Saturday, 21 July 2007

Flooding in the UK

Seeing as some of the country is suffering from flooding this weekend, I thought I’d have a look at how it compares with earlier records of flooding in the UK and the rest of the world from past records.

The storm that caused the disastrous surge at the end of January 1953 was among
the worst to visit the UK in the 20th century. Hurricane-force winds had blown
down more trees in Scotland than were normally felled in a year. From Yorkshire to the Thames Estuary, coastal defences had been pounded by the sea and given way under the onslaught. Almost 100,000 hectares of eastern England were flooded and 307 people died. In The Netherlands, 50 dykes burst and 1,800 people drowned. The flood covered nine per cent of all Dutch agricultural land and three per cent of the dairy country. The sea reclaimed over 200,000 hectares of polder country. Although storm-force winds occurring with high tides are a dangerous but rare combination, there is no reason to suppose that the meteorological situation of 1953 could not recur one day. In fact, with the south-east region of the UK actually sinking at the rate of about 1 cm each year, the risk of storm surge damage could increase.

So in the South even if the weather were to stay the same we would suffer more flooding. But there is evidence that the weather is getting worse, see below. Also flood plains have been built on, as have other areas that before could have been used for groundwater recharge. There things we can do however, collecting the rainwater from every roof would certainly help. Using permeable paving instead of sealed tarmac for all those car parks would also help. But successive governments haven’t seemed interested. Brown has been talking about building millions of new homes, hopefully he will learn better.

Worlds worst weather in Australia, 21 July 2007.
Several rivers burst their banks in the Gippsland region on Thursday evening.
As floodwaters rose, residents were warned of a potential crisis with hundreds
forced to abandon their homes. Floodwaters were forecast to hit levels as high
as those seen during the great floods of 1990.

Sudan's 'worst floods in years'19 July 2007.
Nearly 40 people have died after floods destroyed thousands of homes in Sudan,
aid agencies say.

Floods: The worst affected places, 6 July 2007.
More than 28,000 properties were affected by the flooding that hit large parts
of the UK, a BBC survey of local councils suggests.

Sheffield Hit by Worst Flood in One Hundred and Fifty Years - A Black Swan Event!
Not even Sheffielders remember when the last big flood occured. Digging back into
history you would have to back nearly 150 years to 1864 when the Dale Dyke Dam burst. 25 June 2007.

Bolivia suffers worst floods for 25 years. 06 Mar 2007

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - More than 50 people were killed and 20 injured in Sudan's worst floods in living memory which have partially or completely destroyed 18,000 homes, the head of civil defence said on Thursday."One man who was about 90 years old told me he had never seen waters like these in his entire life".
Levels of the Nile in Khartoum last year were higher than in 1988 and 1946 when the
worst floods of last century hit Sudan. Last year some 10,000 houses were destroyed
during about four months of rains. 19 July 2007.

26 June 2007 Barnsley Council leader Steve Houghton said: "Never since records began have we had to deal with this much rainwater. Rivers and drains that were already full simply could not cope with all this extra rain. "No-one in Barnsley has ever seen anything like it. Areas that have never had a problem with water before are now flooded.

LONDON - Floods that inundated English towns and the countryside last year were
the worst since 1947. Records showed only 1799 and 1929/30 were more waterlogged, according to the study by the Joint Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Research. Around 5,000 homes and businesses, mainly in southern England were submerged in the floods, causing untold damage and misery. 31 Aug 2001.

A massive clean-up operation was underway in June after Leeds was hit by the worst
floods in its recorded history. A massive 61mm of rain fell in just nine hours in
some areas of the city, causing millions of pounds worth of damage to flooded homes,
schools and businesses. 26 June 2007.

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