All eyes on York after worst September storm since 1981

Wednesday 26 September 2012, 15:02

Paul Hudson Paul Hudson

The deepest area of low pressure in September since 1981 has caused many of Yorkshire's rivers to burst their banks - although the rain was not quite intense enough to cause serious flooding of property like in the autumn of 2000.



Cumulatively since the rain started falling on Sunday evening, to when it stopped during the early hours of this morning, Ravensthorpe in Richmondshire has had the highest rainfall in the country with 131mm (over 5 inches).

At Leeming, 100mm (4 inches) of rain has been recorded in the same time period. This is almost double what would normally be expected in the whole of September (Average 52mm).

Furthermore, the station recorded its wettest September day, with 76mm falling in the 24hours to 10am on Tuesday morning. Weather data has been collected at the RAF station since 1945.

All eyes are now on the River Ouse catchment, whose tributaries are the Rivers Derwent, Aire, Don, Wharfe, Rother, Nidd, Swale, Ure and Foss, all of which have been high in the last 24 hours.

The Environment agency currently has 2112 properties on flood warning along the length of the Ouse catchment.

Current forecasts suggest the river will peak at midnight in York at no higher than 4.7 metres above normal. It is currently flowing at 4.5 metres above normal.

This would be higher than the peak in January 2008 of 4.5 metres above normal, but quite a bit lower than the record which was set in November 2000 of 5.4 metres above normal.

It will give comfort to the residents of York that during that record breaking river level, the main flood defences, including the Foss barrier, held.

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    Comment number 1.

    The amount of rainfall has probably had an impact on the tourist economy this summer many events had reduced capacity all summer. October race event could do with some sunshine at the knavesmire

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    Comment number 2.

    The daily England & Wales rainfall on September 19th, 1981, was 25.04 mm, but I am not sure if that was related to the previous deepest area of low pressure mentioned above. There were four other days with over 10mm of rain but none of them were contiguous, either with the 19th or other day of over 10mm, so it must have been quite a stormy month.
    Sorry the figure of 43.23mm which I quoted in the previous thread, was actually on the 25th of August 1986, not September.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 3.

    Yet another freakish low bringing monumental rain. The most intense in Sept. since 1981. Not that long ago so nothing very unusual - I feel sure many sceptics will say.

    Maybe - if seen in isolation. But rather more unsettling in the context of exceptional rainfall and a long sequence of unusually disturbed weather starting in April. And this itself following on from an exceptional prolonged dry period. Don't forget the record heat/drought simultaneously occuring in America and elsewhere as well of course.

    Sceptics are hoping and trying to convince us that it must be caused (in some yet to be explained way) by the sun. Perhaps it is.

    On the other hand - what a coincidence it seems to be happening in line with warnings about man made climate change - imperfect models or not.

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    Comment number 4.

    Comparing one year to multi decadel warnings is probably unwise!

    'In the future plants in the UK will be affected by climate change in a number of ways:

    Increased carbon dioxide levels will increase rates of plant growth and perhaps development (bud burst, flowering and leaf fall)
    Changes in temperatures are expected to bring an earlier onset of growth in spring and a longer growing season
    Mild winters may reduce the yield of fruit trees, because colder temperatures are needed to break the buds
    Increased temperatures will aid the growth of more plants from warmer parts of the world
    Higher temperatures and decreased summer rainfall will cause stress, especially in plants with extensive, shallow, fibrous root systems
    Annual moisture content of soils is likely to decrease by 10-20% across the UK by the 2080s, with substantial reductions (of 20-50%) in soil moisture possible in the summer by the 2080s
    Fungal diseases will thrive with the wet winter conditions.'

    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate-change/guide/impacts/horticulture

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    Comment number 5.

    #3. - jkiller56 wrote:
    "But rather more unsettling in the context of exceptional rainfall and a long sequence of unusually disturbed weather starting in April. And this itself following on from an exceptional prolonged dry period. Don't forget the record heat/drought simultaneously occuring in America and elsewhere as well of course."
    Whatever happened to "It's weather, not climate"! Oh, I'm sorry, that only applies when the weather appears to contradict "climate change" theory.

    "On the other hand - what a coincidence it seems to be happening in line with warnings about man made climate change - imperfect models or not."
    Yes, coincidence. Confirmation bias pure and simple.
    It is true that we appear to be going through a period of more "extreme" weather, but that is only part of the natural variability in weather. This only seems "extreme", compared to 20-50 years ago, which is as long as most people's memories go back. Rainfall was probably equally "extreme" in the 1920's and 1870's as it is now. The highest annual rainfall on record in Engalnd & Wales was 1285mm in 1872 and extreme rainfall is correlated with high annual rainfall.
    It is true that heavy rainfall is having more effect now but that is mainly due to increased areas of conurbation and the effect that has on drainage. There is more flooding, due to greater roof space, and more land covered in tarmac and concrete, which causes faster run-off into rivers and drainage systems. Large parts of the areas affected by recent flooding, didn't exist 50 years ago. There are simply MORE PEOPLE now to be affected by flooding.
    I agree that it would be easy to be seduced by recent weather into believing that it is something abnormal, if you are ignorant of past weather patterns.
    Some extracts from Whitaker's Almanac of 1897, referring to September 1896:
    "The weather was EXCESSIVELY wet and overcast. Sunshine was UNPRECEDENTLY deficient. Cyclonic storms passed over the kingdom rapidly, without SCARCELY ANY INTERMISSION, between the 22nd and the 27th, but with very DESTRUCTIVE VIOLENCE." There are also reports of rainfall figures of over 1 inch (25mm), in a number of locations during the month. And 1896 was actually in the middle of a period of relatively LOW annual rainfall - actually one of the lowest 10 year averages in the HadUKP series, so things would have been worse in the 1870's. The only reason I quote from this edition of WA, is that it is the oldest I have.

 

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