Monday, July 02, 2007

The June Floods, Or Correctly Described As A Significant Weather Event

Picking up the keys from our neighbours turned into an opportunity for us all to indulge in that very British obsession, talking about the weather. Whilst we had a bit of drizzle in Normandy, and picked up on the likelihood of rains across southern England from the French weather reports, the full horror of what actually occurred whilst we were away awaited us. Quite literally, it hasn't stopped raining for nearly two weeks. Nothing new there then. But what is new is the volume of rain falling in such a short period, and the ferocity of the deluge. Yorkshire seems to have borne the brunt of it, with Sheffield and Doncaster hit particularly hard.
It all began with tracking of satellite images two weeks ago, when the Met Office in Exeter issued its first warning of a significant weather event. An area of low pressure sitting right over the top of the British Isles is very unusual for this time of year, and should be a lot closer to Iceland. The steering mechanism is a core of very strong winds that normally moves these features all the way across the Atlantic, but are much more northerly tracked at this time of year. This feature is a good deal further south and the British Isles is sitting right in the firing line. Cold, Arctic air streams down along the isobars, mixes with warm, moist air coming up from the Atlantic, and where these two meet becomes the focus of persistent and heavy downpour of rains across the British Isles.
And here in our village, at the top of a hill overlooking the surrounding valleys, we escaped most of the flooding but the gardens are devastated. The branches of fruit trees are bowing down and at risk of splitting from their trunks; the climbing roses are torn from their wires, their blooms scattered across the gardens; emerging autumn perennials are looking already tattered; and the paths are heavily puddled and the pond overflows constantly. Only the window panes sparkle under the persistent scouring, and cars, paths and terraces have never looked cleaner. Mind you, I can't complain, as the deluge meant my pots didn't dry out whilst we were away. As it's too wet to get out and photograph anything just yet, here's some hortiporn from the archives.

"Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh." The Song of Songs.