Floodplains – The Clue is in the Name

These plaques are on the river wall directly outside 1164174. The text reads: [TOP] This wall was erected - and the piles fixed - Anno Domini 1817 - William Smith, Warden. [LEFT] Variable high tides - March 30th 1874 - Joseph Giles, Warden. [RIGHT] Extraordinary high tide - January 7th 1928 - when 75ft of this wall were demolished - Leonard Collyer, Warden.

“The text reads: [TOP] This wall was erected – and the piles fixed – Anno Domini 1817 – William Smith, Warden. [LEFT] Variable high tides – March 30th 1874 – Joseph Giles, Warden. [RIGHT] Extraordinary high tide – January 7th 1928 – when 75ft of this wall were demolished – Leonard Collyer, Warden.”
Image Wikipedia

The Thames Valley is a wedge-shaped area widening from Reading to include the Bracknell, Slough, Windsor areas, the Colne Valley and the south-west London fringes. As the river Thames enters the London suburbs of north Surrey, the floodplain is bounded in the distance to the south and west by low wooded hills which lie in the adjoining character area, the Thames Basin Heaths.

In the centre of the Thames Valley, the open Thames floodplain dominates.

Natural England, Character of the Thames Valley

The weather is dreadful. It is extreme and something not seen in many years, if not generations, however we should not be surprised it has happened…again. It has only ever been a matter of when not if  and it has everything to do with climate change and nothing to do with CO2.  However, the arguments offers no comfort to those whose properties and livelihoods have not been saved and relief from the weather does not look to be coming any time soon. The circumstances that led up to the flooding must be thoroughly investigated and by an independent outside agencies. Ministerial and bureaucratic incompetence, mismanagement, and/or greed, cutbacks, not to mention group think, may have played their part. It seems reasonable to speculate that a belief may have emerged that history would not repeat itself as so confident were the projections as we were told to prepare for a Mediterranean climate rather than floods.

Even in 2010 the Met Office were proclaiming their climate simulations were predicting/projecting extreme droughts for our future. We have often been told of the jetstream pushing north due to global warming. In 2012 they blamed the wet weather on the jetstream. In 2013 they blamed the cold on the oceans. Now it’s climate change caused by us, possibly, they’re not really sure but it’s consistent with it being your fault. [You may have noticed all these UK weather extremes are caused by a blocked, southerly polar jetstream over the Northern Hemisphere] So which is it? They cannot, even by inference or ‘loaded dice’ statements, claim every extreme weather event as proof when it directly contradicts the story they have been pushing previously . That’s not scientific, it’s pathetic. 

1852 and 1894 also had significant Thames Valley flooding implying a non co2 induced southerly jetstream [see also my post Climate Change Realism for some other weird historical non Co2 induced weather]

The following is from an excellent resource on flooding on the Thames which is worth reading in full and why the current flooding must be taken in perspective

It is not widely known that in Victorian times, Windsor, and also the rest of the country, suffered flooding far more regularly than in the 20th century. Although this can partly be blamed on less effective river management, there must also be an element of extreme weather conditions. For example, a particularly severe flood seems to have occurred in 1852, the Illustrated London News reporting that the floods of December 1872 were some two feet lower than the floods of 1852. It has also been reported that a severe flood, possibly worse than 1894 occurred in 1774.

This from the excellent booty:

1852 Remarkable rainfall totals over these 5 months: total for this period (EWP)=717mm (or ~170% of the long-term average). November in particular was exceptionally wet; with 203mm for the EWP, this represented some 220% of the average, and is the wettest November (and the second wettest any-month) in that series. By November and through December, the Thames Valley from Vauxhall to Windsor resembled a ‘vast lake’. Oxford was standing in a ‘sea of water’, the Cherwell and Isis being several miles wide. At several places along the river, (e.g. Maidenhead, Reading, Ealing and Uxbridge), the principal corn fields were inundated by several feet of water. Flooding extended to other areas in the southeast of England – Epsom, Dartford, Lewisham and Charlton all mentioned. On the North Kent railway, the valley of the Medway and the marshes along the Thames were one expanse of water for many miles. Parts of Chatham, Rochester and Stroud (all Kent) were also flooded. At Guildford, Chertsey, Woking and Battersea, the flood was several feet deep. Many other like reports across the region….A notably wet year over England & Wales: With an EWP of 1213mm, it is placed 4th in the all-record list (as at 2003). (See also 1872, 1768, 1960 & 2000). At Oxford, the annual total rainfall was 1047mm, representing 160% of the average, and up to 2004, this was the highest total in a series that stretched back to 1766 (‘Weather’ Oct. 2004).

It was also windy

South_Devon_Railway_sea_wall_breach_February_2014

Image courtesy Wikipedia

(December) Over the Christmas period (25th to 27th) two major storms of wind (from the SW) affected the British Isles: Heavy rain also a problem (see above) and there was widespread & serious damage due to high winds & flooding. Specifically, on December 25th: from Kendal (Westmorland), ” violent storm of wind from the SW, nearly equal to that of January 7th, 1839; a lady killed in Highgate, by the falling of a chimney. December 27th, again a “great storm of wind” from the same quarter, accompanied by heavy rain & extensive damage caused by the flood at Foulshaw”.(CUMB). Sea walls damaged / destroyed at Southport, Lancashire

It is no wonder we forget these extremes as they happen so infrequently. Not many people alive today at the forefront of the extreme weather debate can bear witness to the very wet and very windy events of 1929/30, which Paul Homewood has highlighted in Did They Have Global Warming in 1929 as well Julia. Whilst we are able to download adjusted temperature and precipitation data, they only give a flavour of what it was like we can only rely on the written and measured observations of the time. The Met Office Monthly Weather Report Archive is such a resource and worrying shows that the wet theme of 1929/30 continued well into the next year, with brief pauses. Looking through historical weather it is quite striking how periods of flood and drought seem to cluster, something Paul also noted.

If we are to learn any lessons from the current deluge, it is that we must relearn what we have quite possibly known for millennia – that in times of feast we prepare for famine and in times of flood prepare for drought. There was a reason why year after year we practised tasks such as dredging and whitewashing houses. It is by understanding that and maintaining – modifying if need – the infrastructure, both natural and man made, which protects us from the worst ravages the weather throws at us. We just do not wave a white flag saying it ‘might possibly could’ be carbon dioxide and abandon the floodplains and seashores. If during the Napoleonic wars and a period of extreme climate change,with droughts, floods, storms, heatwaves and freezes – known as the Little Ice Age – we were able to drain and cultivate the Somerset Levels we should be able to prepare better for the next time instead of trying to go back to the dark ages.

See also UK Met Office – Cheaters never Prosper

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2 thoughts on “Floodplains – The Clue is in the Name

  1. Pingback: Nigel Lawson to Climate Morons ‘Cool it’ | CraigM350

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