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25 August, 2004

Lancaster's evening deluge

At about 17:40 this evening, the sky was clear and I had my 'office' (back bedroom) curtains drawn to minimise direct sunlight on my PC's monitor.  At 17:40:30 (approximately; you get the idea), rainfall was drowning out my music.
I've probably witnessed heavier rain in Lancaster, but never of this intensity sustained for so long.  Large raindrops were bouncing 30-50 cm back up from the road and roofs until those surfaces became totally submerged by laminar flow.  Gutters couldn't cope, neither those on houses, causing water to fall in sheets from some roofs, nor kerbside gutters, so within 3-4 minutes the entire road was under a couple of inches of water.  My road is relatively flat, orientated across the top of the hill; I could only guess what the downhill roads and those near the bottom were like, so I got ready for a quick bike ride as soon as it stopped.

Yet it didn't. There was lightning, with thunder audible after a count of five or six (i.e. close but not immediately overhead), but somehow each flash was accompanied immediately by a redoubling of rainfall intensity. It went on and on for a further ten minutes or so, not even easing, until suddenly there was no more water falling onto the street from the sky, just the roofs. At the back of the house, it was still falling, which confused me for a moment; the edge of the rain must have taken a few seconds to pass.

I went out immediately, but the gutters were already recovering. However, at the bottom of the hill, where surface drainage from the Moorlands and Primrose estates merges and is supplemented by that from Scotch Quarry, the road was impassable to pedestrians and my bike. I took a couple of photos, and with hindsight should have quickly dodged around an alternative way to catch the flash flood elsewhere, but it was fascinating to just watch from where I was.
By the time I did move, almost all the flow was back underground, but I took a few more photos of the aftermath anyway.

This was nothing like the Boscastle flood last week, of course, but even such a brief episode of severe weather (by UK standards!) did have a worryingly appreciable effect.

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