The MET Office has started naming storm systems, the way they name hurricanes in North America. At the end of December we have already been through Abigal, Barney, Clodagh, Desmond, and Eva. Frank is battering us now. Desmond caused flooding in Cumbria. Eva caused flooding in Lancashire and Yorkshire on Boxing Day. Frank is hitting all these spots, plus Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Towns that flooded in early December are being flooded again now. The cities of York and Manchester have flooding in neighborhoods near the river.
We live a mile from the coast in West Dorset. This area has a lot of rivers making their way to the sea. Our town, Bridport, has two rivers running through it. Bridport has flooded before, but is not being affected now. We seem to be getting the tail end of the storms, bringing overcast days, some rain and wind. We thought we would spend the winter walking on the coast path, beside the sea, enjoying the rough waters, but it is frequently too windy to walk. The wind blasts off the water and we stumble along holding onto our hats.
December and January are the worst months in the UK. The days are short and the sun, when it is out, is weak. By 4pm we are drawing the curtains. The rain turns the footpaths to mud. We walk on the less muddy footpaths in town to get our outside time.
On the sunny days, we spend as much time in the sun as we can. On the day before Christmas it was glorious and we spent the afternoon walking along the sea in Lyme Regis. We saw surfers and wind surfers, even one person swimming. Everyone else was walking on the Marine Parade and the new sea wall walkway on the east side of town. The tide was out and there had been a cliff collapse, exposing the fossils that the Jurassic Coast is famous for, so there were a lot of people on the sand and cliffs past the walkway searching for fossils.
This has been the mildest December since the UK started keeping records. Our temperatures have been in the mid 50s F most days, down only to the 40s at night. But it has been overcast and we have had many wet days. The day after Christmas was so windy that the West Bay Boxing Day Swim was called off.
Storm Frank started last night and we heard the fierce winds all night long. Today the rain was heavy. But this is nothing compared to what is happening up north. Every year that we have been here has brought flooding. One year the Somerset Levels, just north of Dorset, were badly flooded. Another year south Devon was hard hit. Cumbria has been flooded before in the last few years. It seems like it is something that we have to live and each year it is getting worse.
A good Opinion article in today’s Guardian talks about the changes we have made to the land around rivers which has caused more flooding (The Guardian – This flood was not only foretold – it was publicly subsidised, by George Monbiot 29 December 2015).
Let this wind and rain blow away 2015. Here’s hoping for sunny days again in 2016. Happy New Year!
The Guardian – Does a storm cause more or less pain if it has a human name? by Stephen Moss, 30 December 2015
BBC News – Lyme Regis walkway opens as sea defences finished, 22 August 2014
The Telegraph – Fossil hunters flock to Jurassic coast after cliff fall, by Victoria Ward, 29 Dec 2015