms combined could cost the insurance industry an eye-watering £1.3bn as claims come tumbling in.

Even comparatively smaller Gertrude has made her presence felt. Aon yesterday estimated that damages caused by this storm, which hit parts of Europe last month, could exceed $100m (£69m) across the continent.

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