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4 February, 2004

Lots of weather

Last week we were threatened by severe winter weather (a threat which didn't materialise in Lancaster, but that's not the point).  This week it's flooding, due to rainfall.

Heavy rain fell all day on Saturday; not heavy showers or sustained light rain, but sustained heavy rain. Not a problem for me; I just stayed in for 42 hours from Friday to Sunday. Sunday and Monday were okay, but the rain began again that evening and by yesterday the water table was at the surface, even on high ground, so further rain had nowhere to go. The storm water drain in my street was full, and this was at the top of Lancaster - I can only wonder what was happening in town.

Cycling to work, I saw sports fields under water, and the tiny Burrow Beck was in flood, about a metre (call it 3') above the normal level, five times its usual width, and with standing waves more usual on a major river. I was momentarily concerned to see it had already reached the top of two bridges, which could easily have become blocked forming unstable dams - when that happened on the (much larger) River Roeburn in 1967, a large proportion of Wray village was swept away, even stone-built terraced housing. I've been past again today, and there a couple of fresh gouges in the stonework of one and the council have installed a barrier deflecting floating debris away from the other, so it's in hand.
The rural section of the route to work was totally flooded, but only to a depth of 10cm (4"), which wasn't a problem.

So, fairly trivial for me, but my daily route largely follows a ridge of high ground, so I saw little of the impact elsewhere. Apparently the Lune was extremely high through Lancaster, and A. was sent home early from his work placement in Kendal, as the Kent was flooding over a large area of southern Cumbria. The national news reported major flooding, particularly in North Wales. Capel Curig, Gwynedd received 167mm (6.5") of rain within 24 hours - four times the average February rainfall in London. The Guardian adds a further statistic: that Capel Curig has received 426mm of rain since Saturday, equivalent to half of London's average annual rainfall. The day was also anomalously warm, with Hawarden, Clwyd (where I went to school) registering the second highest 3 Feb. temperature ever, 16.2C (the highest ever 3 Feb. temperature was yesterday too, in Yorkshire).

More heavy rain this morning. My boots and waterproofs, already challenged yesterday, seem to have given way today, and I'm looking forward to 'home time', so I can get changed. However, if that's the worst I have to worry about, I'm better off than much of the country.

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