The Great Tunisian Flood of 1969


By Paul Homewood

The 1973 floods in Tunisia were the second such disaster in just four years:

In fact the 1969 floods were even more deadly, killing 540.

The USGA later published this report:

The sheer size of the area affected was itself astonishing, with most of Tunisia seriously affected and even Algeria too.

Back in 1969, scientists knew the floods were a meteorological phenomenon. Nowadays so-called scientists just lazily blame them on climate change, and demand we change our lifestyles to prevent them in future.

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James Snook
September 18, 2023 10:10 am

The Guardian would be absolutely drooling if similar events happened today. It would be impossible for them to contain their glee!

Ron Long
September 18, 2023 10:13 am

Good report by Paul. I have seen two examples of 100 year floods, one in Oregon and one in New Mexico, and it was surprising how damaging they were. Floods with thousands of years frequency would be staggering, and shirley would overcome any local flood-control measures. Would someone look up “chotts” and “oueds” as I fear they are disturbing words. Thanks.

Rick C
Reply to  Ron Long
September 18, 2023 10:30 am

Chott – a salt water lake that is dry most of the time.
Oued – Wadi, arroyo, dry steam or channel in arid area that channels water when it rains.

Reply to  Rick C
September 18, 2023 10:37 am

Are you sure those are warlock names? Anyway, I think it’s still the fault of witches, especially when it gets really cold.

Reply to  Rick C
September 18, 2023 11:21 am

> Chott – a salt water lake that is dry most of the time.

Aka Central California.

Rick C
Reply to  Giving_Cat
September 18, 2023 12:52 pm

Ya, eg Black Rock Desert.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Giving_Cat
September 18, 2023 12:53 pm

wasn’t that area a sea sometime in the not too distant past, geologically speaking?

Reply to  Ron Long
September 18, 2023 11:41 am

Mitchell Oregon had THREE catastrophic floods, but they rebuild and go on despite the OBVIOUS flood plain.


Reply to  Ron Long
September 18, 2023 3:19 pm

Most local major drainage systems are designed to cope with a nominal ARI of 0.01 (ie 1 in 100 year event)

Minor drainage , ie pipes and gutters, are designed to either 2 year or 5 year event.

Of course, not many places have accurate data, so the size of a 1:100 year event is a statistical calculation, often with a rather large margin of error attached.

Designing major drainage for larger events costs a lot more money to build and uses a lot more land area.

If you build at housing etc built close to the 100 year flood level… its gunna get wet !!

Even using what is referred to as the PMF.. (probable maximum flood) can have a significant risk factor.

September 18, 2023 11:06 am

By looking at the floods of prehistoric times, for which the only records are left by the floods themselves … the largest floods of the quartenary period, floods from ice-dammed lakes, basin-breach floods, floods related to volcanism, floods from breached landslide dams, ice-jam floods, large meteorological floods, one would “think” that, floods, landscapes and hazards are something “new” and that “flood epochs” due to to natural climate and topography combined frequencies have never excisted as spillovers before the headline in the MSM of the day.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  MB1978
September 18, 2023 12:57 pm

I read a book a few decades ago which speculated that the Black Sea is now much bigger than it had been as a result of the Mediterannean flooding into it. I think sometime like 10-15K years ago? And of course the Tigris and Euphrates has had massive floods. Geologists have studied the flood plain deposits.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
September 18, 2023 1:17 pm

By looking at the paradox of the “leeve effect” based on human ingenuity and engieneering one should think that the first question that should falls to mind is, how is the maintance survailed and or improved in the area(s) of risk and how good is the flood database.

September 18, 2023 11:48 am

Great Flood of 1862


Historic California Floods in Photos
From the Great Flood of 1862 to the winter 2017 soaking rains in Northern California, take a look back at some of the state’s major floods.


J Boles
September 18, 2023 11:53 am

That flood in Libya recently, I was examining the dry river channel under the dams, google maps, there were buildings in the river bed! Go ahead and build, this is a desert, it never rains.

Reply to  J Boles
September 18, 2023 9:01 pm

You MUST be quoting their leading politicians, who demonstarte yet again that they do not appreciate the importance of considering public safety before all else. Much more inportant than trying to gain favour at the ballot-box (if that exists) by granting everyone an extra week’s holiday!

Steve Case
September 18, 2023 11:55 am

You can Google “The Flood of 1900, The Flood of 1901, The Flood of 1902, The Flood of 1903″ and so on to the “The Flood of 2023” and find that there’s a flood some where every year.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Steve Case
September 18, 2023 11:58 am

Most recently “The Great Burning Man Flood”. 😎

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Gunga Din
September 18, 2023 1:01 pm

they should change the name to The Great Drowning Man Flood – incorporate that theme into their next event

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
September 18, 2023 6:58 pm

The burning man actually happens at the end . A massive ‘thing’ is set on fire at the end. Hippies love that sort of thing

Gunga Din
Reply to  Steve Case
September 18, 2023 12:28 pm

Here in the US, go your local National Weather Service site. Many, if not all, will have a link to “Rivers and Lakes”. Click in that.
Pick a river or lake and a gauging station. If it’s been in place for a awhile and has a history, it may also have a list of historic crest.
Here’s the station upstream of the water plant I worked at below the dam built in 1955.
Here’s the Ohio River at Cincinnati.

Reply to  Gunga Din
September 18, 2023 5:52 pm

I live in the Dallas area. I check the local weather almanac often and am never surprised that the date’s record high temperatures are early to mid last century. Back in June the local weathermen were giddy that we tied a record high of 109°F so I checked the almanac. The record tied was set in 1911. In 1911 there was no airport, the recording station was in the country miles north of the city center. There were few autos, few multistory buildings, no freeways, no a/c and the population was 90k.
I reckon there must have been consideralbly more livestock flatulence

Gunga Din
Reply to  czechlist
September 19, 2023 10:49 am

TheWayBackMachine is useful for comparisons between what the records were then and what they are now.
I compared my local record highs and lows for each date using 2007 vs 2012.
About 10% were changed.
I don’t mean just a new, say, record high broke the 2007 record but that the old record high was higher than the new record high for a particular date. Sometimes the year it was set was changed. Sometimes they still had the year but the temp was raised or lowered.
I’d put up the table but “pre” doesn’t seem to work right.

Peta of Newark
September 18, 2023 12:28 pm

Nothing much to see here, apart from:

  • Tunisia is a desert- this sort of stuff is to be expected
  • Tunisia is a superbly interesting place – everyone should go there at least once – not least for the Roman history/architecture/ruins

I’ve been twice, just for a fortnight’s holiday – in ’85 and ’87

The beach/sea at Hammamet is something else. Walk out into the water, it is bath-tub warm and you can keep going for 500+ yards and it never gets more than a metre deep. Perfectly flat level soft sand all the way. It must be insanely salty also, roll onto your back and you’re unsinkable – like a rubber duck

Now the really interesting coincidences kick in.
2nd time I was there would have been this almost exact time of year, 2nd or 3rd week of September
Had been tempted previously but this time took the plunge on the bus-trip down to Medenine and Tataouine to ‘see the desert‘ and have a ride on a real camel = 3 days and 2 nights

All very lovely but on the way back, barely ¼ of the way (note the time of year I mentioned) – the sky went black and it started raining. Not hard, just gentle constant drizzle
The restrained panic in the bus crew was palpable but for us Englishers/ Tourists, so what?
It was just a bit of drizzle.

Then the sandy plain that stretched out either side of the bus became a lake.
We came to a ‘bridge’ = some 12″ concrete pipes that the road ran over and 2 or 3 of them were missing.
We all had to get out, unload everything and push the coach over this thing.

Me, as the Cumbrian Farmer simply couldn’t believe or understand it – the water we were all paddling in was only an inch or so deep but the bus was (nearly) stuck……and water stretched as far as you could see and had destroyed the road!
Just what?
We made it back to Hammamet to be told we had to leave early and via Tunis airport – our intended/planned/scheduled at Monastir was washed out.
The rain we travelled through was just torrential.

NB: Early/Mid September = exactly when Hurricane Daniel happened and not long after ‘Palermo’

Prior to that on the previous visit, the pair of us liked to sit on the hotel roof-balcony of an evening – to take in the sounds/smells/vibe of the town below.
Only a 2 storey hotel, as most buildings were.
Again: as The Farmer, what happened was fascinating.
Around 8 in the evening, maybe every other evening, we could see on the far south east horizon a lightning storm.
But not any Lightning Storm – the thing that struck up was crazy wild – like a room full of Tesla coils all going off at once.
Was the storm out over the sea or was it happening inland?
Flash after flash after flash all overlapping each other. Constant blizzard of light.
But there was deathly silence. No thunder, no distant rumble, nothing.

That made it creepy enough but at the same time, a breeze picked up.
And compared to the breeze-less heat of the daytime and early evening – this was straight out of Day After Tomorrow. It was arctic.
=Time to retire inside to a nice little restaurant.
I’d go back up to check on the lightning but it had always gone.

It bothers me to this day – what did actually cause that?
What was going on there?

to be continued – me the farmer again

Peta of Newark
Reply to  Peta of Newark
September 18, 2023 12:51 pm

On the first trip, a puzzle that I had since I was a kid was finally solved.
i.e. What was or is GAFSA
Especially, as a kid I’d be taken to visit my cousin in west Cumbria and the pair of us would sometimes be taken the The Seaside at a place called Silloth.
Silloth is quite a little port/harbour and along the way were these huuuge hangers/sheds with the word GAFSA printed on them in letters 10ft tall and that was all.
So, what was in there, what is GAFSA.
? is is somebody, a trade-name, an acronym, some code for something else. wtf is GAFSA I always wondered.

It transpires that Gafsa is a place in Tunisia and is very notable amongst farmers because:
There is (was – it’s all gone now) a huuuuge Phosphate mine at Gafsa.
And, being the tourist, I found a little train that takes you there and you get a little guidebook to tell what went on.

‘Gafsa’ was a huge inland sea. it was especially notable that it was immensely deep at one end.
But it was not a permanent feature. Over the course of decades, it would gradually fill to its maximum extent and massive amounts of life would flourish in there -especially lots and lots and lots of fish.
Then, over a similar decadal span, it would empty/drain and evaporate away.
But only slowly.
Of course the fish became totally trapped and had to follow the water as it slowly disappeared.
Which it did completely.
The fish then all dried out and decayed, leaving only their bones in the sediment.
THEN, the lake refilled.
Life came back.
Then it drained and the bone pile got bigger
Then it re-filled
Then it drained….
etc etc etc. you get the picture and this went on for absolutely 10’s thousands of years
As we all know, bones are made of Calcium Phosphate and that is why Gafsa became famous amongst farmers around the world as just about The Richest Source of Phosphate fertiliser there ever was.
(A lot like Guano off the Pacific islands where the birds roosted – it also contained masses of Phosphate but was especially loaded with Nitrate)

Anyway, what does that tell anyone (still reading) about The Climate of Tunisia?
(I told you it was interesting didn’t I? it is to me anyway.)

Reply to  Peta of Newark
September 18, 2023 1:53 pm

The Soviets used Hammamet as an anchorage during the 60’s and 70’s. We used to fly surveillance flights from Sigonela every couple of days to see which war ships were there.

I was lucky enough to get to get liberty in Tunis and will never forget the suqs. The wonderful smell of the spices. The upside down building was unique.

September 18, 2023 12:53 pm

Even the Ecologist Magazine reported this :`War crime: NATO deliberately destroyed Libya’s water infrastructure Nafeez Ahmed 14th May 2015
“The deliberate destruction of a nation’s water infrastructure, with the knowledge that doing so would result in massive deaths of the population as a direct consequence, is not simply a war crime, but potentially a genocidal strategy.”
BBC got a Community Note for omitting NATO’s culpability :
This is neither climate-change, nor climate anything.
Tunisia in 1969 had likely nothing like Libya’s water management before 2011 when NATO specifically targeted that for destruction – we see today NATO’s strategy in effect!
All African nations are fully informed.
Anybody have info on Tunisia’s water management infrastructure then

September 18, 2023 1:36 pm

Very nice.

Mike Maguire
September 18, 2023 1:46 pm

This was also at a time of modest global cooling because of the increasing aerosol emissions from industry (real pollution) blocking the sun (1940s-mid 1970s).

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Mike Maguire
September 18, 2023 6:46 pm

It looks like there was a more than modest cooling of about 2.0C from the 1930’s to the 1970’s, in the United States, according to James Hansen.

Here’s the U.S chart (Hansen 1999):

comment image.

I haven’t seen any evidence that SO2 had anything to do with this cooling.

And CO2 didn’t have anything to do with this cooling, either. CO2 was increasing during this time, yet the temperatures cooled. Just the opposite of what global warming alarmists claim should be happening.

Now, the human-caused global cooling crowd rears its head again. I listened to these claims all through the later 1970’s, and never saw one ounce of proof that SO2 is the control knob of the Earth’s atmosphere. The only thing I’ve seen are spurious correlations.

Human SO2 emissions don’t equal a Pinatubo volcanic eruption.

Robert B
September 18, 2023 3:00 pm

The destruction of Roman bridges doesn’t indicate that such floods hadn’t occurred for thousands of years. The Romans were very good engineers using very good concrete. They could have stood up to such floods when new, and maybe even when two thousand years old, if they hadn’t been weakened by such flooding previously.

As Twain wrote “There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.”
It’s not just limited to climate scientists, or at least the ones always quoted as saying.

September 18, 2023 3:10 pm

Roman bridges being washed away indicate a “thousands of years frequency”? Yes, maybe, but also maybe the bridges or the land had changed in the last, say, century. Could vibration from modern equipment have weakened the bridges, for example? And as J Boles points out, there are buildings in the wadis – maybe they and other things were different a century ago. IOW, there could have been similar rainfall since Roman times without the bridges having been washed away.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Mike Jonas
September 19, 2023 5:45 pm

I read the passage as indicating that there were floods 2,000 (and 1,000) years ago that washed out the Roman infrastructure existing at the time. Am I wrong?

September 18, 2023 3:42 pm

Back in 1969, scientists knew the floods were a meteorological phenomenon. Nowadays so-called scientists just lazily blame them on climate change, and demand we change our lifestyles to prevent them in future.

We wouldn’t be that crazy would we?

‘The bottom line is that we don’t know for sure [the cause] – the Antarctic system is complex and poorly sampled,’ Professor Martin Siegert, a glaciologist at the University of Exeter, told MailOnline.  
‘It would be good to have a definitive answer, but it doesn’t actually matter that much. 
‘We certainly can’t afford to assign it to variability as some excuse for not stopping fossil fuel burning – that would be crazy.’ 
Antarctica’s sea-ice levels are at a ‘mind-blowing’ historic low (

Reply to  observa
September 18, 2023 8:41 pm

We certainly can’t afford to assign it to CO2 as some excuse for stopping fossil fuel burning –

… that would be moronic.’ “

Robert B
Reply to  observa
September 18, 2023 11:11 pm

“It’s too early to attribute with certainty the severity of this storm to rising global temperatures.

However, climate change is thought to be increasing the frequency of the strongest medicanes.

Prof Liz Stephens, an expert in climate risks and resilience at Reading University in the UK, says scientists are confident that climate change is supercharging the rainfall associated with such storms.”

About half the rainfall at Derna as in 1945.

Never too early for a G&T nor to spin sh __ about climate change

September 21, 2023 7:42 pm

The Tunisian flood was an example of an Atmospheric River. They have been around for centuries, and always occur during periods of elevated temperatures, as during an El Nino.

The flood occurred on Sept 25, 1969, during the El Nino of 1968 Sep-1970 Mar. The “rivers” drop torrential amounts of rain, apparently randomly, around the globe.

September 23, 2023 4:03 am

Here in the UK our PM held a press conference last week to announce that the Net Zero energy bill that has been going through parliament was to delay some of its ridiculous targets.The proposal was that all new sales of combustion engine vehicles stop in 2030 and all gas domestic heating and cooking to be phased out. So the bulk of our energy supply gas and oil to stop and the national grid will magically give us all lovely clean renewable energy. This whole scenario is absolutely impossible and would propel us back to the dark ages as no way can the bulk of the phased out energy supply from gas and oil be filled by electricity.

Rishi Sunak in his speech several times stated that the hardships imposed on the UK population would not be accepted, he said if we can’t take the British people along with this then net Zero may not be implemented at all. In my view the western globalist controlled Governments realise that revolution could be on the cards with such a draconian fall in living standards and the globalist ousted. However the PM opened his speech with the Libyan flood disasters being attributable to anthropogenic global warming as is every highly spun weather event nowadays.

However this leads me on to the the Derna floods. We all know that in 2012 Obama and Clinton poured billions of dollars into bringing down Gaddafi in what was euphemistically called the ‘Arab Spring’ leaving a once ordered and economically stable country into chaos which is still the situation today. Its said the Derna dams had been almost forgotten about with essential maintenance being neglected. So they were a disaster waiting to happen. I also feel that just like the Biden ordered Nord Stream pipeline sabotage there is also a possibility the two Derna dams met the same fate. Many witnesses in Derna say they heard two very loud explosions just before the deluge of water. Conspiracy rantings ? Yes I truly beiieve that that certain powers that be needed disasters to blame global warming, just like the arson outbreak in out spun global boiling NH summer. I’m also suspicious that the satellite data has been hacked. We are in a civil war we just don’t realise it yet. Anyway my nurse is calling .

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