England's worst winter weather in at least 248 years

As most of you know already, England's dramatic sequence of winter storms since December has resulted in its worst winter on record.  England's records go back 248 years.  (Al Jazeera is reporting 300 years).  Who knows if such a series of storms has ever occurred since the climate stabilized after the last glaciation ended some 8000 years ago, this is truly uncharted territory.

The featured image above serves as a very apt and stark metaphor for just what adaption to climate change means.  That picture was taken at least ten days ago (I found it here where many other dramatic images can be seen - h/t to P3).  Since that time there has been more equally intense rainfall and hurricane force winds, I wonder if those dikes have failed.  If they haven't, will they hold the next time?  Not everyone can afford those kinds of extraordinary measures either.  Again, the foreshadowing of national and global adaption measures is sobering.

Plenty of other drama and detail here, here, and here....including a spate of sinkholes likely related to the precipitation.  Also, the MET office pushes back against our old friend (cough) David Rose here.


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At least their lawn is green. You should see mine!

I live about 10 miles from that picture (although fortunately on higher ground).

The amazing thing about this winter is that I am yet to record a sub zero temperature - there has been the odd ground frost but that's been it. But the wind and storms have been relentless; I go into my garden and walking on the lawn is like walking on a wet sponge..

This time a couple of years ago we were in the midst of a record breaking drought..

The real worry is that in theory, England should only feel moderate effects from global warming, with a mid latitude maritime climate. Other places are going to have it much, much worse. Ask a Southern Californian..

By Andrew Dodds (not verified) on 18 Feb 2014 #permalink

I think the evidence is pretty strong that the jet stream behaviour has changed. This is a very stark example of the unpredictable aspects of climate change, things hidden behind the relatively benign appearance of a few degrees average rise. After all, the average of rainfall during drought one year and flood the next is "normal".

It is possible that a wildly wobbling jet stream is the worst thing that will change given a few degrees warming, but I sure would not bet money on it...

Oh, and Andrew, can you take a boat over there and let us know if those dikes have failed or if the flood has receded?? :)

No it's not. Stay to the science. The IPPC report makes it quite clear that there is no measurable increase in extreme weather events, yet.

By Max Erwengh (not verified) on 19 Feb 2014 #permalink

"After all, the average of rainfall during drought one year and flood the next is “normal”"

I love the way you are doing statistics. Who cares about mathematics anyway, as long as any abuse of it encourages my believe system?

By Max Erwengh (not verified) on 19 Feb 2014 #permalink

Max, as valuable as the IPCC report is, it is by its nature very conservative and it is also out of date by a couple of years as soon as it is published. Plus, I wouldn't mind a supporting quote as I don't think what you have attributed to it is strictly correct. The research on changing jet stream behaviour is very new (like the unanticipated observations of said behaviour) and recent papers have indeed found increasing occurrences of extreme heat and extreme rainfall. We don't have to wait for the next IPCC report in 6 years to talk about it.

I'm really not sure what your mathematical objection is to my point other point. Averages are pretty much designed to hide extremes, no? The point is a valid one, where average rainfall in a year is 60 cm and you get 60 in one day and 0 every other day, you have in fact had average total rainfall for the year. If you still disagree, please show your work.


It's also very conservative in a biased (denial) direction by having to get agreement with POLITICS who, despite denier memes about NWO, DO NOT WANT to deal with any problems on their watch but would prefer to kick the can down the road for some other schmuck to be blamed for.

C*O's do exactly the same thing and, since neo-capitalism requires government ape and genuflect to the private sphere, have the idea that somehow this is a sane and reasonable position.

It is for the socipathic individual, but bad for the majority, something a private company doesn't have to give a fig about, but governments SHOULD.

So the IPCC AR4 was "downgraded" in certainty from 95+% to 90-95% certainty, which then was lambasted by denier idiots on two fronts:

1) "Show me where the science proves that figure!": since the science shows higher certainty and politics interfered, the "message" deniers want is that politics decided that number. That science was MORE certain is nothing they want to hear.

2) "See! The certainty is low! There's a good chance it's all bunkum, but you 'alarmists' insist 'the science is settled', but even the IPCC doesn't believe you!". Of course the fact that the science is settled is a strawman brought out by deniers by eliding what "science" they're on about is another thing that deniers do not want to hear, so never gets heard.

"Who cares about mathematics anyway, as long as any abuse of it encourages my believe system?"

Yes, Max, your faith in this as a sop to your politics and beliefs in the face of evidence is transparently apparent.

"The IPPC report makes it quite clear that there is no measurable increase in extreme weather events, yet."

Ah, someone who reads what they hope is there, not what is there, by virtue of not comprehending what it says.


It says there is no statistically significant difference in measurement, NOT that there is NO measureable difference. However, this is not the message you want, therefore you won't see it.

"It says there is no statistically significant difference in measurement"

Physics 101:
1. if there is an effect it can be measured.
2. sometimes you need to do a lot of measurements (that's the point where statistics come in; transition from mechanics to statistical mechanics which leads to thermodynamics for example)
3. if you collected your data correctly and there is no statistically significant evidence, you either did something wrong or there is propably no effect.

It is not that hard.

By Max Erwengh (not verified) on 20 Feb 2014 #permalink


Because you are describing a "random walk" where the average is zero. But climate is not Brownian Movement, ok from here I have to admit that I don't know the data of Southern England, but it sounds a bit confusing that droughts and flooding will occure randomly because of climate change. Maybe you got my point, actually I liked the post, I was just disagreeing with your comment.

By Max Erwengh (not verified) on 20 Feb 2014 #permalink

Ok I just read the article where you took an exceptional cold year saying that every year after that was warmer since. Well my previous post is useless to that, that's out of my league.

By Max Erwengh (not verified) on 20 Feb 2014 #permalink

Max, my comment was perhaps hastily written, I had in mind the general predictions that a warmer world will tend to make wetter areas wetter and dryer areas dryer (hence a potentially 0 net change), also what happened in Australia a few years ago getting tremendous rainfall in the north while Victoria suffered its worst drought on record. Climate "skeptics" did in fact trot out the misleading and irrelevant fact that as a whole continent, Australia was not abnormal.

Drought and flood alternating in the same regions is not AFAIK a solid expectation.

Net zero change is going to happen because the hydrological cycle means that every raindrop has to come from water evaporated (and is considered a negative rainfall rate).

“It says there is no statistically significant difference in measurement”

Physics 101:

Yes, dear, physics 101. Please learn what physics is and not the truncated and butchered version that you think upholds your position.

3. if you collected your data correctly and there is no statistically significant evidence, you either did something wrong or there is propably no effect


Query: is this six sided dice loaded or not?
Test: roll the dice once. Is it the average value of the dice roll:
Result: No, it is not 3.5 spots and the error bar on a single measure is infinite (see maths 101, statistics).

You: Therefore you did something wrong or there's no average!

Me: what you did wrong was assume a statistically inconclusive set could conclude something statistically.

It seems physics 101 is impenetrably hard for you Max.

im not sure if everyone here is for or against climate change or whatever but i wanted to point out something i read from august or so that said...

the guys monitoring the sun
were predicting that its magnetic poles should be zeroing out in about 4 months which is pretty close to now
cause every 11 years or so the sun does that...
maybe its related

By will motil (not verified) on 20 Feb 2014 #permalink

Hi will,

Apologies in advance because people may be rather rude to you....

The position of this blog is "for" science and the science is pretty unequivocal that the current climate change is real and is human caused. That said, I am definitely against it! :)

I am not aware of any correlation between earthly weather and the solar cycle.

"cause every 11 years or so the sun does that…
maybe its related"

Yup, the climate models already include the effect. They don't model the sun's atmosphere, therefore they don't predict WHEN these events happen, but part of the reason for the reduction in slope in the last 17 years, which, by the way, is the reason for the much higher than modelled trend in the 17 years previous to that, is just such a cycle.

So when the cycle returns to the higher state, the heating will, like it did in the near two decades before the 1998 cherry pick, increase the warming rate rapidly.

coby, lest we forget: try going on to WUWT and asking about how they "know" that AGW is wrong or ask any other pertinent question that they do not like and you'll get to see what "rude" looks like.

"....im not sure if everyone here is for or against climate change or whatever....

Well, I am neither for or against climate change, because I know it happens all the time.

But if you ask me if I think it is a good thing that humans are causing catastrophic changes to the ecosystem that we all rely upon for our current civilisation to survive in its present form. Or whether or not I think it is a good thing for humans to be causing the greatest mass extinction of species since an asteroid caused the extinction of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous period?

And since I am not a complete moron or a denier with my head stuck up my arse, then the answer is pretty obvious don't you think?