Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Blown Away - The Storm of 2013

The great storm of October 2013 wasn't quite up to its predecessor but still managed to take the lives of five people and leave 600,000 without power.

For the first time, Twitter offered a useful means of tracking the storm's progress and impact and I found #Storm2013 very useful as a source of news. At the same time, Twitter was also filled by the vacuous remarks of celebrities and those who should have known better, complaining that the storm was exaggeration, hyperbole or just a damp squib, where they happened to be.

Since the Great Storm of 1987, the ability of MetOffice computer to predict the weather has improved by over a thousand times but we should always remember that predictions surround probability and not fact and this, from time to time, catches me out as a pilot, when a forecast that appears pretty solid, looks nothing like the prediction when bad weather wraps around my ears in an aircraft.

Yesterday's weather appeared pretty accurate when I was out in my garden in the early hours trying to save the greenhouse from blowing away, as the wind found its way inside and started to blow out the panels. 1987 was a different beast but this time around the data was clearer, with winds aloft in the Atlantic of 200mph at the Southern point of Ireland.

20 Ships Sheltering Off Margate
Since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and more recently, Hurricane Sandy in New York, forecasters, have leaned towards the worst case scenario rather than underplay the data, in an attempt to alert the public to the risk to property and life. It's a difficult balancing act as most people can't look at the pressure charts and draw their own independent conclusions in regards to track and impact.

In this case, most people were better prepared than 1987 and while, until the last moment, the forecasters were not entirely sure where the track would take the storm, we can be thankful that it was not as bad as it might have been if a handful of conditions had all converged neatly as it passed over the South of Britain.

Locally, it looks as if business continued uninterrupted. We lost some trees and the Great Wall of Ramsgate. Cllr Poole, I'm sure breathed a huge sigh of relief that the Pleasurama site was not flooded but I do suspect that with extreme weather becoming more common, it won't be long before we see a repeat performance of Sunday, emerging one dark day from the North Atlantic.


Michael Child said...

Simon ‘twas the wrong type of storm to have much effect on the Pleasurama site. I think the fence fell down more because the wooden posts holding it up have been in the ground so long they have rotted than the strength of the wind. With Pleasurama this is more like the wrong type of snow issue that causes transport chaos but sounds a stupid reason to those stranded. For Pleasurama to flood you need to have low barometric pressure centralised over this area, this can cause a sea level rise here of up to a metre and a half, if this is combined with a fairly high tide this means the static sea level is around the same as the baseline of the proposed development. Add a storm to this, I guess I don’t have to draw you a diagram.

Without laying blame on previous administrations, do you have any idea how the council can get out of the tangle related to the Pleasurama flood risk? Which in simple terms is that the environment agency have called for an assessment of the flood and storm risk there, which just hasn’t happened.

Simon Moores said...

I've really no idea but with UKIP, TIG, Cllr Driver and Labour effectively directing the Council, I really can't see my playing any rational part in discussions for a long time to come!

Anonymous said...

Hello Simon, who is responsible for the up keep of the foot bridges over the railway tracks? The protective covering on the one near the toilets in Westgate is worn through to the bare metal in places, and is very slippery in weather like todays!

Simon Moores said...

In this case I think it's KCC but I will report it anyway as finding the UKIP County Councillor may prove a challenge!