Is England’s Bad Weather A Sign Of Climate Change?

By Paul Homewood

Britain enduring the worst series of winter storms in more than 20 years, forecasters say, with 96 flood warnings issued throughout England and Wales

The December floods in England have been a big story recently, and, of course, still remain a problem. The term “extreme weather” has been bandied about, along with the inevitable connotation of “climate change”. ( I may be wrong, but years ago we rarely seemed to hear this term – it was usually just called “bad weather”, or simply referred to as “wet”, “stormy”, “cold” etc).

Nobody, of course, actually quantifies any of this, but the inference is made nevertheless. A good example came in the Telegraph, in an otherwise sensible article by William Langley:

Earlier this year, the Government agreed a deal with insurers that would nominally protect 500,000 households in areas deemed to be at such high risk their owners are unable to get cover. The £180 million raised each year — which would be managed by a not-for-profit fund known as Flood Re — ensures properties remain insurable through a £10.50-a-year levy on all residential premiums due to be introduced in 2015.

But critics say the scheme allows for no increase in the likely numbers of flood victims as weather patterns become increasingly severe and new homes are built in areas previously considered off limits because of flood risk.

So what exactly are the facts? How unusual has the recent rainfall been, and is there a trend to heavier rainfall?

December 2013 Rainfall 1981 - 2010 anomaly

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/summaries/anomacts

Scotland has certainly been very wet in December, but I want to concentrate on England, as this is where most of the media attention, and, it seems, damage has been.

First we’ll look at England as a whole, then concentrate on the South East, where the real problems have been.

England

image

Figure 1

Figure 1 shows December precipitation, using the Met Office data. For the country as a whole, last month was only the 20th wettest since 1910, certainly nothing out of the ordinary. The wettest month was in 1914, when 179mm fell, compared with 116mm this time. Bear in mind as well, that this is just one month of the year – there will be plenty of Januaries, Februaries and so on that were wetter.

Neither does there appear to be any evidence of wetter months becoming more common.

The flooding problems have been very much the result of a build up of water, rather than flash floods, with saturated ground and full rivers. So was December the culmination of months of wet weather. We can check this by going back to October. (November and September were both dry months, so we are taking the worst case scenario here).

image

Figure 2

For the three months as a whole, 2013 ranks as still only 14th wettest, again nothing remarkable, and 29% lower than the record total set in 1929.

Again, it must be borne in mind that there all sorts of other permutations of months, for instance November to January, that will give totals higher than this particular period.

South East

Now let’s focus on the South East. The Met Office keep regional data for “England South East & Central South”, which closely fits the area of heavy rainfall, on the map above.

image

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/summaries/datasets

Figures 3 and 4 show the precipitation for this region.

image

Figure 3

image

Figure 4

For December, 2013 ranks as 7th wettest on record, although it is notable that all the other wetter years were prior to 1959. For the three months total, the rank is 6th.

So, there is no indication, even in this part of the country, that rainfall last month, or since October, has been anything not experienced regularly in the past.

Winter Precipitation Trends

Is there any trend towards higher winter rainfall in England. To check this we have the benefit of the long term England & Wales Precipitation Series, held by the Met Office, which dates back to 1766.

There is clear evidence that winter precipitation was consistently lower in the first part of the record, up to about 1860. But since then, and certainly over the last century, the long term trend is pretty flat, with, if anything, a trend to less rain over the last decade or so.

image

Figure 5

The Met Office figures for England only, (a different dataset to the one above), show a similar picture.

imagehttp://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/summaries/actualmonthly

Figure 6

Final Thoughts

The wet weather has continued into January so far, and hopefully will abate soon. We will get a better picture when we can look at the full winter period.

Nevertheless, there is nothing in the data to provide the slightest bit of evidence that the floods have been the result of, or aggravated by, “climate change”. Nor is there any indication that such events are becoming more common, or more extreme.

Only today, Bishop Hill refers to two separate comments by Sirs John Beddington and David King, respectively current and former UK Govt Chief Scientists, both of which imply that recent events are examples of extreme weather, which is increasing because of “climate change”. Naturally, they offer not the slightest bit of evidence. This did not prevent the BBC and Guardian respectively from falling for it hook, line and sinker.

I will leave the last word to Mary Dhonau, of the Flood Protection Association, an industry body. In a another Telegraph article, she warns us that “flooding is being made worse by developers building on flood plains to cater for an expanding population. She says that more than 2,000 properties were approved on flood plains this year despite official objections, and added: “It is absolutely barking mad to build on a flood plain when there are so many other places that could be built on.”

 

Precisely!

References

1) Met Office regional data

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/summaries/datasets

2) England & Wales Precipitation series

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadukp/

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116 thoughts on “Is England’s Bad Weather A Sign Of Climate Change?

  1. The UK media including the BBC and Sky News always report extremes of weather as being caused by man made Global Warming. Trying to post any other opinion is impossible.

  2. Anytime I hear climate change as an explanation of anything, I feel compelled to point out the logical absurdity of it all. If everyone agrees that there has been no climate cange for te past 17 years, then exactly how can anyone with half a brain claim that certainconditions that showed up in the past couple of years can have anything to do with cimate change? There are supposedly limits on how stupid people can be. Now I’m beginning to doubt that.

  3. As well as continuing in building on “Flood Plains”, the very name gives a clue, there is also a great deal of criticism that the old routines for keeping rivers and streams clear of debris, silt and growth have not been adhered to, thus exacerbating the situation.

  4. First we’ll look at England as a whole, then concentrate on the South East, where the real problems have been.

    I thought the problems were worse in the South West; Dorset, Somerset and round here in Gloucestershire.

  5. Just heard the stupidest thing ever on The Weather Channel.

    The man who coined the term “weather whiplash” said rapid changes in temperature are caused by climate change and the people in Moscow were “upset” by the “warm” (0*C) temperatures and “longed” for the bitter chill we are experiencing.

  6. “Nobody, of course, actually quantifies any of this, but the inference implication is made nevertheless.”

  7. A friend of mine has been keeping weather records for about 60 years on the south side of Loch Tay in Perthshire. December was the wettest month he has ever measured – 15 inches of rain. It broke the record set in February 1975.

    I don’t think there is any trend over the last 60 years.

  8. Where I live near the River Vilaine in Brittany we have had extensive flooding this year, but it is managed flooding. The Rivers Ille and Aff collect the water around the high plateau at Rennes and it is let down into the Oust and Vilaine as they drain through the Arzal barrage. When there is too much the sluices are closed and the flood plains are inundated until the tide is lower and the barrage opens again. Looks like the whole Country is flooded sometimes. The key to keeping this system working so that few people get their houses flooded? Don’t build on the ruddy flood plains.

  9. Thats the fun of making your own rules.
    Yes CO2 makes the world warmer and human make it runaway warming we call that global warming.
    Ow wait its not getting warmer, oke yes CO2 cane make the world cooler lets call it climate change.

    So now CO2 cane make the world warmer and colder. Rain will fall more and longer. Storms will be less and more. Wild fires will be less and more. Ow and warm air will make more ice. Have tried that one whit a hairdryer but down t now what I did wrong but it was end working.

    Back to climate change, by changing the name they created an way to blame every thing on CO2 no sorry human admitted CO2. And yes most people believe that. Even so call d scientist believe that crap. Yes even scientist believe this non sens although t they know it against every law you cane think of.

    Now the truth is that they are wright. Oke yes they are not totally wright but lets be serious. We all now climate changes and we now it will be colder. They don’t now and they have 2 problems.
    1) they don’t now how warm or cold it is. Yes we don t no it as well because all the data adjustments.
    2) Because of 1 they only see outcomes witch are warm and they only believe the warmer scenarios. The nicest one yet is Turkey Turney. Piers Corbyn had on twitter an photo whit the text “you might be a true climate denier if you get your ship stuck in ice that you denied was there.

    Earth at this stage is not even close to what cane be consider t warm because that would be 16 degrees. We are at this point closer to 12 degrees or lower. Earth is not even close to being out of an ice age. Are we entering one or a rend we not even out of the lest one.

    By hiding behind climate change they only go further away from reality and get stuck in an sort of Hollywood creation.

  10. It’s simple. The record cold spell across much of North America is weather. The record rainfall in parts of Great Britain is climate change.

  11. A C Osborne has it correct. In the old days people were sensible and didn’t build their houses on flood plains. Also landowners kept the rivers in good condition and culverts were regularly cleared. Nowadays we have a dumbed-down populace, most of whom don’t know what a flood plain is and buy houses regardless of the likelihood of flooding. Our Green Governments are now fully in charge of keeping water courses clear and are more concerned about wildlife than about people. Getting permission to do any maintenance work in the countryside is a big regulatory problem and dumbed-down civil servants are in charge of the permitting agencies.

  12. I sat on the South West Flood Defence committee of the Environment Agency for 10 years.

    In England we have a number of related problems as regards flooding.

    Firstly, all the safest places for building on were probably already developed by 1900.

    Secondly; The EA had no legal influence at all in trying to prevent building on flood plains. By its nature its green, flat, and likely to be close to a town and a river and is therefore ‘desirable’ both in developers terms and for the financial inducements the local council will get.

    Thirdly. If the flood plain is built on the water has nowhere to go in order to be ‘stored.’.

    fourthly there is far more tarmac these days including that of front gardens for parking. the water immediately runs off into the nearest watercourse.

    Fifth; Watercourses are on the whole badly maintained with ditches frequently allowed to become overgrow. The EA positively do not want to dredge rivers because of possible harm to wildlife, especially the water vole. result, there is much less capacity in the rivers.

    last but not least there is small scale development going on all the time. If you move into a new house in ‘flood lane’ or Waters edge’ or you should not expect anyone else to bail you out.

    Extreme events concerning water are no worse than they have been over the last 50 years but there are many more people who now live in unsuitable places and who want to remain completely dry. Our ancestors often accepted that a bit of water might enter their homes at various times and brick floors and electricity points at waist height were commonplace.

    tonyb

  13. In a similar fashion here in the US, the polar vortex incursion into much of the country is being mentioned as possibly due to “climate change”, as reported on NPR, and I’m sure others.

  14. “Only today, Bishop Hill refers to two separate comments by Sirs John Beddington and David King, respectively current and former UK Govt Chief Scientists, both of which imply that recent events are examples of extreme weather, which is increasing because of “climate change”. Naturally, they offer not the slightest bit of evidence.”

    Because there is no evidence to offer. There is a very clear linkage between UK precipitation and the NAO and AO, they respond to immediate solar conditions and not to the average global temperature.

  15. It’s them greedy developers I tell you!!

    No it is not. Actually the phenomenon is being exacerbated by local planning authorities authorising development on any old bit of land they can get their hands on (and flood plain land is, naturally’ cheaper than other land) just so that they can make the developers pay the ‘development tax’ (I forget the technical name) or contribution towards the establishment and maintenance of local infrastructure that is now enshrined in UK planning law.

    Then they expect DEFRA to come along and pay for flood defences out of general taxation. Absolutely barmy system.

  16. As an engineer, & a former employee of Thames Water when in it was in public hands, I recall (& I have said this before) many “flood alleviation” schemes being carried out at public expense. These schemes were considered vital to protect housing & businesses. After privatisation, many schemes were dropped, because public funds were no longer available, & the UK Environment Agency became the left-overs whereas the newly privatised companies dealt with water supply & treatment! For over 20 years there has been a distinct lack of investment in public flood alleviations schemes, & works to sea defences. Catchment areas are poorly managed & inadequate funds put into place. The flooding we now see is the result. As Mr Homewood has adequately demonstrated, there has been no trend or increase. I also add that the UK rainfall charts are pretty flat for the last 100 years, there is indeed inter-year variability, but no real defined trend up or down, a subtle but rather poignant point the Met Office/Environment Agency/Greenalist NGOs seem to conveniently forget! AND yes we’re still building on wretched flood plains, the clue is indeed in the title. As I point out to aspiring housebuyers, do the research, the clue is in the name – peesdownregularly lane, or floodseveryfiveyears avenue!!!! There is always extreme weather somewhere in the world, but of course extreme is the norm to scare us all! The Wet Office is doing it’s usual tactic, plausible denyability, “no one weather event can be attributed to Climate Change, but yes this is the sort of event we expect to see more of !”

  17. Interesting that current rainfall is only the twentieth highest on recent records. Two other points to add for the reasons for the current floods in the UK. First, The Spring Tides around our coastal regions are the highest for twenty years, which has exacerbated the flooding in coastal areas. and secondly, I wonder when it will be understood by river and local authorities that flood protection upstream simply means greater floods downstream: the water has to spread somewhere after a deluge. This adds to the problems caused by housing developments on flood plains.

  18. I am always dismayed when I hear the two knights, John Beddington and David King commenting on the weather. Both appear to be committed to the IPCC agenda and swim with the warmist current. The flooding this year is nothing exceptional but has been aggravated by the fact that many rivers and dykes are no longer dredged for environmental reasons. There are areas in Somerset,Gloucestershire, the Severn valley, the Ouse in east Sussex, the Mole in Surrey and the Medway Valley in mid Kent that have always flooded in the wetter years. Many ancient Anglo-Saxon villages such as Yalding in mid-Kent where several rivers meet, were built on river banks because it was easier to put up with winter flooding for a few days than to dig a well or trek miles for water.Sadly our global warmists,led by the Guardian and BBC, have little interest in past events that do not suit their agenda.

  19. Philip Aggrey says at January 7, 2014 at 7:28 am…
    Not that barmy. It is effectively a way of building more housing stock on reclaimed land.
    Of course, it would seem neater to reclaim the land before building the houses but then the land may not be used for housing.
    And we do need more housing.

  20. climatereason says: January 7, 2014 at 7:19 am

    Well said. You covered everything I wanted to say, especially the lack of dredging.

  21. Paul,
    Glad this got on WUWT.
    Worst flooding locally I’ve seen but less than a decade of observations. Tim Channon over at TBs said he has seen worse. That’s the thing about living longer – you get a sense of perspective. I am thankful, though it took me time to remember when in my ‘alarmist phase’, the wise words of my older now departed relatives about weather cycles. They had really seen it all before and often much worse.
    I link to a rather good piece here by someone who has seen it before and a couple of tweets showing the waves of climate/weather ignorance

    https://craigm350.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/since-records-began/

  22. Anyone ever watch Time Team? Well usually at some point in the programme they show a computer generated image of what the land looked like at that particular time. Quite often what is now dry land used to be rivers lakes and marshland. for example Glastonbury Thor was an island.
    Seems that building on flood plains has been going on for a lot longer than we imagine.

  23. The middle part of the River Medway, specifically the section above Tonbridge, has always tended to flood because of the numerous tributaries that enter it in this area. In fact, the town itself has seen extensive flooding over the centuries, causing the part that lies higher than the rest of the town to be named Dryhill. There have been constant efforts to put flood protection measures in place, and this led to the construction of a flood barrier near Leigh in 1981. This barrier was built to protect Tonbridge from the flooding River Medway, since it was severely affected by major floods in 1968.

    http://rivermedway.com/

    Since 1982 the population of Tonbridge and Malling Borough has increase 24%

  24. The BBC is loving it, because they get to link it to climate change at every opportunity.

    Here in Britain, we have to pay for the BBC with a television licence. It’s £140 a year – which the BBC then blows on absurdity. Well, this year, for the first time in our lives, we are not going to pay it anymore. In just three weeks our yearly contract comes to an end, and we’ve decided not to pay a licence fee and, of course, not watch live TV. I’m going to remove the aerial cable in the attic so that we cannot even watch it by accident. We are switching over to catch-up TV through the net. It will be so nice knowing that we’re not contributing to the BBC’s left-wing propaganda on everything from the EU to climate change. Bliss.

  25. Ivor Ward says:

    January 7, 2014 at 7:00 am

    Bretagne has been under orange alert for nearly 14 days. I have some (friends, french of course) who live on the south coast of Morbihan. Although they say they have had lots of rain the flooding tends to occur in riverside towns. Quimperlé was under about a metre and half of water last week.

    Bretagne have been spending large sums of money in recent years to avoid flooding.

  26. Bad weather? I’ll give you bad weather. This is from my records (some scoured from the Met office) which seems to indicate the first lurch to the LIA, although conditions improved markedly towards the end of the century;

    (Seems a specially eventful year )
    1223 thunderstorms in June of unusual intensity
    Very wet year inundations of rain and over flowings of water continuing in every month of the year that greatly hindered the seasons and fruits very late in maturing so in November hardly any crops to lay up in the barns.
    1224 dry winter
    Unseasonable weather in Ireland corn could not be reaped until January 1225-not helped by war
    1225 bad harvest
    1227 floods in winter
    1228 inundations of rivers in Dec Jan and Feb –in Worcester- such that no one then living had ever seen the like in their time
    1229 severe winter ‘unusually bitter, waters so frozen horsemen could cross upon the ice, great snow afterwards earth covered for several days.’
    1231 March to October hardly any rain anywhere in England-great drought
    1233 wet summer from 23 March with great inundations of rain through the whole summer destroying warrens and washed away the ponds and mills throughout almost all England. Water formed into lakes in middle of the crops where the fishes of the rivers were seen to great astonishment and mills were standing in various places they had never before been seen.
    1233-1234 severe frost from Christmas 1233 to Feb 2 1234 destroying roots of trees to four foot down then rest of year very unseasonable
    1234 third unseasonable year
    Wet weather in autumn choked the seed and loosened it.
    1236 great floods in Jan, Feb and part of March that no one had seen the like before. Bridges submerged, fords impassable, mills and ponds overwhelmed and sown land meadows and marshes covered. Thames flooded palace of Westminster so small boat could be navigated in the midst of the forecourt. And folk went to their bed chambers on horseback
    Followed by dry summer with intolerable heat that all lasted four months. Deep pools and ponds were dried up and water mils useless.
    1237 great rains in February, fords and roads impassable for 8 successive days
    Turbulent year stormy and unsettled
    1238 great floods in many parts probably December
    Cloudy and rainy in beginning until spring had passed then the drought and heat were beyond measure and custom in two or more of the summer months. Great deluge of rain in the autumn that straw and grain became rotten and an unnatural autumn which is held to be a cold and dry season gave rise to various fatal diseases.
    1239 very wet weather continually from Jan to March, it has continued for four months without intermission.
    1240 dry Jan to March, wet from April to December but fruitful and abundant but wet and rainy autumn greatly choked the abundant crops.

    —– —–
    After reading thousands of weather observations spanning many centuries, inundations and epic flooding come over as the most common weather feature, closely followed by storms, heatwaves and drought.

    tonyb

  27. In reply to:
    “Is England’s Bad Weather A Sign Of Climate Change?”
    Yes, there are signs that the climate has changed. Com’on warmists you guys are trying to attribute any change in climate to CO2. Has anything else changed? Are there alternative mechanisms to explain the observed climate change? Have we ever observed similar climate? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. There was talk about drought in the UK in 2012. Why the sudden reversal? Why the sudden coldest winter temperatures in the US in 20 years? Why the sudden occurrence of this pattern of climate?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/drought/9205639/Britain-faces-worst-drought-since-1976.html

    The climate has changed due to the weakest solar magnetic cycle in 100 years. The solar heliosphere pressure is reduced by 40%. Due to the reduced pressure in the solar heliosphere the magnetic field intensity of solar wind burst has dropped by a factor of two. Solar wind burst remove (or at least did remove before the reduction in the solar heliosphere pressure) cloud forming ions in higher latitudes of the planet and in the equatorial regions by creating a space charge differential in the ionosphere. The process where solar wind bursts remove ions from the atmosphere is called electroscavenging.

    If you read through Tinsley and Yu’s review paper there is an explanation as to how an increase in ions in the atmosphere results in more extreme winter storms. There is also on explanation as to why there was the highest amount of cloud cover in the Arctic in the summer of 2012, which resulted in the greatest recovery in sea ice in recorded history. It’s the sun.
    “In a winter cyclone the primary driver of the dynamics is the baroclinic instability in the winter circulation, with the storm extracting vorticity from the latitudinal shear in the circulation, and converting it to the vorticity of the cyclone. The effective diabatic heating associated with precipitation and reduced cooling of entrained air amounts to an increase in potential vorticity and uplift in the air mass, and is likely to concentrate the vorticity near the cyclone center. In addition, by enhancing the feedback processes inherent in the baroclinic instability, it can increase the overall vorticity of the cyclone. It has been demonstrated analytically by van Delden [1989] and from numerical storm simulations by Zimmerman et al. [1989] and Mallet et al. (1999) that a positive feedback exists between the storm dynamical configuration and the diabatic processes. Thus precipitation changes explain the many reported examples of correlations of the vorticity area index (VAI) with GCR flux change and Jz reviewed by Tinsley [2000].”

    http://www.utdallas.edu/physics/pdf/Atmos_060302.pdf

    Why did the US have extremely cold winters and super winter storms in the 1970’s? Duh the sun. Why is the US suddenly experiencing the coldest winter temperatures in 20 year? Why are there no longer El Niño events? Why is there record sea ice in the Antarctic? Why is there record recovery of sea ice in the Arctic?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Ice_Age

    “Hubert Lamb said that in many years, “snowfall was much heavier than recorded before or since, and the snow lay on the ground for many months longer than it does today.”[24] Many springs and summers were cold and wet, but with great variability between years and groups of years. Crop practices throughout Europe had to be altered to adapt to the shortened, less reliable growing season, and there were many years of dearth and famine (such as the Great Famine of 1315–1317, although this may have been before the LIA proper).[25] According to Elizabeth Ewan and Janay Nugent, “Famines in France 1693–94, Norway 1695–96 and Sweden 1696–97 claimed roughly 10% of the population of each country. In Estonia and Finland in 1696–97, losses have been estimated at a fifth and a third of the national populations, respectively.”[26] Viticulture disappeared from some northern regions. Violent storms caused serious flooding and loss of life. Some of these resulted in permanent loss of large areas of land from the Danish, German and Dutch coasts.[24]”

  28. DavidCobb says:
    January 7, 2014 at 6:51 am
    rapid changes in temperature are caused by climate change
    At first, one is tempted to say that’s the tail waging the dog. But on second thought, as “climate” does not exist onto itself in the real world, (like “cold” and “dark”), it is another logical absurdity to say something nonexistent can increase or decrease the amount of energy (naturally transitory as it is) within a given space of the atmosphere. But then, as Col. Mosby indirectly wonders previously, are there no limits on how stupid people can be? Apparently, not on the Weather Channel. Maybe they should change the name to the “Climate (Change) Channel”?

  29. Don’t pick on the BBC only. They are objectivity personified compared with Channel 4 News last night. They included references to and clips from the film “2012” plus an interview with a spokesman for the Union of Concerned Scientists, IN THE NEWS!

    Little children give themselves the heebies with their lurid imaginings, and one smiles at it. When grown adults with expensive educations do it in a broadcast medium it is time to start asking for people to be fired.

  30. In an age of instant info the population (particularly those under the age of 25) are ready to accept any and all info thrown at them. When this whole thing of how the climate was changing spurred by a recent storm perhaps, started popping up in the media I began realizing that formerly these exact events had happened in my lifetime and that of my father. Winters and summers on the Canadian prairies have changed year to year and decade to decade BUT have repeated themselves many times. Snows of the 30’s the 50’s the 70’s and now the 10’s are similar in total snow. As well as drier winters of the 40’s 60’s 80’s and 2000’s. There have been dry summers and wet summers, cool summers and hot summers, but NOTHING has fallen outside the normal range of the recorded weather that has been recorded since Europeans started to settle North America. Last year Calgary and Southern Alberta experienced severe flooding that was touted almost instantly as “climate change” and 1 in a thousand year flood, but if one looks back only 113 years there had been 7 floods equal to or greater than the one experienced. The only thing is that there was a flood decline throughout the 60’s to 2005 and that the population of Calgary had recorded huge population growth since the 80’s thus effecting more people. Time gives perspective, but you have know or look back at the history to understand.

  31. I remember a few years ago as a Sky reporter was looking down a slope towards a newish housing development under a few feet of water and saying how it was unprecedented. What she hadn’t seen on the building behind her, above her head, was a mark of the “Great flood of 1875″ or thereabouts. I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry.

    Even yesterday when a BBC reporter was dramatising flooding around the village of Mulcheney as though it was unheard of failed to see the irony when he explained the Saxon derivation of the village name was ‘big island’.

  32. Climate Change is the reason we have “the Weather” segment during the news. If the climate wasn’t variable there would be no news, and no need to predict the upcoming week.

  33. YOUR OPENING PICTURE REVEALS ALL: where did the ancient, centuries – old church get built? On the highest point above a flood plain. There has been flooding in these areas for centuries and our ancestors knew it. Medieval Britain had more common sense than the DECC troughers and hangers-on!

  34. Big Jim Cooley, I think you need a licence to watch catch-up TV on the web. Whether they can tell if you’re doing so is another matter :).

    Take the Somerset Levels as an example. There has been a lot of flooding there this month. One village caught up in it, Muchelney, has a name that refers to it being an island — there could be a clue here. The wikipedia page for it (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muchelney), refers to its original island status being “common to many of the villages in this area of the Somerset Levels, which stood as islands just above the marshes, which have since been drained” — another clue I think! The Levels used to flood in the Winter and only be used in Summer — of course that’s not the case now. Why are they flooding in Winter now? A petition on the UK Government website (http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/45055) refers to “the Environment Agency’s refusal to dredge the river system for the past 25 years” — a third clue!!

    It’s so easy to blame AGW. But here in the UK at least we’ve seen the Environment Agency deliberately withdraw funding for flood defences in many parts of the country, and implement flood alleviation schemes for some privileged areas that then lead to flooding elsewhere. Building on flood plains is endemic and therefore more people are affected. Yet we’re told we need more houses because of immigration and the increase in single-occupancy households (divorced/unwed parents). AGW is a convenient diversion.

  35. Steve says:

    January 7, 2014 at 7:40 am

    Anyone ever watch Time Team? Well usually at some point in the programme they show a computer generated image of what the land looked like at that particular time. Quite often what is now dry land used to be rivers lakes and marshland. for example Glastonbury Thor was an island.
    Seems that building on flood plains has been going on for a lot longer than we imagine.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    The archaeology is still there on the Somerset Levels, when Glastonbury Lake Village existed. I did some research when I lived in Somerset.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glastonbury_Lake_Village

  36. Before Christmas I attended an area joint Mech E/IET lecture on Climate Change, given by Professor John Shepherd CBE FRS, a Professorial Research Fellow at the National Oceanographic Centre, University of Southampton, and a leading member of the Royal Society Climate Change Committee. I was quite staggered at what he had to say, and if he is part of the group of people advising Ed Davey I can quite understand why Davy is so convinced that disaster will befall us all if we fail to limit CO2 emissions. In his introduction he told us that he had been one of the six Royal Society “climate scientists” that had met Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation in the House of Lords at the end of November. According to Lawson, although the RS had insisted that would not participate unless journalists were kept away, Shepherd went out of his way to tell us that the meeting was not secret; its purpose apparently was to convince the Global Warming Foundation principals of the seriousness of increasing CO2 emissions. He admitted there had not been a meeting of minds!

    Almost at once Shepherd told the audience to take no notice of “sceptics” as they didn’t know what they were talking about, which as far as I was concerned set the tone for his lecture! He began with a graph showing the relationship between CO2 and temperature that was identical to the one in the Al Gore film that purported to show how very high levels of CO2 had caused very high global temperatures on four occasions in history, showing the two to be co-incident, when of course an expanded timescale shows CO2 levels lagging the temperature rise. He then showed the infamous Jones/Mann/Biffa hockey stick that had been the subject of the “hide the decline” emails and which they concocted by being very selective in which tree samples they, and particularly Biffa, had used. The current pause he dismissed as just a little blip; such blips had happened in the past and inexorable warming would start again very soon he said. And so it went on, and I cannot see him ever rowing back from the position he has taken. Further, if his five colleagues are as bad, then heaven help us. I must say I expected a little more integrity from an FRS. Another illusion shattered!

  37. Gerry says at January 7, 2014 at 8:15 am… Tewkesbury Abbey is surrounded by floods every year. It is a Norman stone church built on the site of a former Saxon church (like nearby Deerhurst Church just down the Severn). Both places are regularly surrounded by water but avoid flooding themselves.

    The reaon is that the earliest churches were wooden and when they flooded they just rebuilt in a better place. After a few centuries they got the right location.

    Also, this building in Tewkesbury that is entirely surrounded by water (it keeps appearing in the press) – it’s a former watermill. It is always surrounded by water, whatever the state of the River Avon.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/weather/10551665/UK-weather-in-pictures-Heavy-rain-causes-widespread-flooding-across-Britain.html#?frame=2782576

  38. Nice post. Damage due to flooding is only partly related to the amount of rainfall. An even greater problem is the change in land use. By reclaiming land the same amount of rain is supposed to flow away within a much smaller footprint. No surprise there is more damage. But who insures the people who build on known flood plains anyway?

  39. I think this quote in Paul’s article is indicative of the thinking here:

    “But critics say the scheme allows for no increase in the likely numbers of flood victims as weather patterns become increasingly severe and new homes are built in areas previously considered off limits because of flood risk.”

    In other words, despite not being able to get flood insurance for homes already built on flood plains, these people want a government scheme to grow to include people who are going to build on inappropriate land in the future! Basically, we want someone else to pay the bills for our development of land deemed too risky to build on. And these people are not ashamed to put their names to this blatant money-grab? They should be.

  40. I seem to recall from geology classes that much of southern and eastern England has heavy clay soils. If such soils are continually moist rain will simply runoff adding to flood risk. OTOH if such soils alternately get wet then dry then wet again there is likelihood of shrink-swelling causing potentially serious property damage. As I recall from my days in London and the Midlands there was little likelihood of the clay actually drying out since most days had some amount of rain especially in Winter. Build in a floodplain or build on unstable soils it’s all global warming to blame.

    Also I seem to remember serious flooding back in the 1950s in North Devon (Lynton/Lynmouth), and have seen flash-flooding (result of a couple of days heavyish rain) at first hand in South Devon some twelve or so years ago. I think what this article is demonstrating is that there has been NO change in southern England, at least as regards rain & floods, for a long time.

  41. How long ago was it that SE England was in the grip of a serous water shortage?

    Memory loss must be a requirement these days if you want to be a MSM news reporter.

  42. Peter Ward:
    No, the television licence applies only to LIVE television. If the aerial is removed then it’s impossible to watch it live! The net can provide live TV, but you have to actually seek it out. We are going to route the net through the TV using an HDMI cable connected to a tablet, so if we want to watch something from the previous few days then we will bring it up on the net and play it through the tablet to the TV.

  43. The only thing that is extreme is the BBC’s zeal in trying to link the storms with CAGW. The current storms are giving them the excuse pull a shameless 24/7 coverage on their greenie agenda. I’m sick of it. Heartily sick of it.

  44. There is though, no doubt, that you are having a wet winter — and — bottom line, an particularly wet winter — which I think is represented by the figures 14th wettest, 7th wettest, etc. All the graphs end with a definitive uptick. So, suck it up, you’ve got a wet winter.

    Climate change? No, of course, not. Nothing strange compared the to century’s record, but certainly not a dry winter, not a medium winter, definitely a wet winter.

    Your bottom line is absolutely correct: “there is nothing in the data to provide the slightest bit of evidence that the floods have been the result of, or aggravated by, “climate change”. Nor is there any indication that such events are becoming more common, or more extreme.”

    One need not draw trend lines, nor use computer assisted 10-year running averages to see this.

  45. Horse. I don’t know if you have read the presentation made by Lord Reese. http://theconversation.com/astronomer-royal-on-science-environment-and-the-future-18162

    He states, categorically, ” Doubling of CO2 in itself just causes 1.2 degrees warming.” When you have someone of the calibre of Lord Reese just plain lying, it is no wonder that other Fellows of the RS follow in his footsteps. As Sir Alan Rudge remarked, WWTE, it takes a brave man to put his head above the parapet.

  46. UK Sceptic says:

    January 7, 2014 at 8:42 am

    The only thing that is extreme is the BBC’s zeal in trying to link the storms with CAGW. The current storms are giving them the excuse pull a shameless 24/7 coverage on their greenie agenda. I’m sick of it. Heartily sick of it.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    I heartily agree, the biased Beeb is unwatchable. Mind you, the other channels are playing the same tune.

  47. Before ‘global-warming’, as far as the MSM are concerned “lots of rain” usually meant “lots of rain in and around London.” Now any noteworthy weather, anywhere, is global-warming. A total absence of the less frequent events would probably be described as “unprecedented”, and thus proof of catastrophic global warming, even if they changed the name again.

    I think this aspect will not go away quickly. The English are most likely to start a conversation with a complete stranger by making a comment about the weather. But these days I sometimes add in a sarcastic comment about it being due to global warming. If it elicits any response at all, it is usually a smile or a grunt of approval. The alarmists are doomed, and they know it. (They certainly should do by now: they spend enough time telling the rest of us that we’re doomed.)

  48. Stephen Richards says:
    January 7, 2014 at 7:53 am
    Quimperle is one of the unfortunate towns where the flood plain is on the seaward side of the town. It is at the confluence of two rivers, the Laita being the main one and because it is in a slight gorge the river has been channeled into gulleys through the town. With the rain we have had, the only solution would be to build a flood water gully bypassing the town, rather like the big storm gulleys in LA. I’m not sure if there is the will to do that so probably another couple of feet of stone on the river walls will be added. Beautiful town….well worth a visit. Morlaix has a similar problem, being in a gorge.

  49. A timely posting; it’s very interesting and refreshing to see a factual analysis.
    Here’s a recent newspaper letter echoing some of the points made – it’s from reader Derek Bradford in the Sunday Telegraph on December 29th 2013 (page 27):
    ‘Sir: I spent 40 years as a chartered civil engineer with the river authorities, surveying river channels and sea defences and designing and constructing improvements.
    Most of the workers on these projects were villagers who knew every twist and turn of the rivers in their area. The first task in the spring was to cut all new weed growth from banks and watercourses, eliminating anything that could cause obstruction to flows. Patrol and maintenance of banks was constant throughout the year. When flooding was likely, men would be on patrol night and day.
    But in the eighties, the government destroyed the river authorities, handing over their functions largely to the Environment Agency. Since then I have seen vital channels with trees growing in the middle, islands built in water courses, and last year, hundreds of unwanted Christmas trees tipped into channels to encourage wildlife.’

  50. This December and early January has certainly been a break from the bitterly cold winters the UK has had the last 5 years. It seems to me that the last half decade, if anything, resembles, the years of the early 12th Century. Instead of the storms coming in the spring and summer they’ve come in the autumn-winter. And in the 12th Century, the winters steadily became colder.

  51. @ Jim

    “Al Sharpton is a seriously committed man!”

    Well if he isn’t yet committed, he bloody well ought to be, over here in the PDREU-UK he would be sectioned under the Mental Health Act!

  52. milwaukeebob says: @ January 7, 2014 at 8:04 am
    as Col. Mosby indirectly wonders previously, are there no limits on how stupid people can be? Apparently, not on the Weather Channel. Maybe they should change the name to the “Climate (Change) Channel”?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Better yet “Climate (Change the) Channel”

  53. @Col Mosby
    ” If everyone agrees that there has been no climate cange for te past 17 years, then exactly how can anyone with half a brain claim that certainconditions that showed up in the past couple of years can have anything to do with cimate change?”

    Evidently you missed Sir John Beddington on the Today Show a couple of days ago explaining calmly and clearly that climate change takes 20 years to manifest itself. He chose his words carefully but his message was that the current spell of bad weather is due to the CO2 we emitted in 1992. According to him it has just been waiting patiently to burst forth now.

    I laughed out loud.

  54. These unfounded statements of increasing “extreme weather” are not entirely inconsistent with more drought. Whatever the weather or climate it’s man’s co2 wot done it.

    Journal of Hydrology
    Volume 388, Issues 1–2, 25 June 2010, Pages 131–143
    An extreme value analysis of UK drought and projections of change in the future
    …………Projections of drought for the 21st century were estimated by applying non-stationary extreme value theory to these monthly drought indices. All drought indices show an overall increase in drought in the future. However, the spread of values is considerable ranging from little change or a slight decrease to a significant increase depending on ensemble member and, to a smaller extent, location. The impact of these projections are put in the context of the notorious UK drought of the summer of 1976. This work provides preliminary steps towards a probabilistic assessment of changes in future drought.

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2010.04.035

  55. M. Courtney

    I thought the problems were worse in the South West; Dorset, Somerset and round here in Gloucestershire.

    Kent and Surrey have been badly affected as well, and for them it is probably more unusual. Certainly the rainfall anomalies are greater there.

    Gloucestershire, particularly, suffers regularly because of all the rain coming down the Severn from the Welsh mountains.

    BTW – December rainfall for Wales ranks 20th and the Midlands 33rd. For SW England/S Wales it ranks 19th.(Not available separately)

  56. Oldseadog says:
    January 7, 2014 at 8:36 am
    “How long ago was it that SE England was in the grip of a serous water shortage?
    Memory loss must be a requirement these days if you want to be a MSM news reporter.”

    I think the requirement is much stiffer than that; you have to be brain dead.

  57. Gerry says:
    January 7, 2014 at 8:15 am
    YOUR OPENING PICTURE REVEALS ALL: where did the ancient, centuries – old church get built? On the highest point above a flood plain. There has been flooding in these areas for centuries and our ancestors knew it. Medieval Britain had more common sense than the DECC troughers and hangers-on!

    Thanks for the question – I was about to ask the same. Kudos to M Courtney for your excellent response. It is this historical perspective which time and again casts the warmists’ propaganda in the proper light.

    M Courtney says:
    January 7, 2014 at 8:22 am
    Gerry says at January 7, 2014 at 8:15 am… Tewkesbury Abbey is surrounded by floods every year. It is a Norman stone church built on the site of a former Saxon church (like nearby Deerhurst Church just down the Severn). Both places are regularly surrounded by water but avoid flooding themselves.

    The reaon is that the earliest churches were wooden and when they flooded they just rebuilt in a better place. After a few centuries they got the right location.

    Also, this building in Tewkesbury that is entirely surrounded by water (it keeps appearing in the press) – it’s a former watermill. It is always surrounded by water, whatever the state of the River Avon.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/weather/10551665/UK-weather-in-pictures-Heavy-rain-causes-widespread-flooding-across-Britain.html#?frame=2782576

  58. I was a Parish councillor for a while when I lived in the UK

    The excess flooding was caused by 4 factors:-

    1. Some very strange, and some would say suspiciously inadequate, planning decisions RE siting of homes and drainage.

    2. Concreting over hillsides – its not enough to avoid building on floodplains, you’ve also got to consider what happens to the runoff water from your new housing development. Putting a housing development on a hill is often bad news for whoever lives in the valley, because concrete and tarmac doesn’t absorb rain, and in overcrowded England, there’s a lot of concrete and tarmac in new housing estates.

    3. A bizarre European Union directive that farmers have to plough their fields with the slope of the hill, rather than across it. We never got a straight answer as to why this was the case – our assumption was some Eurocrat thought that water was a precious resource, and ploughing in such a way as to enhance runoff would improve capture in reservoirs. But this as you can imagine was bad news for people living in hilly, semi rural areas, or cities surrounded by hills.

    When the EU makes a bad decision, there is no democratic means of having it reversed. The UK’s representation in the EU cannot source new legislation, it is a rubber stamp for the unelected politburo European Commission, which is the only body in the EU with the competence of introducing new legislation.

    4. Poor maintenance of waterways. In the last few decades, for whatever reason, Britain has had it easy RE rain and flooding, so many waterways are choked with weeds. In one bad case of flooding I knew of, the flood occurred because nobody could find the keys to the sluice gate, and the local laird was happy to sacrifice the homes of commoners to preserve his canal boating pleasure – breaking the sluice gate would have drained the local canals, which was far more of a tragedy than the flooding out of a few working class people.

  59. The first English sentence I have learnt was “It is raining.” Life is ruthless, the English have weather talk, Italians bel canto. Guess which country is warmer.

  60. Carbon500

    A timely posting; it’s very interesting and refreshing to see a factual analysis.
    Here’s a recent newspaper letter echoing some of the points made – it’s from reader Derek Bradford in the Sunday Telegraph on December 29th 2013 (page 27):
    ‘Sir: I spent 40 years as a chartered civil engineer with the river authorities, surveying river channels and sea defences and designing and constructing improvements.
    Most of the workers on these projects were villagers who knew every twist and turn of the rivers in their area. The first task in the spring was to cut all new weed growth from banks and watercourses, eliminating anything that could cause obstruction to flows. Patrol and maintenance of banks was constant throughout the year. When flooding was likely, men would be on patrol night and day.
    But in the eighties, the government destroyed the river authorities, handing over their functions largely to the Environment Agency. Since then I have seen vital channels with trees growing in the middle, islands built in water courses, and last year, hundreds of unwanted Christmas trees tipped into channels to encourage wildlife.’

    Thanks for this. I read the letter, and was trying to find it again!

    I think it sums up so much of what is going wrong. In the old days, you had people on the ground with local, practical knowledge, who knew what they were doing.

    Now, you have a centralised, bureacratic structure, that seems to think its role is fulfilling EU and Government diktats. The poor guys at the bottom of the chain, who still have to get their hands dirty, must be pulling their hair out.

  61. It’s not just about climate/weather…

    climatereason (January 7, 2014 at 7:19 am) and Alan the Brit (January 7, 2014 at 7:29 am) are spot on but they don’t go far enough in my opinion.

    The problem is not just ‘Climate Change’, it is also ‘Population Change’ or ‘Infrastructure Change’…

    UK Pop 1913 = 41 million
    UK Pop 2013 = 63 million

    That is an increase of over 50% in a hundred years (and the rate is increasing).

    This leads to perceived ‘Environmental Change’, as reported by agenda-driven media, in that slightly low rainfall in the summer will lead to hyped media stories of ‘extreme drought’ whereas slightly high rainfall in the winter will lead to hyped media stories of ‘extreme flooding’. Why? In the summer there are 22 million more people washing cars (not many in 1913), watering gardens, draining inadequate reservoirs (which were maybe just adequate when they were formed)… hence ‘drought’. In the winter, poor infrastructure planning and investment has led to inappropriate housing being built, 22 million more people likely to make an insurance claim, non-existent dredging of watercourses, 20 year-old reporters stating “It’s the worse I’ve ever seen!”, etc etc.

    When the BBC and other media heavyweights are allowed to report the ‘Effect’ being extreme, rather than the ‘Climate’ being extreme, then of course the wrong emphasis will be inferred by Joe Public. Newspaper editors just want to sell newspapers. TV news channels just want people to watch!

    Objective facts have little to do with this. The media war might be slowly changing, but it will be a long hard slog…

  62. I seem to remember the UK Met predicted a mild & dry winter this year, but I have no URL for that. There is a link between these storms and the cold USA weather, because the storms are staying south of the Arctic circle and so the polar region has heen dry with barometric highs, so steady cold there which is steadily bleeding into the American continent as seen on DMI.

  63. ITV News gave a fairly balanced explanation of the weather pattens last night – 6th Jan. Pointing ou the unusual arrangement of wind ptterns and temperature differences and pointing out the extreme cold in gthe USA

  64. NZ Willy on 29th November the met Office said in

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/get-ready-for-winter/blog?blogid=8779

    “However, our 30-day outlook provides a look ahead to the general type of weather we’re likely to see in the UK.

    Currently it says that after today, we’ll see settled weather and fairly normal temperatures into the first of December before the chance of some colder, more changeable weather towards the end of next week. This may last a few days before giving way to milder and unsettled weather.

    For the mid to latter part December, there are indications that temperatures are likely to remain near or slightly below average for the time of year, but otherwise fairly normal conditions for early winter are most likely.”

    No mention of rain, gales, floods, just “fairly normal conditions for early winter are most likely”.

    The problem is their computer isn’t big enough, or maybe there models can’t handle a non-linear, chaotic system after more than a few days. I blame chaos and the words of snake oil salesmen.

  65. M Courtney says:
    January 7, 2014 at 6:45 am
    First we’ll look at England as a whole, then concentrate on the South East, where the real problems have been.

    I thought the problems were worse in the South West; Dorset, Somerset and round here in Gloucestershire.

    In my part of GL5 there have not been too many problems, though the stretch along the Severn has seen flooding as it does practically every year. Apart from the persistence of the heavy rain and wind, which is down to the not unusual position of the jet stream, the main cause of the recent flood damage has been the high tides. As Paul points out, the flooding in the South East is noteworthy because that part of the country is more likely to see drought conditions.

  66. Tewkesbury is blessed by being located at the junction of two rivers. The picturesque River Avon which is often referred to as “Shakespeare’s Avon” and the mighty River Severn.

    The Avon is navigable from Tewkesbury all the way to Stratford-Upon-Avon, 45 miles upstream.

    A “blessing” in one season can be a curse in other times. Also, just wondering if some of this is tidal action, as well as the two rivers.

  67. So what exactly are the facts?
    Facts we don’t need no stinking facts , just think how good this claim is for ‘the cause ‘ for after all even if its a complete lie . We saving the planet .
    To often sceptics think their in fight about facts when there actual in a fight about BS.
    Like brining a knife to a gun fight, its not going to end well.

  68. Paul, that was both a good read and good science. Clear, comprehensive, understandable, and fully cited and source. Well done, that man!

    w.

  69. There was a man from Derbyshire (possibly a farmer) who contacted the BBC on Sunday morning after Sir David King had been on the BBC saying that the floods were the result of climate change and the government must spend hundreds of millions of pounds more on flood defences. This man said that the real reason for the floods was that the government agency tasked with dredging ditches, dykes and rivers ignored its responsibility so that the water couldn’t flow away. I thought he sounded much more sensible than King.

    By the way I was also listening on Friday night when the BBC was interviewing the victims of the floods. I think that they were a little deflated by the responses. One man from Northern Ireland, for example, who was being pressed to say how terrible it was merely replied, “There’s plenty of people in the world worse off.” Good for him.

  70. The UK is a small country by area with a middling population. The natural environment has been heavily modified of the last 2000 years. Rivers such as the Severn and the Wye used to be navigable much further inland when the Romans were here. They have silted up as a result of soil erosion caused by agriculture. This leads to flooding. The country is 95% deforested, unlike say France and Germany. There are very few trees to hold back heavy rain. As always in the UK, the built environment is poorly maintained, especially in terms of the culverts and drains that are meant to remove flood water. The Environment Agency seems to have lost its focus and in some areas of the country it is telling landowners that their land will be allowed to flood rather than maintain and improve the flood defences. We should not be surprised at the current events.

  71. Paul Homewood, thank for replying so courteously. I did not man to disparage the suffering in the SE of England it’s just that a lot of the press (and your photo) was of the SW and your did not give the details for round here.
    Also we are suffering the worst flooding since 2007. OK, that’s not long in Geological time but it is almost a decade.

  72. Bill Parsons, Thank you. You are too kind to me. What I wrote about Tewkesbury is just common knowledge around north Gloucestershire.
    And special thanks for linking to the extra photos of Tewkesbury flooding. It even names the building I referred to; the Abbey Mill. It is always in the river – even when the river isn’t in the road.

  73. Central England 25 year Average Maximum Temperature

    1888 to 1912 13.9 °C
    1913 to 1937 13.9 °C
    1938 to 1962 13.9 °C
    1963 to 1987 14.0 °C
    1988 to 2013 13.9 °C

  74. “There are supposedly limits on how stupid people can be. Now I’m beginning to doubt that.”
    One must keep in mind that 50% of the population has an IQ LESS than 100. (there are also 50% with an [IQ] greater) The AGW scam relies on those with an IQ below 100. Now add in those indoctrinated and brain washed and it is easy to reach a majority. Marketing 101

  75. If there are any civil engineers or hydrologists at the top of the Environment Agency in the UK , it isn’t apparent from the biogs on the web site.

  76. Lol….the earth is so old yet you judge its health by the last 17 years! We are at the begining of global mass extinction, with thousands of species dissapearing on a regular basis….why?…..sea level is rising….why?…melting glaciers….co2 levels…the list goes on! This year alone the world has had some of the worst extreme weather we have ever seen….hello….do you people live in a bubble….or just really gullible!

  77. I live more or less in the middle of England , our river is only slightly high , nothing at all unusual ,the flooding is whats happening elswhere , when we had the storms we had a couple of wooden benches tipped over , the Midlands does not do excitement !! Oh and we have had so far this winter one slight frost and no snow or even sleet , my flat has been averaging 75f all winter and i have still got the main radiator switched off !!

  78. Two years ago the winter drought that was going to lead to terrible water shortages was also blamed on ‘global warming’.

  79. “A bizarre European Union directive that farmers have to plough their fields with the slope of the hill, rather than across it.”

    I suppose that would certainly accelerate runoff, not that that would be desirable necessarily; it would also greatly increase soil erosion – definitely not desirable. It’s why soil conservaton districts here in Virginia spend a lot of effort to encourage contour ploughing.

  80. In bid to understand what is actually going on with the UK weather I’ve recently taken to charting and exploring the Met Office historical data using a web based data visualization tool called Tableau. It does a far better job than Excel and lets one share the Web link with others so they can explore and query the data for themselves – so much better than static charts. I started off looking at my local station (Leuchars http://bit.ly/1aFwMcH ) but given the fixation in the media with the rain down South I thought readers here might appreciate a data visualization of Heathrow http://bit.ly/1cX28zJ
    The station data does not yet include the very wet December 2013 but given the excellent and informative post by Paul I doubt it will be anything exceptional.

  81. “It is absolutely barking mad to build on a flood plain when there are so many other places that could be built on.”

    You grab what land you can, build the houses, grab the cash. Anything else is somebody else’s problem.

  82. @ z gardner
    “the earth is so old yet you judge its health by the last 17 years!”

    The Global Warmers judge it by the 15 years between 1980 and 1995.

    “We are at the begining of global mass extinction”

    How do you know?

    “sea level is rising”

    Slightly, slowly, as it has been doing for 100 years or more.

    “melting glaciers”

    Been melting since 1850. Others are growing.

    “co2 levels”

    No evidence to suggest it is anything other than good for plants and harmless for us.

    “This year alone the world has had some of the worst extreme weather we have ever seen”

    Unless you are extremely young, there has been weather just as extreme in your lifetime.

    “do you people live in a bubble….or just really gullible!”

    Same question to you.

  83. Yes, It is made worse & more frequent by climate change. Climate change is driven by increasing atmospheric co2 concentration.
    Keep denying and finding reasons for denying but climate change is happening through human’s actions on the planet.
    All you denyiers, rip in a get a cheap seaside property while us worriers move to higher ground.

  84. @ Ro — Ha! — Excellent rebuttal of z at 5:45pm today (actually, your reply gave him or her more credit for rational thought than his or her nearly nonsensical post demonstrated).
    ************************************************************

    @ Bern 235 — CO2 UP. WARMING STOPPED (17 YEARS AGO).

    Cite even ONE piece of evidence for your assertion. No, the computer simulations run on the IPCC’s “models,” are not data, i.e., evidence. Look high. Look low. You will find NO EVIDENCE that CO2 can do ANY-thing to drive Earth’s climate. Only speculation and conjecture.

    Why are you worried?

    The weather is what it has been. The sea levels are what they have been (check any sea navigation chart going back to the 1700’s).

    Why in the world are you worried?

    You are choosing to simply take at face value someone’s unsupported testimony. Why?

    Next time, instead if simply believing them like a small child would, say back to them what an adult would, “Prove it.”

    …………. or are you just having a hard time trying to sell that house on the bluff you built on spec last year?

  85. It is important to note in Germany they were dredging their rivers less for environmental reasons which of course they got flooding that killed a lot of people. I do not know about England and how the dredge their rivers.

    The way Germany dredged their rivers was hard to find many years ago. There was no major news report about it.

  86. “First we’ll look at England as a whole, then concentrate on the South East, where the real problems have been.”

    … oh yes? I live in Scotland where it has also been raining a lot. Indeed, because we always get more rain, a 100% increase on normal is a LOT MORE RAIN, than in London where there’s more urine than rain.

  87. The EA no longer dredge rivers, which they told my a couple of years ago, because of cost. They do undertake ”scouring” to clear debris. Unfortunately scouring only moves a problem downstream, dredging removes the problem totally.
    The EA claim that dredgings in town and city areas has to be treated as waste under EU regulations. This means removed, dried and screened for unwanted debris like supermarket trollies, and disposed of in a licenced landfill site. Dredgings in farming areas can be landed onto the banks without the waste regulations applying because it does not have to be removed. This all piles costs onto an already costly system so dredging is not carried out in areas that desperately need it like river stretches through towns and cities.
    The whole reason for flooding to happen is water backup due to an obstruction like weed, silt etc., so if water can be persuaded to move quickly through and out of an vulnerable area flooding will be less likely. Flooded farmland is less of a problem and can be beneficial in that it moves fertile silt onto fields.

  88. john

    Rather than cost it may be an environmental concern in that dredging might disturb wildlife. if you have a river that might have water voles there is more chance of the flood plain being paved with gold than expecting the EA to dredge it.

    tonyb

  89. Col Mosby says:
    January 7, 2014 at 6:43 am

    “Anytime I hear climate change as an explanation of anything, I feel compelled to point out the logical absurdity of it all….”

    Yes, the argument based on the lack of global warming over the last 17 years is clearly right. Something can’t be caused by something else that doesn’t exist.

    For the doom mongers the lack of warming is just too inconvenient, in fact it’s a complete catastrophe. Their response is very simple: they tell outrageous lies.
    Many still refer to ongoing global warming, and some claim that global warming is actually accelerating (including, sadly, the President of the United States). The Telegraph recently reported a statement from “scientists” that the English climate is warming faster than the global average – of course, the English climate, as shown by the CET, has been rapidly and consistently getting colder since 2000.

    There’s an old saying that a lie will go around the world before the truth has got its boots on. But I think the truth usually wins in the long run. The sad thing is that I may not live to see it.
    Chris

  90. climatereason,

    In Lincolnshire, where Drainage Boards operate, the Vole seems not to bother when weed etc is removed. They still exist happily living in the river banks. Wild Mink are the problem with predating water voles and they are on the increase since hunting with hounds was criminalised. As a historic note, the vole thrived when rivers were dredged but there were no released mink around then and for that we have to thank the so called animal liberationalists and their twisted thinking.

    Coastal flooding during the past week was not a storm problem alone but a combination of a high spring tide, caused by the conjunction of sun and moon both of which are closer to earth for this series of springs, in combination with the storms. The storms in themselves were not of ”record” strength.

    The BBC, in their eagerness to report ”records broken” do not explain the reality. How long before the claim of climate change rises I dread to think but I am sure it will emerge.

  91. john
    You said;;

    ‘ As a historic note, the vole thrived when rivers were dredged but there were no released mink around then and for that we have to thank the so called animal liberationalists and their twisted thinking.’

    Voles like fast flowing rivers provided by dredging. You know that and I know that but the EA believe otherwise.

    I live a few yards from the sea in South Devon. Yes, the ‘spring’ high tides being coincident with the bad weather was unfortunate otherwise the gales would not have had as great an effect in some places.

    Another very big consideration is the wind direction. The wind direction piled up the waves in some places but in our village the waves were small. We have had far worse as we are most affected by easterlies, not westerlies.

    tonyb

  92. PMQs today. Some MP (heard not who) challenged the PM to confirm that these extreme weather events are related to Climate Change.
    David Cameron was weaselly but did seem to do so.
    I await Hansard’s Parliametary record with interest.

  93. bern235 says:
    January 7, 2014 at 6:41 pm
    “Yes, It is made worse & more frequent by climate change. Climate change is driven by increasing atmospheric co2 concentration.
    Keep denying and finding reasons for denying but climate change is happening through human’s actions on the planet.”
    If your post is not a ‘wind-up’, then I find your comments staggering. How can you come up with comments like this when datasets such as the Central England Temperature record (CET) and from NASS/GISS clearly indicate that global temperatures are in fact quite stable within a limited range, despite a mild (about 1 degree Centigrade) warming over the 20th century. Direct links to such data on this website are often given on this website.
    Do you really think that they are all fraudulent, a part of some conspiracy?
    I have my suspicions that you’re young, have been influenced by biased and scientifically illiterate teachers at school, and consequently haven’t been given much of a critically scientific mindset – you’re far too accepting of the stories we’ve all been subjected to (ad nauseum) over the years.
    Do some research of your own – ask yourself if something’s plausible, and look at what’s out there in the real world.
    As an example, the UK’s CET at no time shows an average yearly temperature over 11 degrees Centigrade – and that’s since the mid 1600s, and that’s despite increasing CO2 levels (you do know what the concentration of CO2 is and how it’s varied over the years, I take it?)
    I’ve lived here in the UK since the 1940s, and haven’t noted any climatic changes which might be perceived as threatening. Cold winters, warm winters, wet summers, dry summers, cooler years, warmer years – we’ve had them all. As I often joke, come to the UK and escape the disaster.
    It’s getting to the stage where perfectly normal weather events (however severe) are being described as harbingers of the coming climatic holocaust by the warming brigade.
    The abysmal performance of computer models (i.e. calculations) has been widely commented on.
    And finally, there’s the most unscientific aspect of it all as far as I’m concerned. As I never cease to point out, no-one has published a paper describing a laboratory experiment to demonstrate the effect of varying CO2/water vapour concentrations under controlled conditions using modern equipment.
    No one.
    I’ve written to and had this confirmed by the UK’s MetOffice. The whole catastrophic man-made (anthropogenic) global warming (CAGW) scenario is a house of cards, lacking this vital, essential foundation stone.
    Stop worrying, and start researching!

  94. Reblogged this on Cornwall Wind Watch and commented:
    and a lack of drainage infrastructure going in as well. Our parish council recently voted down a large housing estate based on surface water run off and it being sited in an area which has had flooding problems for years. rubber stamped approval of course.

  95. From the UK Prime Minister’s Question Time in Wednesday 8th January 2014
    Tim Farron (Westmorland and Lonsdale) (LD):

    Paul Goggins was a decent, humble man and, in my experience, one of the most effective and fair Ministers the House has seen. He will be very sadly missed.
    The Prime Minister will know that the science is clear that the extreme weather conditions affecting our communities, including around the Kent estuary in Westmorland, are at least in part a destructive and inevitable consequence of climate change. Given that he has said that this should be the “greenest Government ever”, will he now agree to support the carbon reduction targets so that we can take real action to protect people and property?

    The Prime Minister:

    I agree with my hon. Friend that we are seeing more abnormal weather events. Colleagues across the House can argue about whether that is linked to climate change or not; I very much suspect that it is. The point is that, whatever one’s view, it makes sense to invest in flood defences and mitigation and to get information out better, and we should do all of those things. As for carbon reduction targets, this Government are committed to them and we worked with the last Government to put the Climate Change Act 2008 into place. That would not have happened without our support. We also have the green investment bank up and running in Edinburgh, and we are going to be investing billions of pounds in important green projects.
    Q10. [901802]

    David Cameron doing his best Bon Jovi impression:
    Slippery When Wet

  96. In the not to distant past, bad weather would have the officials burn someone (a witch) at the stake or in other places, offer you up to the gods as a sacrifice. People shouldn’t sit back and smugly claim we are now to refined for such shenanigans. Just 60 years ago the world populations did a good job of destroying much of humanity for even less definable goals.

  97. The news that Scotland has just experienced it’s wettest ever month interests me. It’s been my long held belief that Scotland’s weather patterns are optimised for perma-drenching; any attempt to alter them can only decrease rainfall. The only way to increase rainfall here is to physically boil the seas faster. The fact that we experienced this record rainfall without any particular flooding tends to confirm my belief. It’s also worth noting that we don’t build on floodplains in Scotland because there isn’t any terrain flat enough to qualify.

  98. Kelvin Vaughan says:

    January 7, 2014 at 11:55 am

    Central England 25 year Average Maximum Temperature

    1888 to 1912 13.9 °C
    1913 to 1937 13.9 °C
    1938 to 1962 13.9 °C
    1963 to 1987 14.0 °C
    1988 to 2013 13.9 °C

    Oooops copied out wrong figures it should have been.

    1888 to 1912 12.7 °C
    1913 to 1937 12.9 °C
    1938 to 1962 13.2 °C
    1963 to 1987 13.2 °C
    1988 to 2013 13.9 °C

  99. The rainfall extreme records from the Met Office below show how extreme rainfall can be in the UK and many recent events are nothing compared to what can happen. Many records are before global warning was even suppose to be a scare. The data only goes back to the early 20th century and there have been reports in history of much wetter periods back during the Little Ice Age. This was a period where storms instead of tracking its usual place towards Iceland would often go towards the UK instead.

    http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/mandias/lia/little_ice_age.html

    Highest 24-hour rainfall totals for a rainfall day (0900-0900 GMT)

    Country Rainfall (mm) Date Location

    England 279 18 July 1955 Martinstown (Dorset)
    Scotland 238 17 January 1974 Sloy Main Adit (Argyll & Bute)
    Wales 211 11 November 1929 Lluest Wen Reservoir (Mid Glamorgan)
    Northern Ireland 159 31 October 1968 Tollymore Forest (County Down)

    The highest 24-hour total for any 24-hour period is 316.4 mm from 0000 to 2359 on 19th November 2009 at Seathwaite, Cumbria.

    UK rainfall records for short durations

    Minutes Rainfall (mm) Date Location

    Highest 5-minute total 32* 10 August 1893 Preston (Lancashire)
    Highest 30-minute total 80 26 June 1953 Eskdalemuir (Dumfries & Galloway)
    Highest 60-minute total 92 12 July 1901 Maidenhead (Berkshire)
    Highest 90-minute total 117 8 August 1967 Dunsop Valley (Lancashire)
    Highest 120-minute total 193# 19 May 1989 Walshaw Dean Lodge (West Yorkshire)
    Highest 120-minute total 155# 11 June 1956 Hewenden Reservoir (West Yorkshire)
    Highest 155-minute total 169 14 August 1975 Hampstead (Greater London)
    Highest 180-minute total 178 7 October 1960 Horncastle (Lincolnshire)

    * Approximate value.

    # Reservations about Walshaw value, Hewenden value is next highest accepted value.

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/climate-extremes/#?tab=climateExtremes

  100. Paul Homewood – I read the Prime Minister’s comments with a sinking feeling. Well done for sending the FOI request – I hope you get a reply. It’s nice to see all the meteorological data that people have sent in response to your article. It’s a pity the majority of the UK’s politicians don’t seem to be aware of of this sort of information. I sent a letter enclosing a print-out of the CET to my MP, who failed to even acknowledge my letter (sent to the Houses of Parliament).
    Ah well – I suppose we have to keep chipping away and hope that one day reason will prevail!

  101. carbon500

    the only solution is to actually meet your MP at a local surgery as I did a few months ago. They are past masters at waving away information sent by post or email

    You might find it useful to use one of my graphs, either of Cet or of fuel costs against our declining temperatures.

    http://climatereason.com/Graphs/

    tonyb

  102. Devastation by flooding in Ireland too… But from the beginning the warnings gave the cause as coincident with high tides.

    From the 2nd January:

    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/weekend-flooding-warnings-dublin-northern-ireland-180705933.html

    From 4th january more record tides: http://www.irishcentral.com/news/Record-tides-and-floods-as-severe-storms-lash-Ireland-with-more-on-the-way-238705731.html

    Interesting looking at the rain across the GB and Ireland via radar on the accuweather site 7th Jan: http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/strong-winds-and-heavy-rain-to/21759520

  103. tonyb: Thank you for your suggestion and kind offer of the use of your graphs, both of which I’ll take up. I suppose it’s the way things are now – on the odd occasion when I wrote to my MP in the past, I always received a detailed reply in response to my question.
    Clearly my ‘green’ MP hasn’t got an answer to the points I made.

  104. While there is a desire to refer to profound sources for climate information may I refer to an ordinary housewife’s diary from the WW2 mass observation program to record everyday thoughts of ordinary people. In this she records weather that makes our current bad weather as an example of climate change a clear cut non event worthy of taken only as factually reliable as a politicians pre election speech; The diary of “Nella Last’s War: The Second World War Diaries of ‘Housewife 49′” A second volume of her diaries, “Nella Last’s Peace: The Post-war Diaries of Housewife 49″ is even more relevant to this case.
    As for flooding any visitor to Abingdon can see the plaque showing the level of the flood in the sixteen hundreds.
    My favourite though and winner of the climate stupidity of the year has to be the BBC program in which the said the floods were exceptional and almost certainly climate change from industrial CO2 but forgot that one of the people they talked to had said the village name derived from old English for “village in the lake”. An interesting snippet which I confirmed at the time from a book of place names.

  105. I’ve always found a bit of history is usually in order around these discussions:

    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/34439/34439-h/34439-h.htm

    August 8, 1808.—A remarkable storm occurred at Norwich. Streets were inundated and cellars flooded. “The roaring of the waters in falling from the roof to the lower leads of the Cathedral was so tremendous as literally to drown the noise of the thunder that accompanied it.”

    January 28, 1809—In consequence of a rapid thaw, the low lying parts of Norwich were flooded. “Some of the houses were six or seven feet under water,” and boats were rowed in the street at St. Martin-at-Oak. The marshes below Norwich were so inundated that the course of the river could not be traced, and the barge proceeding to Yarmouth had to return, in consequence of the men being unable to find the channel.

    February 16, 1816—A high tide at Yarmouth. The Denes and the west side of the haven were inundated. A similar occurrence had not been recorded since 1791. A flood also took place at Lynn.

    January 15, 1820—Very severe weather set in. The thermometer fell to seven degrees. A rapid thaw took place on the 18th, and a flood ensued.

    March 1, 1820—A severe storm and high flood occurred in the Lynn district.

    November 16, 1821—A severe storm took place. The roads were in many parts of the county rendered impassable by the heavy rains, and the marshes and low grounds were flooded.

    July 14, 1824.—A severe thunderstorm occurred at Norwich after a period of very sultry weather. “Almost immediately after the tempest a cloud of immense magnitude and extreme density, having the appearance of a mass of snow, passed over the city. Drifting with a strong westerly wind it was so low as to envelope a considerable portion of the Cathedral spire. Its passage was attended with a very curious phenomenon. The current of the river, which had previously been sluggish, suddenly became very rapid, as if propelled by the irruption of some mighty flood. This acceleration lasted about ten minutes, the cloud having once passed over, the stream gradually resumed its former rate of progression.”

    Etc, ad nauseum.

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