MOO Reports:
Hell and High Water

by Ian Renton

During the last week, much of Britain has faced storms causing more damage than the Great Storm of 1987.  Force 11 winds have battered the south and west of the country, whilst persistent heavy rain has caused millions of pounds of damage through flooding over the last few days.  The recent storms were the fault of a hurricane which developed over the Gulf of Mexico during the middle of October.  At the BS Met Office, we first picked this up when we were gathering pictures for use at the school Open Evening on the 18th.

This storm has steadily pushed its way north-eastwards up the Gulf Stream, moving above the north of Scotland but dragging its weather fronts across the whole of the country.  This has been followed by yet another storm, arriving by the same route, which has added to the extreme flooding which much of the country has experienced.  Flood warnings are in place along the river Severn and for every river in Yorkshire, but even down here in the south the River Stour is several feet above its normal level, and some roads are under two feet of water.

The problems started nearly a week ago when the gale force winds turned into damaging storms, blowing down trees and fences, and tearing off roofs.  The problem was further added to by heavy rains for the whole of a night.  Since then there have been three more nights of persistent heavy rain.  Many of the country's rivers are still rising, and, with weather forecasters predicting the situation to get worse before it gets better, many are left stranded in temporary accommodation while they watch their houses under six feet of water, being ruined.

In fact, even as I write this now, on Thursday morning, driving rain is beating at the windows of my room, and more than an inch of rain is predicted today.  So far four people have been killed and seven injured as a result of the storms and flooding, and many of the injuries were caused by a tornado which ruined houses in Bognor Regis.  Although government funding is obviously going to be used to compensate those whose property has been irretrievably damaged, many people are complaining that the government is doing little to prevent such disasters.

The crisis could not have come at a worse time from the point of view of the transport network.  With some roads six feet deep in water, and many of the nation's motorways so flooded that visibility is minimal and travelling by car is a nightmare.  Buses, planes and ferries are all of course being affected by the bad weather.  Trains are mostly either not running or hugely delayed, since the storms have coincided with the week in which Railtrack is testing the entire railway network for faults.



. 1999-2003 Justin Taylor / John Dray

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