1st January 2016

All day rain has fallen, no chance of outside work today, but here on Exmoor, however wet we are – and the ground is saturated – we are so much better off than those living in Lancashire, in Yorkshire and South West Scotland. It must be appaling to have one’s home invaded by water, usually foul water, but for it to happen three weeks running is devastating.
We have lived here for twenty-two years and for twenty of them I have measured the rainfall. I make no claim that it is a scientific exercise, but my methods are consistent; I consider the data I have gathered to be a realistic record of the local pattern of rainfall.
Looking out of the window one is tempted to wonder whether this has been the wettest year-end we have seen. The answer is that it is not; the last three year ends (October/November/December average monthly rainfalls) have all been greater.1-img038
In fact in the year 2015 we have have seen a near average rainfall – 60.51 inches against the 20 year average of 61.80 inches. Our wettest year was 2012 with 84.39 inches, our driest was 2010 with less than half that figure at 41.11 inches.
Politicians tour round in Wellington boots making statements of intent, but the underlying problems persist, both building on flood plains and the UK’s upland farming policies. Yes, recent rains have been exceptional, but not unprecedented. In August 1952 nine inches of rain fell in less than 24 hours on an Exmoor watershed resulting in flood devastation in the likes of Lynmouth and Dulverton with many lives lost.
George Monbiot wrote a telling article in The Guardian on 30th December headlined “This flood wasn’t just foretold – it was publicly subsidized”, and making the point that, “supported by taxpayers’ money and crazy policies, farmers divert water off the land and into our homes”. There is so much that must be done in the upland catchment areas to mitigate the devastating surge of water into settlements that have stood for centuries without such catastrophic events.
In recent days the stream that flows down our valley and through our two ponds has been turned to a consistency akin to tomato soup after heavy rainfall.1-2014-02-14 15.14.54 In recent weeks a potato harvest has been gathered upstream using semi industrial techniques leaving the soil in a state so that every rain event is washing literally tons of top-soil off the hills in a waterborne stampede to reach the valleys.

This entry was posted in FLOODS, Rainfall, Uncategorized, Upland policies and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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