From drought to flood
In hydrological terms, 2012 was a very remarkable year, unlike any other on record. The first three months saw the continuation of the drought which, by March, had intensified and was covering much of the southern half of the country. Feeble flows in rivers and much depressed reservoir and aquifer levels caused worries of a drought of 1976 proportions and serious concern for summer shortages of water. Towards the end of March it seemed probable that, even if rainfalls were about average for the summer months, water supplies would be hit hard in the south and east, possibly with standpipes in the streets. There was a deficit of 120mm of rain that had to be made up to bring conditions towards normal. Hosepipe bans were introduced by water companies on 5 April across much of southern England but within days the deluge started, a deluge which turned the summer into the wettest for 100 years. Instead of average rainfalls, monthly totals of twice the average (and more) were widespread between April and August. Floods replaced the drought, Hebden Bridge and Clovelly were flooded, and there were even floods in some places where there was still a hosepipe ban !
This abrupt change from serious drought to excessive rain is unequalled in the hydrometeorological records which have been collected over the last 150 years. By the end of September 2012, England had received about 600 mm of rain compared to an average of less than half that amount for the 6 months. By comparison, Angus Dart recorded 426mm in Mackney. In October, flood warnings were issued for a growing number of locations, approaching 200 in late November, the south west being hardest hit. In most areas the heavy rain continued for the rest of the month and in the New Year the Met Office declared 2012 as the wettest year ever in England and the second wettest for the UK as a whole. Rosemary Greasby’s total for the year at Highlands Farm was 819mm, the second wettest since she started rainfall observations in 1998.
Annual Meeting and Talk
The annual meeting of the Group will be held in the Village Hall on 26 February, followed by a talk by Angus Dart on Farming in Brightwell.
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