Drought 2017, S Central and SE England

I mentioned the lack of rainfall to someone earlier. Wet periods are often followed by dry ones . We can but hope this is not the case.

Tallbloke's Talkshop

Tim writes,

This drought is largely about the area where I live except this is a water feeder area for large connurbations, Reading, London, Swindon. How severe this will be is open, and is a forewarning. Late rains might arrive, I hope so although regular minor droughts are part of weather, what makes climate, always has, always will.

I’m unable to go and take a photograph of the wier status quo (using crutches and a wheelchair), been eyeballed from the road, so you’ll have to take my word for the situation. (council have obstructed the footway, inaccessible to wheelchairs, no warning signs, typical England)


Image: Google dated 08/2016. River Kennet, navigable river at Newbury. Sluices highlighted.

The usual autumn and winter rains have failed this year. I’d noticed but now the Met Office figures are in and processed, river flow is low so I see trouble brewing for next summer.

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6 thoughts on “Drought 2017, S Central and SE England

  1. I hope its not another 1976.

    Wall to wall sunshine day after day.
    Stand pipes in the street, hose pipe bans
    The grass was brown everywhere
    The soil like dust
    Hot sleepless nights
    Laying concrete inside a factory was hard work and they gave us saline orange juice because of excessive perspiration …..awful!
    Mind you the ice cream men did well as did the pubs

    I would like to hear what Piers has to say about this

    • What’s often forgotten about 1976 is the summer and long drought that preceded it;

      Summer 1975:

      For England and Wales, it was one of the ten WARMEST summers of the 20th century, though it was beaten thereafter (comprehensively) by 1976, 1983 & 1995. [CET]

      1975/76 (Winter):

      For England and Wales (using the Met Office EWR/EWP series), it was one of the six DRIEST winters in the previous 100 years, and the third consecutive season with less rain than usual: summer and autumn 1975 were also dry. Winter 1975/76 had around 61% of average rainfall over England and Wales. It was this persistence of low precipitation, particularly throughout the winter ‘re-charge’ season, that led to the severe DROUGHT problems encountered in 1976 (q.v.)

      1975 (May) to 1976 (April):

      In the EWR (later EWP) series (since 1727), the 12 month period May 1975 to April 1976 was (at the time) the DRIEST in the series; and then of course we went into the drought of ’76!

      1975/1976 (two-year drought):

      The famous DROUGHT of 1975/76 was memorable for its severity over most of the British Isles, and also for its exceptional persistence. It produced the highest values for a drought index for south-east England in three hundred years. Not since 1749/50 had a period from one summer to the following spring been so dry in southern Britain. At Oxford, every month from May 1975 to August 1976 had below average rainfall with the sole exception of September 1975. It was the DRIEST 16-month period on record for England and Wales. The severity of the drought was highlighted by the acute hydrological impact of an exceptionally dry winter being sandwiched between two hot, dry summers. The drought was most severe in south-eastern England but was felt widely across England and Wales, and the most stringent water supply restrictions were experienced in South Wales, where water was cut off for up to 17 hours a day to domestic consumers. North-west England and much of western Scotland escaped the attentions of this notable drought and were more frequently subject to the passage of fronts associated with cyclonic systems displaced northwards by the high pressure over southern England

      1976 (Spring):

      Less than 50% of normal RAINFALL in the south-east of England during spring: contributing to the ensuing problems during the SUMMER DROUGHT.

      September 1976 saw a change;

      1976 (Autumn):

      A notably VERY WET autumn for all areas ( except for north and west Scotland). In some parts of northern England, and the extreme south, 200% of average rainfall was recorded. [ Coming after the notably dry spring/summer of course. ]

      1977 (February):

      One of the WETTEST Februarys across England & Wales (using the EWP series).


      So despite a dry winter I don’t think we’re there yet. The lack of new reservoirs is unfortunate though as we often swing between drought and flood.

    • Annie I covered this earlier in the year;

      Maybe it comes down to an ever increasingly populous mostly focussed in the drier South – where we are more likely to pick up a drier continental flow than the more Atlantic influenced North and West – and a lack of reservoirs to deal with these dry patches we often hit along the way. According to a 2013 BBC article only one resevoir was built in London in the past 100 years


      Population 1971 onwards (via Wikipedia):

      South east;
      1971 6,718,771
      1981 7,025,593
      1991 7,677,641
      2001 8,000,550
      2011 8,634,750


      1971 7,452,520
      1981 6,805,000
      1991 6,829,300
      2001 7,322,400
      2006 7,657,300
      2011 8,174,100
      2015 8,615,246

      Number of reservoirs built for London? 1!!!!

      If we are to learn any lessons from the current deluge, it is that we must relearn what we have quite possibly known for millennia – that in times of feast we prepare for famine and in times of flood prepare for drought. There was a reason why year after year we practised tasks such as dredging and whitewashing houses. It is by understanding that and maintaining – modifying if need – the infrastructure, both natural and man made, which protects us from the worst ravages the weather throws at us. We just do not wave a white flag saying it ‘might possibly could’ be carbon dioxide and abandon the floodplains and seashores. If during the Napoleonic wars and a period of extreme climate change,with droughts, floods, storms, heatwaves and freezes – known as the Little Ice Age – we were able to drain and cultivate the Somerset Levels we should be able to prepare better for the next time instead of trying to go back to the dark ages.


      • That’s absolutely so craigm350. I get mad at the sheer wilfull stupidity of our ‘leaders’ whose first responsibility is the security of the nation, in every sense. They forget they are supposed to be our servants.

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