MOO Reports:
The Effect of a Severe Depression on the British Isles

by Andrew Worley

Depressions are the most common weather system in the British Isles. They bring rain, winds and unpredictable weather. Three unusually deep depressions have brought 'freak' weather conditions to the British Isles in the last few days - so severe that they have destroyed much Bournemouth School Meteorological Office's equipment!

It must be firstly mentioned that such events are indeed 'freak' only occurring perhaps every 20 years or so. The storms were caused by a number of factors - we have had an exceptionally moist summer and there has been heavy rain in September (and the Greenhouse Effect?). This meant that soils became saturated which in Southern England normally only happens in January. There has also been unusual solar activity.

The three depressions as I have said were extremely deep which has created strong winds and tornadoes! (In fact the UK has the second most Tornadoes in the world after eastern USA but they are usually very small.) The depressions have created strong winds of over 90mph inland while the Needles lighthouse off the Isle of Wight experienced winds of 110mph!

Large amounts of rain have caused widespread flooding - river levels are 12 feet higher than usual. This has flooded homes and other buildings foolishly built on floodplains. Towns on the coast such as Lewes, which also had to take a beating from a Tornado, have in fear of high tides and large waves.

 Many are using the recent freak weather conditions of evidence of 'global warming' caused by the 'Greenhouse effect' but it looks likely that the main cause was unusual solar activity because scientists were able to predict the storms one month earlier.

What lessons can be learnt from the recent storms? Well, it is another example of the power of nature and shows that we must give Mother Nature respect by not building on areas of risk of flooding. It is also a good example a storm cased by depressions. It also shows us that there are other reasons for 'freak' weather conditions apart from 'the Greenhouse Effect.'

See also: Global Warming



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