This paper investigates winter (DJF) precipitation variability over East Anglia at the daily and 2 d timescales using rain gauge data from 134 sites. The first three principal components (PCs) explain 80.2% (82.0%) of the variance in daily (2 d totals). Precipitation displays higher spatial coherence in winter, with the first three PCs of summer daily totals (Neal and Phillips, 2009, International Journal of Climatology 29: 1661–1679) explaining only 72.3% of the variance. The winter PCs for both 24- and 48-h timescales display precipitation maxima in South Essex (PC 1), NE Norfolk (PC 2), and NW Cambridgeshire (PC 3). The rainfall maximum over South Essex is more important in winter than in summer. Lamb Weather Types and synoptic charts are used to explain the causes of the PCs. A precipitation regionalization is also produced. Discharge for 11 rivers is then modelled as a linear function of the rainfall patterns (as represented by the PC scores). With the exception of the River Babingley, whose discharge is not significantly related to the PCs, these models explain on average 26.5% of the variance. For most rivers, there are significant relationships between discharge and precipitation that fell up to 4 d ago on average. In general, East Anglian river flows show persistence over 6–8 d.