“We’ve never seen anything like it”
That is what most people seem to be saying these days regarding the recent and ongoing storms in the UK. From as far back as October we have had depression after depression coming at us from across the Atlantic bringing at first what I would call ‘expected conditions’ for UK winter weather although as the weeks and months went on and these depressions kept on coming it soon turned into something a lot more than just usual UK winter weather. I have written in a previous post that the UK seems to cope fairly well with floods and bad weather; after all it is by far the most common natural disaster we experience in the UK and we have invested huge amounts of money into trying to prevent and reduce damage from these weather systems. however, there is only so much a country can take and I now believe that the UK is beginning to stumble under the weight of these storms. The intensity of these storms, with a few recent exceptions, has not been massive; but it has been the frequency of them, that is causing us to fail in protecting our country from these storms. they come so quickly that we have so little time to recover from the previous storm and prepare for the next one. a clear example of this is seeing people frantically building up sandbag walls around their properties in the hope that it will stop the floods entering their homes again. the land hasn’t had time to recover either. many villages on the Somerset levels did begin to see a gradual reduction in the flood levels only for it to be increased again with more rain. in my opinion, we need long term strategies to be in place after this storm and that must be the main lesson the country learns from this.
over the past week, the most damaged areas of the country has been the south west, especially along the coastline. winds along the coast have reached over 80 mph and inland the wind speeds have still been high enough to cause significant damage to power lines infrastructure and trees. I remember listening to out local radio on Wednesday evening and hearing reports of a roof being completely blown off by the wind, and large oak trees, that I would consider the ones that are the most likely to survive a storm, being pushed over like they were nothing. these sort of things are what come to my mind when we hear of tornadoes and hurricanes in America, although this was happening much closer to home. for this reason I was very happy that my neighbor took the decision last summer to cut down a row of trees near me, they had been there longer than the houses but I don’t think they would have survived the winds that day. the wind also made for some fascinating sites near the coast too. Sea foam was whipped up so much by the wind over the sea that it covered the road near the village of Mullion, you can see the video here (credit: BBC).
A combination of strong winds and high tides resulted in the main line from that connects Cornwall to the rest of the country being destroyed at Dawlish, as the sea broke through the sea wall and undermined the land behind, leaving the line swinging in the wind and a few houses behind that in danger of collapse. this has effectively cut off Cornwall from the rest of the country which is going to cause major traffic issues as well as effecting the Cornish economy. my view of this is that the section of railway should be repaired as soon as it is safe to do so, but also plans must be made to build an alternative route inland which will mean that if this happened again, Cornwall would not be completely cut off.
The sea has damaged so many areas around the coast that it is impossible to cover them all, but one thing that caught my eye was the damage in Porthleven, Cornwall. after the storm on Wednesday, 6 boats had been sunk when the waves broke through the barrier that protects the boats in the inner harbor from stormy conditions. this shocked me as the barriers that protect the harbor weigh 2 tonnes and they were snapped like sticks and were seen floating in the harbor afterwards. Porthleven isn’t too far from me and I have gone there to see the sea when it is wild before but it has never been this bad. it truly amazes me.
As i have said, I can’t include everything, and if these storms continue then I will have no doubt there will be more shocking images and pieces of news to write about. I can also guarantee that people will not stop using the phrase “We’ve never seen anything like it”, we will probably hear that for a while yet.
If anyone has any interesting stories about the storms then feel free to comment about them below, I would love to hear from you.
- information on the storm’s effects sourced from the following: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-26068341 http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/LIVE-BLOG-Cornwall-storm-coming/story-20588956-detail/story.html#axzz2sk77VhgZ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-26095937