Tag Archives: Flood

Thunderstorms bring a Holyrood awakening

It was just before 3am that I was awoken by faint rumblings outside. I knew there was a risk of thunder before I’d retired to bed a few hours earlier but I’d discounted the risk along with any thoughts of staying up to watch the referendum results unfold in Scotland.

This radar shot shows the storm just beginning to hit Wanstead. The rain was far heavier to our east. 17.2mm was reported at Laindon, Essex. An observer at Woodford Wells recorded 19.9mm her in about 25 minutes 0310-0335 bst
This radar shot shows the storm just beginning to hit Wanstead. The rain was far heavier to our east. 17.2mm was reported at Laindon, Essex. An observer at Woodford Wells recorded 19.9mm her in about 25 minutes 0310-0335 bst

Lightning then illuminated the room through the gaps in the curtains followed by more rumblings: it’ll pass, I thought. Crash – I grabbed my phone – was this an isolated event? The radar showed a line of slow moving storms moving up from the south. More lightning and loud thunder. My Twitter feed told me it wasn’t going too well for those wanting independence. At this point intensely bright lightning was rapidly followed by one of the loudest claps of thunder I’ve heard around 3.10am. Car alarms were set off – may as well get up I thought… The Inverclyde result was announced – ‘No’, by the narrowest of margins 50.1% to 49.9%. That’s it then, I thought. The lightning and thunder gradually began to fade away with hopes of an independent Scotland, on this night anyway. I glanced at my stats which seemed far less impressive than what was recorded elsewhere: 7.7mm, no big fall in temperature or pressure like previous storms during the summer.

Just a few hours later I walked my younger daughter into school, my bleary eyes struggling to focus – the humid and steamy atmosphere felt more like July than September. Indeed Thursday had been the warmest September 18th since 1997 which, strangely, was the same year that another momentous British event took place: the handover of Hong Kong to China. I remarked to a couple of parents that the only thing that had changed overnight was that Andy Murray will forever be the “Scottish” tennis player after his comment on Twitter.

The forecast advised that there was a continued threat of thunderstorms. It was humid but it didn’t ‘feel’ stormy – though around 2.30pm I could hear the beginning of faint rumblings in the distance.

Clouds above could be seen developing rapidly at 2.30pm
Clouds above could be seen developing rapidly at 2.30pm

I left for work on my scooter at 3pm, carefully watching the sky for any developments all of which seemed to be in the distance. After stopping for petrol in Leytonstone High Road huge drops of rain began splattering the pavement. They were few and far between, however, and the sun defiantly continued to shine. After riding past Stratford I suddenly became aware that the buildings in the distance, past Bow flyover, were gradually beginning to disappear. I pulled in to a turning where Gala Bingo is situated. An electronic noticeboard enquired: “Do you feel lucky?” Not today I thought and retrieved my overtrousers that live under the seat, hastily pulling them on as I watched the impending storm begin to close in.

I continued on and was soon enveloped in the full force of another thunderstorm. Marble-sized hail clattered off my crash helmet while dangerous gusts, caused by wind funneling through the new high rise flats by the Olympic Park, did their best to push me off. Just as I crossed the canal a sheet of rain engulfed me and the drivers to my right. The road in front suddenly turned into a shallow river. I usually ride over the flyover – not today with the torrent of water cascading off the sides.

The 3.15pm storm that flooded large parts of East London. The white area shows where the heaviest rain was
The 3.15pm storm that flooded large parts of East London. The white area shows where the heaviest rain was

By the time I reached Mile End the rain had almost stopped. The City looked fairly dry and on reaching London Bridge the roads were completely dry. The Friday crowds were out in force in Borough Market, enjoying the sunshine and seemingly oblivious to the chaos unfolding just a few miles away in East London. Within 10 minutes of walking into my office Alex Salmond announced his resignation. Another storm: another momentous event! It was another of those coincidental storms that, in my mind, seem to mark momentous events such as the Royal birth last July

I checked the stats of the storm back in Wanstead: 24.5mm  fell  with a peak rate of 76.5mm/hr at 15.47. The storm ended a run of 16 dry days bringing the total for the month up to 33mm – the 24hr total was 30.5mm. The explosive convection of this storm can be seen here. The associated hail and rain brought much flooding to Hackney, Hackney Wick and Leytonstone. This storm seemed to be the result of a convergence line over London between light southerlies to the south and easterlies to the north – the heavy rain was very localised.

Flooding images can be seen on the following links at Dalston, Wanstead Flats, Leytonstone Station, Wick Road. A short clip of flooding at Wick Road can be seen here.

The flooding wasn’t restricted to East London. In Southend water started pouring through the roof of the Dixons theatre though it failed to stop the performance. Shops in London Road were inundated.

http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/11486080.Fire_crews_receive_100_calls_as_severe_flooding_hits_Southend/

See also:

http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/local_news/11353521.FLOODING_CHAOS___Southend_Hospital_A_E_evacuated_as_south_Essex_is_battered_by_downpour/?ref=var_0

http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/11486049.Updated__Flash_flooding_hits_homes_and_businesses/?ref=var_0

 

 

Advertisements

June deluge that created Redbridge-on-Sea

It was the summer when the ‘sea’ came to Redbridge.  A record-breaking 59-hour deluge in the middle of June 1903 left vast swaths of the borough inundated. But this was no thundery downpour. All across London and the South East record rainfall rates and totals were set, many of which still stand well over a century later.

The writer of this postcard wrote the following: "Just sending you a few postcards to let you see what a plight we have been in Ilford. This view is the River Roding from the bridge. This was a large green field now it is like a large river but glad to say it has subsided a little of course. You will have read it in the papers I have sent you."
The author of this postcard wrote the following:
“Just sending you a few postcards to let you see what a plight we have been in Ilford. This view is the River Roding from the bridge. This was a large green field now it is like a large river but glad to say it has subsided a little of course. You will have read it in the papers I have sent you.”
This terrace of houses in Wanstead Park Road, which backs on to the River Roding, were also flooded out. The postcard was written on July 1st, 1903
Images of the flooding were captured by Watson Hornby, an amateur photographer and artist, who traded at 7 Cranbrook Road, Ilford. This terrace of houses in Wanstead Park Road, which backs on to the River Roding, were also flooded out. The postcard was written on July 1st, 1903

According to one local historian the fields between Wanstead Park and Ilford – as far as Uphall Road – were like an open sea and the railway track at Seven Kings resembled a shallow river.

After a dry start to the month June quickly went downhill with notable falls of rain during the second week. The main deluge arrived around noon on Saturday, June 13, and lasted until near midnight on the 15th.

The rain was caused by a depression that moved slowly across southern England, becoming stationary over the English Channel close to the Isle of Wight for 24 hours before moving north-east. It introduced a very cool NE’ly airflow – the temperature on the 14th and 15th failed to climb above 11C and on the 19th a high of just 9.2C was recorded as yet more rain fell. 

Across the London area there were five days within the period 10th to 19th June when over 25mm of rain was measured in many places. The deluge added to what became the wettest summer month on record. At the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, just over 154mm fell, three times the amount of what normally falls in June in this area. Further west, Kew Observatory recorded 184mm.

The June 1903 flood at Empress Avenue at the junction of Wanstead Park Road
The June 1903 flood at Empress Avenue at the junction of Wanstead Park Road

The 1903 rains produced an unprecedented summer flood on the Thames. At Teddington 7335 million gallons (33,374 million litres) of water flowed over the weir on June 21st. Elsewhere the Lea Valley was one vast lake, especially around Enfield, with the Royal Gunpowder Factory inundated.

The Friday, June 19th edition of the Essex County Chronicle abounds with other tales of woe from the floods…

Barking and District: In the large area of low-lying ground between Lea Bridge, Ilford, Barking, and East Ham, houses stood in a great inland sea, which was washing over the garden fences and lapping at the lower windows. Upstairs the occupants could be seen moving about or gazing hopelessly out at the dreary waste of black waters. Boats from Barking Creek were rowing about with supplies of milk and bread, and those who wished were taken away. All along the Barking Road from East Ham scenes almost identical were witnessed, but, happily with the end of the rain, the water did not retain its level long. Past Barking and on to Rainham the roads on Tuesday were quite impassable, much of the heavy traffic which goes through Rainham towards Barking having to turn back.

The floodwaters between Wanstead Park and Ilford were described as a vast inland sea

Woodford and Wanstead: The inhabitants of Claybury Asylum and Woodford Bridge were cut off by 3ft of water from Woodford. The whole of the Roding Valley was in a deplorable state; sheds, trees and stock that was once alive floating in all directions. Wanstead was divided from Ilford by a great lake, but happily the total of loss in property was here very small.

Lea Bridge: The Leyton marshes were covered by one great sheet of water, Lea Bridge Road itself being quite 2ft under. Boats were to be seen plying among the tramcars.

Epping: The valleys were well-nigh impassable, especially at Thornwood and parts of Theydon Bois.

Romford: The floods reached to Romford High Street, and made the thoroughfare impassable for pedestrians. The crisis caused a heated exchange among members at a meeting of the Urban Council on Monday evening where it was agreed to allow the free use of the town fire engine for pumping water from ratepayers’ premises, provided that those who required its services paid for the labour. Cllr J. Bassett thought the residents should make their own arrangements for getting rid of the water. Cllr J.R Holliday replied: “You don’t live near the river. I should like to stick you in the middle of it. I think it is the duty of the council to protect property.”

Laindon: Here the height of the deluge was experienced between seven and eight o’clock on Sunday evening. The rain descended in apparent ropes of water, causing consternation, flooding houses, choking drains and water-troughing, cutting deep channels in roads, washing up plants and new potatoes. On Monday the water was between 3 and 4ft feet deep at Noak Hill and other bridges.

Woodford: An exciting scene took place at Woodford Bridge, where a steam circus, with its owners, was in the most precarious position. Men and women were submerged up to their armpits while extricating the caravans.

rainfall tableAway from the South East the weather was much dryer. Felixstowe and Yarmouth newspapers reported that Sunday had seen “delightfully sunny weather, with cool north-easterly breezes”. Lincoln, meanwhile, recorded less than an inch of rain for the whole month!

Could these rains happen again? Meteorologically, given the same synoptic set-up, it is possible. In terms of the June monthly total of rain we came close in 1997 when 133mm fell – though this was much more evenly spread throughout the month. And thanks to massive investment in local river systems since the 1950s the flooding nightmares brought by the Lea and Roding rivers should stay firmly in the past.

 

*You can see the full stats from Greenwich for June 1903 by clicking this link.

 

500hPa evolution from June 9 - June 20
500hPa evolution from June 9 – June 20