Posts Tagged ‘rain’

Fourteen severe flood warnings on The Thames

February 10, 2014
Swans wander down a flooded street in Worcester

Swans wander down a flooded street in Worcester

areas at risk of flooding on The Thames

areas at risk of flooding on The Thames

David Cameron with troops on Chesil Beach

David Cameron with troops on Chesil Beach

rail lines flooded

rail lines flooded

Although a lull in the storms, more expected over the coming week, the water levels in The Thames have been rising by the hour, and are expected to continue rising throughout the week.

Today, in Berkshire and Surrey, fourteen severe flood warnings on The Thames. There are also two severe flood warnings in the Somerset Levels.

A severe flood warning is when there is risk to life.

Politicians are playing the blame game, though they have backed off today.

We are still hearing calls for dredging of rivers.

Rivers are dredged and canalised for navigation, not flood management. A river that is allowed to meander, form ox bow lakes, overflow into the flood plain, carries more water, than one that has been dredged.

If were are to point fingers of blame, then it has to be at the politicians.

  • they have failed on climate change
  • they have cut money for flood management
  • they have not spent money wisely

The current floods are due to the exceptional rainfall that has fallen since earlier January.

We have to rewild, re-afforest upstream, re-introduce wolves, lynx and beavers, possibly wild boar, retain water upstream.

Beavers create small pools upstream, slw the flow rate, provide cleaner water, enhance wildlife habitats, increase the number of fish.

Records are available for the Wye Valley since 1936. For seventy years, little change in rainfall, a tripling of the incidence of flooding. Over that period, grubbing up of trees, over-grazing of sheep (both paid for and enforced by EU). Since the late 1990s, there has been a policy of Let Sleeping Logs Lie, of not clearing the streams of fallen woodland debris.

Pickering used to flood, the streams were dredged. Now, trees are toppled over into the streams.

The Pontbren Project, a group of farmers in Wales, took it upon themselves, to re-afforest their land. Instead of grubbing out trees, they are planting shelter belts to be used by the sheep. Instead of expensive straw bedding for the sheep, wood chippings. The bedding then used for compost to grow more trees, a closed cycle. Instead of draining boggy patches, creating ponds.

When the water sheets off the land, it gets as far as the trees, then vanishes, sucked down into the ground by the trees. Land covered in trees will absorb 67 times the water, as land covered in grass.

If only 5% of the land at Pontbren were re-afforested, flooding peaks downstream would be reduced by about 30%. Full reforestation would reduce the peaks by about 50%.

For the residents of Shrewsbury, Gloucester and the other towns experiencing flooding by the Severn, were the catchment areas re-afforested, they would probably not be flooded today.

We know from the tropics, cut down trees, those living downstream get flooded. Why have we not learnt those lessons?

The River Wey, starting to flood Guildford last Friday, running very high through Farnham last Saturday, eventually finds it way into The Thames.

Flood management is not the river, flood management is the area that drains into the river.

Republished on Medium with additional notes.

Wettest in southern England since 1766

February 9, 2014
No one could have predicted these events

No one could have predicted these events

Government Minister Eric Pickles has apologised unreservedly to the people of the Somerset Levels.

We made a mistake, there’s no doubt about that.

We perhaps relied too much on the Environment Agency’s advice.

I think we recognise now that we should have dredged and I think it’s important now that we get on with the process of getting people back into their houses, and really do some serious pumping.

I apologise unreservedly and I’m really sorry that we took the advice, we thought we were dealing with experts.

What is he apologising for?

  • That it has rained?
  • That the government has failed to heed warnings on climate change?
  • That we have an imbecile as Environment Secretary who has no understanding of the environment?
  • That we have a Prime Minister who is gung-ho on fracking?

Eric Pickles has said we were wrong to heed experts at Environment Agency? So who do we heed, politicians in the pocket of Big Businesses?

Eric Pickles has promised serious pumping. We are now going to have the equivalent of bailing out the Titanic with two tea strainers not one.

Eric Pickles has said we are now going to dredge the rivers flowing through the Somerset Levels. Has he looked at any computer modelling, and seen it would not have made a jot of difference?

The Somerset Levels flooded due to the sheer volume of water that has fallen from the sky in the last two months.

The Recent Storms and Floods in the UK (Met Office: 9 Feb 2014):

The persistence of the recent storminess is unusual, and although clustering of storms is quite common, the continued run of deep depressions, through December, January and on into February, is not. It is this continued run of storms that has created the exceptional flooding conditions experienced in the Somerset Levels.

If we wish to mitigate the floods in areas like the Somerset Levels, then we have to address the problem upstream. We also have to accept, with more rainfall, areas such as the Somerset Levels will flood, and farmers must adjust their farming practices accordingly, to work with Nature, not against.

Warm air holds more water. Warm air leads to more frequent and violent storms

We are seeing an increase in the hourly and daily rate of rainfall. That rainfall has to go somewhere. When the land is saturated, it flows straight off the land and into the rivers.

So much rain has fallen since the beginning of December, we are seeing groundwater rising and in places it is now coming up through the ground.

One hundred and thirty severe flood warnings, indicating a threat to life, have been issued since December. In contrast, there were only nine in the whole of 2012.

The Met Office has released a report today saying there are strong links with what we are experiencing this winter and climate change.

Is Eric Pickles going to put into effect:

  • rewilding, re-afforestation, reintroduction of wolves, beavers and lynx, retention of water upstream, slowing flow rates
  • prohibition of all building on flood plains
  • making villages, towns and cities more porous

In Curitiba, there is large areas of parkland and green space, during periods of heavy rain, the ducks float a little higher.

Simple ideas like green roofs, a ban on paving over gardens.

Beavers block streams, slow the rate of flow.

Wolves keep down the deer populations, vegetation can grow. The land can absorb more water, not as it does in areas grazed by sheep and deer, flow straight off the land.

Looking back over the last week, wave after wave of storms and heavy rain most nights. Today (Sunday) a slight lull, though still very strong winds blowing, during the week, starting Monday night, more storms are expected, and even if the rainfall is not heavy, the ground is saturated, the water will flow off the land, to exacerbate those areas already flooded, or create new floods.

Dawlish  railtrack workers working in six-hour shifts - between high tides - to repair the track

Dawlish railtrack workers working six-hour shifts, between high tides, to repair the track

Mid-week, the iconic railway line at Dawlish washed away.

Network Rail said it was "too early to say" when the track at Bridgwater would reopen

Network Rail said it was “too early to say” when the track at Bridgwater would reopen

Dawlish may have been the most dramatic, other parts of the country, the lines are flooded. At Bridgewater, the line is flooded. Engineers cannot say when the line will be back in use, as until the floods recede, they cannot see if the ballast has been washed away.

Somerset Levels flooded

Somerset Levels flooded

map of flooded Somerset Levels

map of flooded Somerset Levels

The water levels in the Somerset Levels carry on rising.

The Thames in London, has burst its banks in several sections.

River Wey

Guildford River Wey

In Guildford, the River Wey had overflowed, temporary flood barriers in place and the town centre once again under threat of flooding.

Farnham River Wey Gostrey Meadow

Farnham River Wey Gostrey Meadow

Farnham Bishop's Meadow flooded

Farnham Bishop’s Meadow flooded

The River Wey in Farnham, running very high through Gostrey Meadow, Bishop’s Meadow flooded.

Published on Medium with additional notes.

Wettest drought

April 30, 2012




It sounds something of an oxymoron to say we are in the wettest drought, but that is what we are in. Ever since an official drought was declared all it has done is rain, rivers are swollen, towns are flooded.

For the last three weeks it has rained. For the last week monsoon weather.

There have been days during the last week when it has started to rain late at night, early hours of the morning, it is then continuous heavy rain most of the day. It was like it one day last week, it was like it Sunday.

On the days when it rains it is cold, the temperature drops to 7 C. Then we get sunny days, sunny days with cloud.

That is how it was Tuesday of last week. I took the train down to Liphook, where I had pub lunch with Canon Andrew White, his wife and three of his colleagues. The train passed through wooded countryside, a green haze as I looked into the woods, the trees were coming into leaf, little patches of primrose, a fox basking in the sun.

On my way back, I could have stopped off in Guildford, but I was tired. When I got home, I enjoyed the sun in my garden.

And yet the day before was cold and wet, only 7 C.

Friday was a lovely sunny day, I went to Guildford for the day.

The River Wey was high, muddy and flowing very fast. Riverside properties were flooded at ground level.

Saturday was cold and wet, only 7 C.

Sunday very heavy rain from late Saturday night until it finally eased off mid-afternoon. It was not though cold.

The wettest drought. April 2012 the wettest April since records began in 1910, and April is not yet over.

Today, Monday, a lovely warm sunny day, 18 C.

I have made the most of it. I have been working in the garden. The lawns mowed, the grass has not been cut for a week.

The compost heap rebuilt. The blackbirds and robins had all but demolished it in their search for compost worms.

An area cleared of weeds, the ground forked. This has been cleared for sweetcorn. Some of the weeds have been piled on top of the compost heap. Maybe this will deter the blackbirds and robins.

I really need to build a new compost heap, but until I clear the old one, nowhere to build it.

My peas are a coupé of inches high, broad beans about an inch high.

The bluebells in the woodland area at the bottom of the garden are beginning to come into flower. The patch by the house have been in flower for a couple of weeks.

The grass clearing in the woodland area is carpeted with cowslips in flower.

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