A New Kind Of Rain

By Paul Homewood

Verity Jones, over at Digging in the Clay, reminds me of an interview with Lord Smith, the politician formerly known as Chris Smith, in the Sunday Telegraph.

According to Smith, a former Environment Secretary and now head of the Environment Agency

Last year taught us that weather patterns are getting more extreme,” says Lord Smith. “If you’d said to me a decade ago that we’d have a year in which the first three months would be facing a serious prospect of very severe drought, but we’d then have nine months of the wettest period since records began, I’d have just said, ‘No, that sort of extreme weather does not happen here in Britain.’ Increasingly, it does.

The weather is highly unpredictable and presents new challenges, he says, adding: “We are experiencing a new kind of rain.”

It may sound like an excuse from a railway company, but Lord Smith insists that it is true. “Instead of rain sweeping in a curtain across the country, we are getting convective rain, which sits in one place and just dumps itself in a deluge over a long period of time. From the point of view of filling up the rivers and the drains, that is quite severe.”

According to Wikipedia,

Convection occurs when the Earth’s surface,mainly in the equatorial region, within a conditionally unstable, or moist atmosphere, becomes heated more than its surroundings, leading to significant evaporation . Convective rain, or showery precipitation, occurs from convective clouds, e.g., cumulonimbus or cumulus congestus. It falls as showers with rapidly changing intensity. Convective precipitation falls over a certain area for a relatively short time, as convective clouds have limited horizontal extent. Most precipitation in the tropics appears to be convective.

You will note that there is an immediate disconnect – Smith claims the rain falls “over a long period of time”, not the “relatively short time” defined in Wikipedia. There is, of course, a second problem. Summer temperatures last year in the UK were well below normal, so convection should have been much reduced.



Nevertheless, if Smith is right, his claims should be borne out by the monthly rainfall statistics for June to August, as logically that is when the convective effect should be at its greatest. It is also the summer months that have seen rainfall trends on the increase in recent years.



So let’s take a look at the England & Wales Rainfall Series, that is maintained by the Met Office and goes back to 1766. The following graphs show the monthly rainfall totals for each of the three months.




The rankings for 2012 were :-

June – 1st (out of 247)

July – 33rd

August – 80th

So the following points stand out.

  • Even though the wettest June occurred last year, June 1860 and 1768 were almost as wet.
  • Although wetter than average, July and August 2012 were by no means exceptional months, when placed in the historical context.
  • In none of the months is there any indication that rainfall in recent years has been unusually high, or is exhibiting any particular trend.
  • The summer, as a whole, was the wettest since 1912. However, this has occurred largely because all three months were wetter than normal, with no really dry interludes in between. This simply reflects the inherent variability of English weather, the coincidence of events and the workings of the jet stream, rather than any deep climatic changes.

It is not surprising that Smith attempts to connect last year’s rainfall with climate change, particularly when he is responsible for the UK’s flood defences and the problems experienced last year. However, if there was any basis to his claims, the monthly charts would show evidence of it. They don’t.


I thought it worthwhile to repost the Met Office’s summary for June 2012.

The weather was dominated by low pressure over or close to the UK, with associated weather fronts. These brought rather cool days, some very large rainfall totals and also some strong winds early in the month. There was an almost complete absence of warm, settled spells.

The UK mean temperature was 0.7 °C below the 1981–2010 average and it was the coolest June since 1991. Daily maximum temperatures were well below normal, particularly in many central and eastern areas, with few warm days.


Not exactly tropical!

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Rud Istvan
February 4, 2013 3:10 pm

Poor fact challenged politicians. The same analysis was done for the US over the past century, picking both local regions (Lincoln Nebraska because of importance for crops like corn) and the lower 48. Same result. You can get it in the climate chapter of The Arts of Truth. Someone on Asia is hopefully doing the same thing. Eventually facts will wear them down. Illegitimi non carborundum!

Bryan A
February 4, 2013 3:11 pm

well at least it is a Moist Cold

February 4, 2013 3:16 pm

The key phrase is
‘According to Smith, a former Environment Secretary and now head of the Environment Agency’
Enough said.

Rhoda R
February 4, 2013 3:17 pm

I think they just grab a term out of their word-hoard and, if it sounds scary and sciency enough (and not too well understood), run with it.

February 4, 2013 3:19 pm

There is some incredibly stuff printed these days…

February 4, 2013 3:26 pm

But is it the wrong kind of rain?

February 4, 2013 3:28 pm

h2o gas rises, ineluctibly, due to buoyancy- regardless of relative temperature, does it not?
until you condense it, it’s headed for the stratosphere, is it not?
nobody is drowning, so can he stop blowing smoke already?

Don Keiller
February 4, 2013 3:30 pm

Chris Smith was always an intellectual lightweight.
Like so many politicians these days, they get their only training in school and university
debating societies.
Basically where those who have no mates and can’t play sport end up.
However these nerds have the last laugh (unfortunately for us).

Luther Wu
February 4, 2013 3:34 pm

Bryan A says:
February 4, 2013 at 3:11 pm
well at least it is a Moist Cold

Chuck L
February 4, 2013 3:37 pm

Facts? We don’t need no stinking facts!

February 4, 2013 3:38 pm

Their ‘ wrong type of snow’ or rain or sunshine is just another adaptation of ‘snow job’.

February 4, 2013 3:40 pm

Here in California we suffered through a terrible drought over the past 8 days only to have torrential rains on Saturday the likes of which we had not seen in 2 weeks. This is clear evidence of climate disruption. /s

David L
February 4, 2013 3:46 pm

So seemlessly they have morphed the meme from increasing temperatures to extreme events.

February 4, 2013 3:50 pm

It’s the stuff that makes ’em look foolish what makes it a “new kind of rain”. Easier to invent something completely outlandish than to own up to the fact that your job is worthless.
No wonder “Great Britain” is no longer great.

Alex H
February 4, 2013 3:51 pm

“The weather is highly unpredictable and presents new challenges” – I like how you can now use the idea of ‘unpredictable weather’ to cover up for the fact that you’ve failed to accurately predict it. Makes it sound more sinister

February 4, 2013 3:51 pm

I wrote this last week, before the announcement — but I didn’t expect it to be proven so correct, so soon. Original at http://religiousatrocities.wordpress.com/2013/01/29/uk-a-meteorological-officers-lament/
Dedicated to the UK Meteorological Office.
To the tune of ‘American Pie’ by Don McLean
A long long time ago
I’d look out the window and predict the
Weather for the day.
If I saw clouds I’d call for rain,
If not I’d say “It’s fine again.”
And folks were fairly happy
Either way.
But lately we’ve been automated,
Our good intentions are frustrated.
All of our predictions
Turn out to be fictions.
Last week I said it would be dry.
It nearly made me want to cry
When floods demolished Hay-on-Wye,
The day the forecast died.
I started singing: “Bunk, bunk, the programs are junk.
They’ve been written by a kitten or a twelve-year-old punk.
The modeller’s a toddler, or perhaps he was drunk.
And now our reputation is sunk.”
Now, if you don’t have any skills
And you’re hepped up on happy pills,
No way to make a living,
You’ll find climate science forgiving.
You don’t have to get it right,
Say day is night and black is white,
The snow clouds that are forming?
Blame them on global warming!
When you have a CPU,
Why not let it think for you?
Although sometimes its thoughts aren’t true..
The day the forecast died.
I started singing: “Bunk, bunk, the programs are junk.
They’ve been written by a kitten or a twelve-year-old punk.
The modeller’s a toddler, or perhaps he was drunk.
And now our reputation is sunk.
Now our reputation is sunk.”
The taxpayers are getting mad,
With all the money that we’ve had,
They’re uttering maledictions
On computerised predictions.
They just don’t seem to understand,
The finest data in the land,
Can’t make predictions work
When weather goes berserk.
So here’s the burden of my song,
Our models were right all along,
It’s the real world that got it wrong!
The day the forecast died.
I started singing: “Bunk, bunk, the programs are junk.
They’ve been written by a kitten or a twelve-year-old punk.
The modeller’s a toddler, or perhaps he was drunk.
And now our reputation is sunk.…
Now our reputation is sunk.”

February 4, 2013 3:54 pm

If this new kind of rain freezes, will it become rotten ice?

February 4, 2013 4:02 pm

The wrong kind of rain is that which doesn’t fall in line behind the grant-hippies’ models, esp. following any period during which one of their gurus has pontificated on weather not being the same as climate.

February 4, 2013 4:05 pm

What a lot of twaddle he’s spouting!

Peter Miller
February 4, 2013 4:11 pm

Chris Smith is well known as having come from the shallow end of the gene pool.
Also, environmental agencies are like cess pits, the big lumps always float to the top.
I am sure he thought what he said was clever and insightful, when in reality it was the exact opposite, broadcasting to everyone his ignorance of all matters to do with climate.
“We are experiencing a new kind of rain” is a statement totally deserving contempt and on par with British Rail’s famous comment of a few years to explain rail chaos being the result of “the wrong kind of snow.”

February 4, 2013 4:20 pm

maybe there needs to be an equally edifying list of types of rain?
i’m inspired to make a start.
cowa = rain that falls upward
mowa = rain that represents a negative externality and must be taxed
powa = rain that represents a positive externality that must be subsidized by a new tax
babawawa = anthropogenic rain that has been interviewed on 60 minutes
ginwa = rain that is mashed and fermented into an intoxicating press release.
fukwa = rain that is used in torrents to drown the voice of reason
bulwa = rain sold to the gullible as wine
werewa = rain that is wetter than we thought but only on full moons
malwa = rain that is punishment for sinfulness
williwa = rain that ends badly with much tedious and tendentious parsing of the picayune

February 4, 2013 4:24 pm

The rain is associated with the low pressure regions because that is where the atmosphere is most unstable. The rain has very little to do with the surface temperature. One must investigate the reasons for persistant low pressure in a particular region to find the reasons for higher than normal rainfall.

Olaf Koenders
February 4, 2013 4:24 pm

It’s just a slow attempt at reconditioning our thoughts and the very meaning of words to establish what they say is truth. “new normal”, “different kind of rain” is an attempt to imply something isn’t right.
Unfortunately, the sheeple they intend to deceive never fact-check, they just parrot popular opinion, or whatever they’ve been TOLD is popular opinion, regardless the data stating otherwise.

February 4, 2013 4:32 pm

If it was drier than normal he would still pull the bunny from the hat and claim extreme weather. What did the Met Office forecast again last year for the first half of the year? FAIL. The whole thing is a green scam.
PS,. I love his pose. Chin on hand, deeeeeeeep thoughts from a superior thinker as opposed to us Neanderthal deniers. Oh well, only time will tell. 😉

Bruce Cobb
February 4, 2013 4:33 pm

C02’s magical powers are truly amazing. Apparently, what it has done during the past 16 years is to stop putting it’s energy to work warming the planet and instead concentrating on producing “extreme weather”, and even new types of weather. It truly is history in the making.

spangled drongo
February 4, 2013 4:37 pm

Isn’t it great to have long term data like that to see off the wankers.
Our recent floods in eastern Australia have the media giving increasing exposure to people who say things like, “I’ve lived here for 15 years and never seen anything like it”.

February 4, 2013 4:38 pm

“new kind of” is the latest meme. It is part of the ever-changing, shape-shifting global calamity gravy train. For example, in Australia we have been told that there is now a “new kind of” heat, after a fairly typical summer heatwave.
Do they get together and discuss these shifting terminological inexactitudes, or does it just happen by mitosis?

February 4, 2013 4:39 pm

A 2012 report on flood risk published by the Chartered Insurance Institute highlights the stupidity of the UK’s development planning since 1954:
“A growing understanding of engineering and natural systems, combined with a long spell of relatively few UK floods between 1954 and 1990, seems to have made planners more confident that they could use floodplains in ways which would have seemed foolish to previous generations.
“With hindsight and a growing awareness of the uncertainty inherent in extreme flooding events, these decisions now appear unwise (Cook: 2010). Insurers are well aware that the properties at the greatest risk of flooding are often those built during this post-war period. It is only now that there are moves for floodplain restoration in areas such as Berkshire, Conwy Valley, Dorset, and Hampshire.
“It is particularly unfortunate that a combination of factors has meant that many older properties which were once safe from flood are now exposed, due to new factors such as:
“-changing land practices to increase arable production, including the digging of field drains and
-construction of embankments to protect fields which used to store flood water;
-covering the flood plain with impermeable roads and buildings thus reducing flood storage;
-overloading sewers and watercourses by new urban development; or
-failing to clean sewers, watercourses, gully pots or culverts clogged by fly-tipping due to the Waste Directive.”
1954 is an interesting start date. As mentioned before on WUWT 1953 was a bad year for floods:
“On the evening of 31 January 1953, the Kent coast was hit by a storm surge which had swept down the eastern coast of England causing death and destruction.
“High tides, strong winds and low air pressure combined to raise sea levels in the North Sea and send a storm surge with up to 20ft (6m) waves south along the coast.
“Sea defences were breached and water surged through the streets of coastal towns flooding thousands of low-lying homes.
“About 5,000 acres of farmland was covered by the sea water, and thousands of animals died in the flooding.
“Death toll was estimated at 307 in English coastal towns and villages
More than 177 people were lost at sea in fishing boats
About 130 people died in the Irish Channel ferry Princess Victoria
In Holland and Belgium more than 3,000 people were killed
Coastal towns in Norfolk, Suffolk , Essex, Kent and Lincolnshire were devastated by sea water
Thousands of animals drowned
Tracts of farmland were made infertile by salt water”
So much for pretending they didn’t have hindsight.

Another Gareth
February 4, 2013 4:53 pm

That’s Lord Smith of GLOBE International (Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment)
“The Global Legislators’ Organisation (GLOBE) supports national parliamentarians to develop and agree common legislative responses to the major challenges posed by sustainable development.
GLOBE supports legislators through national chapters providing economic and policy support to develop legislation and monitor how it is implemented.
With headquarters in London, offices in Beijing, Brussels, Mexico City, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro and members in 70 countries, GLOBE is reshaping international politics on sustainable development.”
Smith is also a member of the Green Fiscal Commission.
“The objective of the Green Fiscal Commission (GFC) is to prepare the ground for a significant programme of green fiscal reform in the UK, in terms of both assembling the evidence base for such a reform, and raising stakeholder and public awareness of it. The GFC will achieve this through:”
Note the separation between stakeholders and the ‘public’. I find it peculiar that in these kinds of organisations the public are never considered a suitable stakeholder. We pay for it all yet are not included in the decision making process.
Neither position merited inclusion in his Environment Agency biography.

February 4, 2013 5:01 pm

KISS:Keep it simple stupid. Tropical storms are driven by warm air rising. The warmer the air the more energy it has to drive the storm. The energy in the air is directly related to its absolute temperature. A one degree C increase at 32 C (90F) would result in an increase in energy of 1/(273+32) X100 = .3%. Since kinetic engergy is a function of velocity squared, then the wind speed increase from 1 degree of global warming would be .16%. So yes, in theory, storms would get more severe, but it is by a trivial amount. What am I missing?

February 4, 2013 5:13 pm

It wasn’t me, (though I confess the thought did cross my mind.)
(I’m referring to the fist slugging Lord Smith on the chin, in the picture.) (Which explains his dazed look.) (Perhaps he was hitting himself?) (For all the amazingly incorrect forecasts, perhaps?)

February 4, 2013 5:18 pm

Kids just won’t know what normal rain is.

Dr. John M. Ware
February 4, 2013 5:44 pm

Here in central Virginia we had a sort of late-summer drought a few years ago (2004? 5? not sure), and then Tropical Storm Gaston came through (“After you, Alphonse!” “Oh, by no means! After you, Gaston!”) and sat over the Richmond metro until it emptied itself. Here at the house we got 16″ of rain in four hours. I partly floated home from work. It was my job to decide, that late evening, whether to continue to have classes or to dismiss. I went at first by 6 p.m. news predictions that the rain would come down heavily but move quickly on out, so I kept classes in session until I got a call from a student trying to get to class who had to be rescued from rising flood waters on a state highway. At this point, thinking of my own long trip home as well as problems likely for my students and faculty, I formally dismissed the evening classes. The drive home was unbelievable, sort of like driving through one of those car-wash machines, only in my case for 30 miles, much of it on country roads, with no visibility, huge overwashes of rapidly-moving water across the roads, and a constant roar of rain pounding the roof. I had already soaked myself thoroughly getting into the car (which developed some leaks on the way home that I have not seen since), and just getting from car to house–maybe 30 feet–I was totally soaked again. An hour later the rain stopped, and an hour after that the moon and stars were out. Parts of downtown Richmond were deeply flooded, but our property, which has a Civil War trench as its eastern boundary, took the water as a nice drink. We got four months’ worth of rain in an evening, and a story to tell for a long time. Amazingly, we did not lose power.

February 4, 2013 5:48 pm

@corio37 says:
February 4, 2013 at 3:51 pm
I wrote this last week, before the announcement — but I didn’t expect it to be proven so correct, so soon. Original at http://religiousatrocities.wordpress.com/2013/01/29/uk-a-meteorological-officers-lament/
Spot on! Thanks.

February 4, 2013 6:07 pm

Crazily, in Seattle we did have a new kind of rain, ending nearly a week ago. The U. of WA meteorologist was on the radio saying that the rain was falling as a misty drizzle from water in low-lying clouds rather than the typical pattern of ice crystals falling from higher clouds and melting on their way down. He called it warm rain and said it was unusual for it to have persisted for so long.

February 4, 2013 6:08 pm

Off topic, but I notice that the NORSEX sea ice data hasn’t been updated since 15 January. Anybody know what’s going on there?

February 4, 2013 6:15 pm

Hmmm…Lord Smith, formerly Chris Smith. Maybe I’m just uninformed (being from the U.S.) or I’m overly pessimistic (more likely)… but I suspect Prince Charles had a hand in getting this guy his “lord-dom” (or whatever it’s called).

john robertson
February 4, 2013 6:26 pm

He said a new kind of rain?. Or is every failure of those beloved computer models giving the faithful a new kind of pain?
Is the good lord getting nervous?
Truth and exposure cause scammers all kinds of pain.

February 4, 2013 6:44 pm

“The weather is highly unpredictable and presents new challenges…”
Judging from the photo, the veritable Lord has the thousand yard stare of a the disingenuous.
As for the challenges …the challenge of another transparent money grab, the challenge of a model that is predictive, the challenge of meeting a direct gaze, the challenge of convincing the ever growing number of unconvinced….life is tough in the ivory tower.

February 4, 2013 6:59 pm

My old fashioned barometer is more accurate than some of the weather predictions. Maybe their barometers are next to the central heating unit? LOL

February 4, 2013 7:18 pm

“The weather is highly unpredictable…” but you should reduce your standard of living by reducing your carbon dioxide output because our predictions say so.

lurker passing through, laughing
February 4, 2013 7:38 pm

The funniest part of this sort of AGW desperation is that the hypesters think they are being clever.
Everything has to be reinvented to support their kookiness.

February 4, 2013 7:41 pm

Another one who is using the climate change bag of all tricks to mask his own ignorance… and MSM help him peddle his stuff. Typical.

February 4, 2013 7:44 pm

Rain is … what rain does.
Fool !

Crispin in Waterloo
February 4, 2013 7:46 pm

It seems to me Smith got off to a misdirected start: He said that the prediction was for drought and the reality was heavy rain. He blames this on the suddenly changing weather patterns. Why does he not blame his surprise on the obviously useless weather forecasting service?? It is not that the weather was completely unprecedented, after all it happened previously only 100 years ago. What was unprecedented was blaming human CO2 emissions instead of a useless weather prognostication ‘service’ for the failure of the summer to be warm and dry as they vainly imagined.
It is unlikely to change, isn’t it, if they keep funnelling money into a bottomless pit of ineptitude. When it comes to the Met Office getting things totally wrong for a whole season, you can bet on three months more of the same with a 30% chance of intermittent lucky coincidence.

February 4, 2013 7:57 pm

a new kind of rain? why, it’s CHUBBY RAIN!!!! “Got you, Sucka!!!!”
okay, you gotta be a fan of “Bowfinger”.

Richard G
February 4, 2013 8:25 pm

One day it started raining and it didnt quit for 4 months
we’ve been through every kind of rain there is
a little bit of stinging rain
and big ol fat rain
rain that flew in sideways
and sometimes rain seemed to come straight up from underneath- Forest Gump

February 4, 2013 8:51 pm

My under developed inner statistician wonders the correlation between green hair and the belief that convection is a new kind or rain anywhere.

February 4, 2013 9:45 pm

The beauty of “extreme weather” is the new weather records are being set all the time – thus the weather must be getting more extreme. No one stops to think the reason we see new records is because we haven’t been measuring weather very long in geological terms. Eventually if you throw a coin long enough it will come up heads 5, 6, 7, or more times in a row. Does 10 heads in a row mean the coin has become “extreme”? Or is it simply the nature of the coin? How do we know that global warming (or the current global lull) is anything more than the luck of the toss?

February 4, 2013 10:09 pm

And when next summer turns out to be “extremely” dry, it will be a new kind of dry, even if it is not unusually warm (or it is even unusually cool). Any which way, a win for the AGW intelligentsia.

February 4, 2013 10:18 pm

It seems to be a deeply held article of faith with the climate catastropharians , that there will be no more rain/snow and that any that happens after their proclamation is the wrong sort of rain/snow,

Dave Grogan
February 4, 2013 10:22 pm

Naive question, perhaps. Has a copy of this excellent analysis been sent to Lord Smith with an invitation to reply or is he just expected to look it up for himself? I would expect the former and would look forward to hearing his comments even if it were only “No comment!”.
Dave G

Mike Bromley the Canucklehead back in Kurdistan but actually in Switzerland
February 4, 2013 10:35 pm

I love how the portraiture of Lawdy Smith shows him in thoughtful pose…like the “Thinker”. Yea, verily, one smells a rat.

February 4, 2013 11:04 pm

“On the night of Saturday 31 January 1953 and morning of 1 February 1953 a storm swept down the east coast of Britain. Sea levels rose by as much as 3 metres and coastal defences were overwhelmed. Over 1,000 sq km were innundated and 326 people were killed. Some 30,000 people had to be evacuated and another 220 were lost at sea. It was Britain’s greatest peace time disaster.”
The Guardian has given the Great Storm some elaborate 60th birthday coverage, with photos. It is being raised, of course, in the context of Climate Change alarms, and warnings of those “extremes” to come.
It does not occur to the writers or readers of The Guardian that non-Guardian types (me!) might ask the simple and obvious question: “If it’s change, why is it old?” Similarly, when that NZ “climate scientist” warned his nation of scorching temps last week (didn’t happen), we weren’t supposed to ask the obvious: “Why was NZ’s hottest temp recorded 40 years ago?”
It’s very contorted spin: you talk about old climate disasters to evoke new climate disasters…which have not happened yet, but which are proof of change.
The spin is worse than we thought, everything else is as good or as crappy as it always was.

February 4, 2013 11:39 pm

I expect that he would have said similar things about the weather in 1975-6……..
…..it’s just the weather! Nothing new, move on!

February 5, 2013 12:14 am

I have to deal with some of the folks in the EA – and they are all fairly sensible people. Smith is obviously out of his depth and about as knowledgeable about climate as a tadpole. Even the Met Office accepts that the wet weather has been as a result of an unusual Jet stream configuration – unusual, as in not normal – but exceptional, definately not.

February 5, 2013 12:19 am

The green hair – a result of hard water and copper pipes, surely. So fitting, though. That is commitment to the cause.

February 5, 2013 12:51 am

What year was the rain correct?

February 5, 2013 1:04 am

Following the “Wrong type of snow” led me to this quote:
” Other specialists in the matter of Eskimoan languages and their knowledge of snow and especially (now endangered) sea ice, refute this notion and defend Boas’s original fieldwork amongst the Inuit of Baffin island.[3]”
Yeah, wrong snow and endangered sea ice! I guess that’s the ice the endangered Churchill Polars Bears wait for?

Peter Fraser
February 5, 2013 1:16 am

Wow 240 odd years of rainfall data and there has been no need to make “corrections”. No rain shadow or poorly calibrated rain gauges, of course I forgot only temperature data needs “correcting” .

February 5, 2013 1:35 am

Peter Miller is far too kind.
Smith is an absolute pillock.

February 5, 2013 2:07 am

Smith is the type of politician that manages to rise up a mountain of their own incompetency.
If he told you the time of day you still check for yourself to see he just not got its horrible wrong.

February 5, 2013 2:17 am

I was born in 1964 and the only extreme weather I have experienced in the UK was “the Great Storm” – but that was way back in 1987. That’s 25 years ago.

February 5, 2013 2:41 am

We should be careful here, this has nothing to do with any fault of the Met Office.
What Chris Smith said was totally contradicted by the weather as recorded by them. This was the Met Office doing what it is supposed to do, recording the weather and predicting it over the next 5 days, which it is actually rather good at.
What it is clearly not good at is predicting seasonal weather or the “climate”, but then again nobody has proved to be any good at that so far.
I have no idea where Baron Smith of Finsbury got the bizarre idea that the UK had suddenly been transported to the equator but it was not from the Met Office!

February 5, 2013 2:52 am

“New type of rain”? Hardly. Scotland has more types of rain than the Eskimos have for snow. The type that Lord Smith describes – which sits in one place and just dumps itself in a deluge over a long period of time – we know as “summer”.

John Marshall
February 5, 2013 3:05 am

He must be right, he has a PhD, in Wordsworth, but then Pachauri has a PhD in economics and he’s a climate scientist!!!!
I don’t think ”convective” rain is new even here in the UK. Smith should go back to reading Wordsworth and wandering lonely as a cloud looking for daffs.

Larry Geiger
February 5, 2013 3:55 am

mPaul, you made my day! Actually my week. I’ll be smiling all day…

February 5, 2013 4:02 am

Head of the IPA? Why is a non-scientist in that job? As usual it`s jobs for the boys – that is, failed politicians. It also sums up the poor quality politicians we have in the UK these days: some now proven to have been economical with the truth; others introducing policies not in their election manifestos (that is, fraud). Alas, they (politicians) seem to be the same everywhere.

A C Osborn
February 5, 2013 4:10 am

Further to the post by
mfo says:
February 4, 2013 at 4:39 pm
Smith is trying to hide the real facts of the matter.
1. Massively increased population since the 50s.
2. Privatised water companies not building any new water storing Reservoirs and not fixing leaks in delivery pipes.
3. Building on Flood Plains.
4. No dredging of rivers.
5. Inadequate maintenance and cleaning of Drainage.
6. The latest FAD for “Low Maintenance” gardens which do not allow water to Soak away.
7. Very little improvement in Flood Defenses.
8. Wholesale acceptance of “AGW”, it will only get hotter and drier, We were told we would have a Mediterranean climate.
All failings of the Environment Agency.
You should have seen the public’s Comments on the Daily Mail article on this subject.
And today the Water Companies announce a 3.5% increase in Prices.

Heather Brown (aka Dartmoor resident)
February 5, 2013 5:20 am

Drought followed by above average rainfall is nothing new in the UK. In 1976 (or around then) I lived in Kent – that’s in the far south-east and one of the driest parts of England. Our average annal rainfall was about 26 inches. By late August we had had only 7 inches of rain, a hosepipe ban lasting for months and months, and even the big trees were dying. The drought broke at the end of August and by the end of the year we had had more than our average annual rainfall..
I don’t remember anyone making any great song and dance about `global weirding’ (or equivalent then, just worry about the dry conditions and what it was doing to crops and trees.
So nothing much has changed except the rhetoric – after all, if anything it was worry about global cooling and the sea freezing up around Kent in those days.

February 5, 2013 5:26 am

Dave says:
February 4, 2013 at 6:15 pm
Hmmm…Lord Smith, formerly Chris Smith. Maybe I’m just uninformed (being from the U.S.) or I’m overly pessimistic (more likely)… but I suspect Prince Charles had a hand in getting this guy his “lord-dom” (or whatever it’s called).
No, nothing whatever to do with Prince Charles. Life peerages are handed out by the government of the day, and are commonly give to retiring MPs who’ve been government ministers – it’s a way of getting lapdogs into the House of Lords.
One thing is for sure, Smith certainly didn’t get to be head of the EA on merit, he was a political shoe-in.

Chris Wright
February 5, 2013 5:28 am

“I’d have just said, ‘No, that sort of extreme weather does not happen here in Britain.’ Increasingly, it does.”
What utter rubbish. When a drought breaks it’s often followed by heavy rain. And if you look back over the last few centuries, the weather was so extreme that, during the Little Ice Age, many witches were burned for the crime of ‘weather cooking’. There were storms that each killed around 100,000 people. In the UK and globally, we are fortunate to live in unusually benign conditions. But if the climate starts to get colder, that may quickly change.
On shorter time scales, it seems the UK experienced a period of low rainfall for several decades until recently. If there has been a recent increase in rainfall it’s probably more a case of the weather returning to the more long-term averages. That period of low rainfall may well have deluded the planners into thinking that it’s okay to build houses on flood plains.
Meanwhile, another Chris has been in the news: Chris Huhne. Huhne was previously the UK energy and climate change minister, and shares a lot of the blame for covering our country with those monstrous windmills that don’t work most of the time, and for forcing up the cost of energy in the name of the climate change religion. Yesterday he pleaded guilty to the serious charge of perverting the course of justice. From the comments of the judge, it seems certain he will go to jail.
Extraordinary text messages between Huhne and his son have been released. It seems clear that even his son hated him. It’s certainly good to see that, for once, true justice has been served.

February 5, 2013 5:55 am

It’s all very simple really. Even Orcas get confused by a new kind of ice-http://www.voanews.com/content/canada-killer-whales-climate-change/1582342.html

February 5, 2013 5:56 am

Roger Harrabin managed to slip a “weird weather” comment into a BBC report on Breakfast News a week or so ago, talking about water companies and infrastructure in the UK.

February 5, 2013 5:56 am

It isn’t the ‘wrong’ kind of rain. He is just making excuses for the inadquate maintenance of our rivers, streams and drainage. Cockermouth suffered a couple of years ago because their two converging rivers had not been dredged for years. The recent rain didn’t cause floods there recently as those rivers have now been dredged. Our local stream (called a ‘beck’) in North Yorkshire hasn’t been properly cleared and there were floods in late September. The build-up of rubble, silt and plant life in the rubble and silt is going to cause even more trouble the next time. The EA have not enough staff (the ones I’ve met are good people) to do the work properly nor adequate funding for it. Local farmers should be paid to keep drainage ditches clear. The costs of flood damage are enormous, not just in human misery.

February 5, 2013 6:32 am

These are the sort of people who are supposed to be representing us; ensuring our safety and security; moulding our legislation – and all the other stuff that they’re supposed to be doing…
‘A new kind of rain”’ – oh, someone please put him out of his misery…

Pamela Gray
February 5, 2013 6:51 am

This guy is an idiot. He has probably never fished a mountain stream or touched an irrigation shovel. He doesn’t know rain from spit.

David Chappell
February 5, 2013 6:58 am

Perhaps it’s time for a new kind of politician – one with a brain.

February 5, 2013 7:41 am

This year taught us that Lord Smith’s cognitive impairment is getting more extreme.

February 5, 2013 8:00 am

In Oz with our ‘There shall be no carbon tax under a Govt I lead’ backflipping PM just announcing the next election date in Sept and nosediving in the polls, the usual suspects have come crawling out of the woodwork to shore up their grants as you’d expect.That’s because there seems to be some confusion about SE Australia’s new kind of cool wet summer and naturally Climate Change cannot be ruled ou and not to worry folks because it’s all ‘consistent with scientists’ knowledge and understanding of how the climate is changing in the long term’-
But wait folks there’s more-
Well you do have to cover all the bases, but have quick scroll down the public comments section to see the public’s thoughts on the matter when they’re not censored within those sheltered workshop walls and they’ll warm the cockles of any real scientist’s heart here.

February 5, 2013 8:17 am

Annie says:
February 5, 2013 at 5:56 am
I think they do have enough staff (as in chiefs)- but not enough indians. On a more serious note, I should like to point out that clearing streams, rivers and channels can drastically affect the flow regime in a given catchment area and is not necessarily the cause of the flooding problems. People sometimes think that clearing a stream bed helps – but in many cases, all it does is increase the flow rate away from that section and into another section. In effect, they just move the problem from one place to another further downstream.
For the layperson it is analagous to lots of small roads feeding into a motorway system. (Indeed, we often see the town planner cock ups here in the UK, whereby they put a lovely new by-pass into place, but then it terminates at a roundabout or traffic light interchange at the rejoining end of the ‘former’ road – thereby creating a massive bottleneck – all that really happens is the cars get to the bottleneck quicker, where they are slowed down again!) The smaller (slower) roads restrict traffic flow (i.e.hold up) the traffic before it reaches the motorway. If entry flow is too great – the motorway cannot cope and a bigger problem ensues – in this analogy, basically much worse downstream flooding.
Put it another way, with superfast ‘cleared’ channels for the water – a whole lot of minor tributary flooding is suddenly transferred downstream into a major rapid influx and major flooding incident.
The reason I make this point is simply to correct the often misplaced assumption that blocked channels are the cause of the majority of flooding, when in reality, it is sometimes the action of efficient water channeling (from A to B) that causes a good deal of problems in the first place! Simple little changes can cause local hydrographic regimes to change significantly – and too many folk cannot see this! I have seen many cases of complaints from householders saying they need the streams/channels cleared but they don’t realise it simply ‘moves the problem on’ – it doesn’t actually solve it. It would be far more practical to look ‘upstream’ and see if there are places where rivers/streams can be widened or weired to restrict downstream flow rates.
Hope that makes sense………

Dave Clemo
February 5, 2013 8:37 am

Failed NuLab politician Lord Chris Smith has also conveniently forgotten to add that the Agency he heads up no longer dredges the rivers that are supposed to be their responsibility. Every time the fields flood then soil is washed into the rivers. This silting up of the rivers must reduce their capacity. Also- the local authorities where I live appear to have stopped sweeping the streets in the autumn(fall). Even now I see clumps of rotting leaves blocking the drains. I’ve lost count of the number of drains with quite woody growth poking through the grills. The old National Rivers Authority took more care of the rivers, but then got swallowed up by the EA who seem content to wash their hands of our flood defences.

A C Osborn
February 5, 2013 8:53 am

Kev-in-Uk says:
February 5, 2013 at 8:17 am
But if you clear away the restrictions where it causes flooding to Humans and move it to flooding fields and empty areas it has to be better than leaving them as they are.
If you unblock it all the way to the sea or syphon it off in to new Reservoirs it would be even better.

February 5, 2013 9:36 am

A C Osborn says:
February 5, 2013 at 8:53 am
Yes and no. Firstly, before we talk about flooding affecting humans, let’s remember what can be expected when building too close to a river, or on a floodplain! Now, we all know how variable the weather is, and we all know how powerful nature can be – so I ask you, in all honesty – what do you think of people that build on floodplains? And, on the presumption that you are a Brit, how do you feel about your insurance premiums rising to pay for that kind of idiotic behaviour? (/rant!)
Moving on, when a flow regime is changed – it will have some effect somewhere else. There is no getting away from it. Some people simply don’t grasp that X cubic metres of rainwater will spread out over Y metres of area at a given depth (X/Y), that area can be, as you say, large fields, or concentrated into deep sided ‘flood defense’ type systems.
As for the moving to flooding fields and stuff, yes, but that is partly the purpose of dams and weirs in upper tributary areas, to be able to restrict flow rates allowed downstream. In the old days, when weirs and water mills were functioning, water was ‘restricted’ in upper valley areas, kept in Mill ponds, or allowed to flood fields, etc, etc. I have been to many places, e.g. the upper Lune Valley, and seen the large levees constructed to protect the farmers fields too! Lucky farmers = unlucky residents further downstream!
Then you have actual urban development itself, whereby hardcover surfaces, roof and driveway, roads, etc – water is collected and funnelled direct to the nearest watercourse. Previously, this water may have taken days to filter through the ground naturally via soakaways and into the watercourses. This has major effects on river ecosystems and suchlike, as instead of a continuous baseflow, streams and rivers can dry up in dry months and run like rapids in wet months. These are all environmental changes contributing to the problem. In the UK for the last few years, we have SUDS (Sustainable Underground Drainage Systems) imposed to try and restore some of this imbalance during new construction whereby all rainfall (called surface water) has to be discharged into the ground where feasible.
You cannot, realistically, ”unblock all the way to the sea” either. Firstly, flow rates would change and this could cause scour rates (i.e. erosion) and silt depositional rates to change significantly, again, perhaps somewhere else in the river ‘chain’. I think it is important to remember that river systems are (or rather were) natural entities, and in a nutshell, any changes along them have a knock on effect somewhere else! (think of Newtons 3rd Law, and apply it here). In the UK, we have basically built up/over and around the majority of rivers and streams and have significantly altered the water regimes thereabouts. My overall point being that blaming the EA for not clearing the local streams and rivers is far too simple a view and demonstrates an inherent failure of understanding! (sorry, but that is the truth – although I don’t doubt that in some cases, local clearing would have helped!)

Mickey Reno
February 5, 2013 11:31 am

Some hilariously funny replies here… thanks for those. I have to single out the American Pie lyrics and the Bowfinger Chubby Rain answers in particular. My contribution to the hilarity is my name for this new rain…
Piltdown Rain.

UK John
February 5, 2013 12:15 pm

Chris Smith head of the Environment Agency.
Like a fly trapped in Amber, you just wonder how the devil it got there!

February 5, 2013 3:25 pm

A new kind of rain in post-war Toronto, and what they did about it.
Global Warming, or whatever you call it, makes a cameo appearance near the end.

Billy Liar
February 5, 2013 4:29 pm

Pamela Gray says:
February 5, 2013 at 6:51 am
This guy is an idiot. He has probably never fished a mountain stream or touched an irrigation shovel. He doesn’t know rain from spit.
He’s not an idiot; he’s got a first class degree in English and a PhD with a thesis on Wordsworth and Coleridge from Cambridge University. He’s climbed all the Munros (282 mountains over 3,000ft in Scotland) so he will have undoubtedly experienced every variety of rain it’s possible to have in the UK. But, he is a socialist apparatchik with long experience of toeing the party line. I doubt very much whether he has much technical understanding of environmental matters but I could be wrong.

Pamela Gray
February 5, 2013 5:23 pm

I do believe there have been more than one or two “researchers” who have ended up being wild animal scat. They’re still idiots. Don’t care how many letters they have after their names or what university they have attended. Because you have book learnin and have climbed mountains doesn’t mean squat when it comes to climate science. Try a life time of dry land farming till you are too tired and worn out to enjoy retirement. Live through natural wet and dry climate cycles if you are so blessed or cursed. Then write about rain. Till then, it’s just the musings of fools.

Gail Combs
February 5, 2013 5:36 pm

Next The politicians will be telling us it is precipitating OOBLECK!

February 5, 2013 8:05 pm

Obviously a Research Grant Seeker.

Hilary Ostrov (aka hro001)
February 5, 2013 10:50 pm

johanna says: February 4, 2013 at 4:38 pm

“new kind of” is the latest meme. It is part of the ever-changing, shape-shifting global calamity gravy train. For example, in Australia we have been told that there is now a “new kind of” heat, after a fairly typical summer heatwave.
Do they get together and discuss these shifting terminological inexactitudes, or does it just happen by mitosis?

My hypothesis is that it is more likely to have been caused by mememitosis and/or climitosis. Two challenging conditions which are often manifested by those who are terminally afflicted with climate hypochondria [h/t Eduardo Zorita] 😉
Hilary Ostrov [recovering from a recent reading of Lewandowsky’s Latest Ludicrous (aka LLL™) exercise in self-exculpatory, post-modernist poppycock]

richard verney
February 6, 2013 2:45 am

“It is not surprising that Smith attempts to connect last year’s rainfall with climate change, particularly when he is responsible for the UK’s flood defences and the problems experienced last year.”
As I vave been saying for a long time Climate change (AGW) has for a long time been used as an excuse to cover up poor management.
For a long time, we have experienced water shortages in the South of England. This has been blamed on Climate change/AGW. Constantly, the BBC (who obtain their information from the Met Office) and MSM have been carrying the mantra that Climate change/AGW is leading to less rain and that the UK will in the future experience drought conditions which as the years pass will become more extreme. Yet this runs contrary to the Met Office rainfall data. There is no statistical difference in rainfall quantities these past 20 or so years and to the extent that there is some difference, the UK is experiencing slightly more rainfall than 30 years ago. The Met Office is now admitting that and there is now a change in mantra that we will experience more floods due to imcreased rainfall.
The past mantra was being used to explain water shortages and hose pipe bans in the south, which is due to immigration (an inflx of maybe upto 10 million more people in the south partly migration from north to south but largely immagration) which has placed much more demand on water resources and yet in the past 25 years not one single new reservoir has been built to meet this increased demand. It is justy poor management.
The mantra has now changed because of the recent floods of the past couple of years. This is due to having built new houses in inappropriate places (on river flood plains). These new developments have experienced some flooding because they are built on flood plains, but also some of these new developments have flood defences which has resulted in flood water finding a different escape route so that there is now a change in the location of flood plains. This latter point, which is a subtle point, is often overlooked. Some towns that have not experienced flooding for a 100 years are experiencing flooding today because of new developments built downstream which new developments have flood defences causing the river to back up and flood in places which were not previously part of the flood plain. again this is poor management.
In public office, no one takes responsibility for their actions and poor decision making. The UK government wants to cover up the effects and costs of immigration and to do this it relies upon climate change /AGW as an excuse for water shortages. Now that concern has shifted from water shortage to floods, which have largely been caused by planning decisions, it uses the climate change/AGW mantra as an excuse for the floods. It will never admit the truth, namely that because of immigration we need some new reservoirs and that we have stupidly built new homes (the need for which is largely the result of immigration) in inappriate places.
as the data shows, there is nothing extraordinary about the recent UK rainfall. It is and has always been very variable. a country like the UK (surrounded by oceans with wet moist air coming accross its shores no matter from which direction the wind blows) always will have copious amounts of rainfall. It will not suffer water shortages and it is merely a question of good water management (in which I include river management and not building on floodplains and not putting up defences that will result in the alteration of flood plain patterns to the prejudice of existing connubations).

richard verney
February 6, 2013 2:58 am

A C Osborn says:
February 5, 2013 at 4:10 am
Had not seen this when I made my post.
Bang On.
Smith’s comments are no more than the usual weasel words of politicians covering up their gross incompetence. Regretably nothing cjhanges, and will not change until there is true accountability of public servants. The law should create a new offence of dereliction of duty and gross negligence in and about the discharge of public office. This should carry with it financial ramifications.
I find it absolutely astounding that when the Climate Change Act came to be debated in Parliament, only a handful of MPs could be troubled to turn up and deabte it. This is the second most costly piece of peace time legislation (only behind the welfare state and NHS) and yet our MPs could not even be troubled to scrutinise it. Talk about dereliction of duty for which the public are now paying a heavy price.
We desperately need accountability i public office. Public servants may then have the knowledge and experience required to discharge their duties and may seriously think about the consequences of their decision making. Both of which would greatly benefit the standard of service delivered. .

February 6, 2013 5:28 am

The problem is that idiots like Chris Smith fall for the: ‘Well, I’VE never seen anything like it IN MY LIFETIME..’ trap…
Your lifetime, matey, is like a teaspoon in the Atlantic in terms of the earth’s climate – so don’t talk such piffle…

Eric Huxter
February 7, 2013 12:35 am

He was also President of the Cambridge Union (Debating Society).
Although an English specialist he clearly discounts Chaucer as a source
Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote
The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Geoffrey Chaucer , The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales (1387 – 1400)

Green Sand
February 10, 2013 3:34 am

“A geography lesson for the Environment Agency chief”
“Baron Smith of Finsbury, perhaps better known as Chris Smith, the Labour politician, was widely quoted in the news media last week…..”We are experiencing a new kind of rain…instead of rain sweeping in a curtain across the country, we are getting convective rain, which sits in one place and dumps itself in a deluge over a long period of time.”
He is quite wrong, of course, but there the matter would rest, were it not that Lord Smith is Chairman of the Environment Agency and therefore should know everthing there is to know about rain and floods. Or least should have minions to prevent him from making such a fundamental error.
If he had studied for geography A level in the in 1969 or 1970, Lord Smith would have had it drummed into him that there are three types of rain, “frontal”, “orographic”, and “convective”. Convective rainfall events form the majority of summer rainstorms in Britain, and always have done. Nothing new about them at all…..”
Philip Eden
Past president of the Royal Meteorological Society
In today’s print version of the Sunday Telegraph, can’t find a link.

February 10, 2013 7:05 pm

The Environment Agency is diseased… and seemingly incapable of transparency and honesty.
We’ve had a gut-full via
The UK High Court,
Parliament – House of Commons,
The UK Information Commissioner (FoI),
The UK Parliamentary Ombudsman and much else…
An Absolute Shower of Hubris
We’ve tried to communicate with Mr. Smith about the misdeeds of his minions – but he’s far too grand to even bother responding to worker ants.

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