Tuesday, February 11, 2014

It made a nice change…

…to wake up to this, though I’m not sure my North American readers would agree. J




This winter has been almost continuously grey and extremely wet and windy, with catastrophic results for communities along our two biggest rivers and southern and western coasts. With another two severe storms due to hit us between tomorrow and the weekend, I couldn't help rejoicing at the sight of proper winter weather – just for a little while.


The rain has been so heavy and prolonged that it could be weeks or even months before all the flood-waters subside, since the water table has reached the surface in many places and the excess water has nowhere to go. My heart goes out to those who are struggling to protect their homes and carry on with daily life in the face of nature’s extremes.

This afternoon we all had a respite and the sun even shone. Tomorrow DH and I will be battening down the hatches and hoping the wind speed doesn't reach the 70mph gusts being forecast for our area. Fingers crossed - replacing roof tiles isn't really what we want to see on our to-do list at the moment...

56 comments:

  1. We have had no snow here in Derbyshire this winter, at least not in our area. No doubt it's different in the High Peak.
    It has been a thoroughly depressing winter even so, with all the rain and wind. It's impossible to find anywhere to walk the dog without her ending up covered in mud and I'm fed up with the continuous drone of the drier as we strive for a constant supply of clean dog towels!
    I hardly dare complain considering the plight of all those people whose homes and livelihoods are in ruins. Like you, my heart hoes out to them.
    Were winters always this hard? Or do we just find them more difficult as we get older?

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    1. This is only the second covering we've had, Jean and like the other it isn't lasting long now the heavy rain has started again. I sympathise with the difficulty of walking Lulu when everywhere is so sodden and muddy. Not a big thing, but still an irritation when it happens every day.

      We've had wet winters before and long winters before, but I must say I can't remember such a prolonged period of rain and wind as we're enduing this time. Age doesn't help either - I creak a bit more than I used to, especially when it's cold and wet.

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  2. Hari OM
    As hard as it is, snow is somehow way more acceptable than all that water (though not sure you would have agreed this time last year...!) Meanwhile, yesterday and today we have had the very high winds... little else though. Hope you are continuing to strengthen your good self! YAM xx

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    1. The snow was lovely while it lasted, Yam, but is already rapidly disappearing under the onslaught of yet more rain. I can hear the wind getting up too, though it's meant to be at its peak early this evening. I gather you've escaped the snow which has affected parts of Scotland, though very high winds are not much fun either.

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  3. No, lifting roof tiles is against doctor's orders!

    This has been a terrible winter for farmers as well as householders. I do hope that now the government has belatedly brought in the Armed Forces we shall see some amelioration....though the timing of it now as the wealthy areas of the Thames Valley became affected did make me smile somewhat.

    I should like to see those that gave planning permission for development in flood plains to be made to bear something of the cost and was most indignant at the view that one only had ones' self to blame if buying a house in those areas. It is quite reasonable to assume that if planning permission has been granted safety has been taken into account.

    Friends in France - out of the floods, thank goodness - are worried about the vines. The sap has not descended, given the mild winter, giving rise to fears of infections and there is always the risk that the buds will burst prematurely at which point a sharp frost could do untold damage.

    Here the trade winds are belting at unprecedented speeds - we are sheltered here by the mountain behind - but nothing like the storms you are experiencing in Europe.

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    1. Helen, you're as cynical as I am about the sudden flurry of ministerial interest now the floods are affecting all those voters in the Thames Valley! It's the second winter running that farmers on the Somerset levels have seen their autumn-sown crops riot in floodwater and there are plenty of others having problems across southern and western England, but they haven't attracted the same kind of media or political interest.

      As for the blame game, people have to live somewhere and as long as London exerts such a magnetic pull on business, there will be pressure to build in the south-east. Thankfully new developments have to be built so that rainwater doesn't flow into the drains but can be absorbed by the ground, though even this doesn't help when the groundwater level has reached the surface.

      This winter's weird weather is affecting agriculture everywhere - vines in France, and from what I've just read, almonds in California which grows four-fifths of the world's supply and is entering its fourth year of drought. Sigh....

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  4. I can imagine that seeing snow made a huge change after the winter you've been having there. It looks very pretty.

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    1. Snow always looks lovely here, Jennifer, but sadly it was just a fleeting beauty this time.The rain has arrived and the snow is melting fast. :-(

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  5. The snow looks beautiful to me too, but then again I'm from the only part of Canada that hasn't been hit with record cold and snow this winter! I hope the storms don't end up being as severe as forecast. So many places in the UK seem to be suffering from flooding and damage right now. Stay safe, and I hope your roof tiles remain intact.

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    1. I was very aware of North American sensibilities when I wrote this, Kristie, but knew from your blog that you hadn't been affected this time. Today's storm could bring gusts of up to 100mph on the coast of Wales, but we're fortunate to be 40 miles inland, so it shouldn't be quite as rough. I just hope the high winds don't coincide with high tide, or there'll be more coastal damage.

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    1. And the sun even shone in the afternoon. :-) Going fast now as the rain pours down....

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  7. That snow looks so pretty. Last time I was in snow would have been 1974 when we took my parents down to Wellington to get the ship home.

    We have been seeing the terrible flooding over there on our news. Keep safe.

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    1. I was quick to take some photos before it started to melt. :-) I know it's South Island that gets most of the snow in NZ. but I didn't realise you don't get snow at all where you are. I would miss snow....

      The floods are still getting worse and we're forecast to get another month's worth of rain this week alone!

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  8. I must admit that the snow does look a marked improvement on all the rain you've been experiencing, Perpetua. We'll happily have some of your snow here in Prague where the winter has been ridiculously mild & the Czech ski resorts are closed for lack of snow. But please don't send the rain after our recent experience of flooding in June last year :-(

    I do hope the winds are not as strong as has been forecast & that your roof tiles stay where they belong!

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    1. It was lovely while it lasted, Ricky, but has already almost melted, not the rain has returned:-( I gather that north-western Europe has had snow when we've had rain, but I didn't realise it hadn't reached as far as Prague.You'd have to beg snow from the Scottish Highland where the mountains have had incredible amounts this winter. The snow there is three times as deep as at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. As for the wind, we can only wait and see....

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  9. Dear Perpetua, It is indeed a nice change; isn't it wonderful how a dusting of crystal white snow can make anything look beautiful, and your first picture is really pretty. The floods of England have been on our TV today, and are very shocking and sad for all the people inundated. I hope the wind is not too bad, your roof tiles remain intact, and in any case, that you keep safe and dry!

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    1. The transformative effect of snow is one of the things I love about winter, Patricia - that and the 'bare bones' look of the landscape with leafless trees. I've lost count of the number of photos I've taken of our ash-tree in snow. :-)

      I've just checked the weather forecast and our area has been upgraded to a red warning for wind - the most severe category, so I've got my finger and toes firmly crossed....

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  10. Perpetua, I do hope you both, and your roof stay safe. The flooding of the Thames made our supper hour news last night. I felt like crying. Canada has it share of flooding, but the pictures looked so terrible, it made me want to cry. All of those homes and families, so sad. Do take good care with the storms coming.

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    1. Thanks, Bonnie. It's been very rough indeed this afternoon, but we won't be able to check for damage until tomorrow when the wind should have died down a bit. There has been yet more rain today which won't have helped the flooding one bit. it's not just the Thames Valley either. The flooding is very bad along the River Severn also. We keep breaking all the wrong kind of records. :-(

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  11. In spite of our winter here, I still love the look of snow, Perpetua, and can only imagine its relief in beauty after so many days of rain. We've been seeing reports of the floods there and the devastation. I do hope that those predicted 70 mph winds don't arrive. Stay safe, my friend.

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    1. Thanks, Penny. The snow looked so lovely, but alas we didn't have it for long. Today it's been washed away by yet more rain, driven by some very strong winds. There have been gusts of over 100mph on the Welsh coast, with travel disruption and power cuts as well as damage. And there's more to come on Friday. Sigh.....

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  12. I can see how snow is preferable to the continual rain leading to disastrous flooding; snow melts and apart from making the air cooler, at least it does not cause the damage of flooding. I hope the winds are mild and that your roof tiles stay intact, and please ... stay safe!

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    1. You're right, Shirley. Snow melts so slowly that it doesn't usually cause flooding, but unfortunately we didn't have much and we're now back to rain and high winds.It's actually rather cold today and further north the rain is starting to fall as snow over the hills, with blizzard conditions because of the wind. We'll see tomorrow how the roof tiles have fared. :-)

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  13. The photos you share are beautiful, Perpetua, but the news footage of the flooding is hard for me to imagine, really. Devastating! I hope the winds simply don't materialize and that you are spared anything that causes damage. I send a prayer!

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    1. I love sharing my snow images, Debra, but you really wouldn't want to see an views of today. The very high winds are easing now, but we'll have to wait until tomorrow to see whether we have any damage. I wish we could somehow ship our excess water to you in California, where you so desperately need it.

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  14. Please stay safe. Let the wind blow mild to keep your replaced roof tiles safe.

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    1. Thanks, WW. The winds were very fierce through the afternoon but have eased off a little now. Despite a few flickers we've managed to retain power, which is good. We'll have to inspect the roof tiles tomorrow.

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  15. Dear Perpetua - the continual rain and the news every evening is depressing. The TV tends to show the SW and the Thames Valley, but apparently fields across the whole country are flooded. I can't imagine how our poor farmers will survive this, and the relentless flooding of homes is heartbreaking for their owners.

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    1. Very depressing indeed, rosemary, even just to watch, but it must be so dreadful for those whose homes are flooded or threatened. There's a great deal of farmland now under water from the Midlands south and the damage to crops will be very serious. I was glad to see that money has now been set aside to help farmers and that other farmers are kindly contributing feed for the livestock.

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  16. It's been incredibly mild here. I expect winter will hit us with full force in March just when all the buds are out. Today, we're expecting 15°C this afternoon!

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    1. It's been a weird winter in so many places, Sarah. We've had barely a handful of frosts all winter so the garden pests will probably run riot this summer. Enjoy your 15C. We're not forecast more than 7C over the next few days and of course the constant wind makes it feel colder without being frosty.

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  17. It seems that all farmers are having a bad winter - here we have too little rain, which combined with the high temperatures makes it a great winter for us non farmers. But we will feel the hit in our pockets as vegetables continue to rise in price.

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    1. Not enough rain for you and other parts of the eastern Mediterranean and also places like California, while we have so much water we can't get rid of it. Crops will suffer in either case and as you say, so will our pockets.

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  18. I've just been listening to the flooding problems in an area where I used to live - Staines - and listening to local people complaining how inconsiderate drivers are, who go past so fast that they create waves that come into the houses. On the other hand, I've also been hearing how people are pulling together and helping each other out. Either way, it's not nice. I do hope it will stop raining soon.
    Here, it's miserable and the streams are definitely filling up but next week, we have a lovely forecast. I hope your hatches are well battened down and you enjoy the beautiful views whilst they last.
    Axxx

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    1. It's always worse listening to reports from somewhere we know, as we can so easily flesh out the reports with our own memories of the place. I think there has been a lot of community spirit and mutual self-help, but sadly there are always some who only think of their own needs and convenience. The police and armed forces are even having to keep an eye out for looters trying to take advantage of so many houses being empty. Grrr!

      I'm sorry your weather is miserable too. it seems as though the whole of western Europe is suffering. Enjoy your better weather when it comes. All we're being promised for next is slightly longer gaps between the big depressions. I don't even have beautiful snow to look at - the rain has melted it all. Sigh....

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  19. Apart from a few wet flakes we missed the snow, sadly, but we certainly have the winds today and you are closer to the worst of it than us ... fingers crossed for your roof tiles and your trees. Stay safe x

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    1. Sorry you missed the snow, but it didn't hang around very long in any case. All gone now, thanks to today's rain. The winds have been very strong indeed, though still considerably less than on the coast, and we'll have to check the house and garden for damage tomorrow. At least we still have power.

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  20. I've been wondering how you have been faring this winter. Southport has had a very easy time of it -- somehow we are protected in this little patch tucked between The Welsh hills, the Cumbrian Mountains and the Pennines. Must admit to feeling a tad disgruntled at all the media attention being given to the plight of the Thames Valley compared to other parts of the UK. And I await with interest to see exactly what 'money is no object' turns out to really mean... I won't go on!! Hope you both are staying warm and cozy and the roof tiles stay in place!

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    1. It's been very wet and windy as it has in most of southern and western Britain, Broad, but at least, being on a hill, we've been spared the flooding. Southport of course is known for its mild microclimate, but I reckon even you will be feeling the force of the winds that are now battering the North-West.

      Like you. I'm rather cynical about the sudden focus of media and political attention on the Thames Valley. many other places are badly affected, but they're much further away from London. From what I've been reading it sounds as though 'money no object' can be translated as 'we'll spend the contingency funds in you, but there won't be any new money'.

      It's been extremely rough here this afternoon and we'll be inspecting the roof tiles tomorrow.

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  21. Dear Perpetua, hope your tiles are still intact. Oh what a day it's been today - I can't remember winds as strong as they've been today - and the rain .... Definitely a day to batten down the hatches.

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    1. Oh, so do I, Molly. We've been hearing bumps and bangs but it's been too wild to go outside to investigate. That will have to wait until tomorrow when it should be quieter. If it's been as bad as this with you and me, I hate to think what it's been like on the coast. :-(

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  22. I'm sure seeing the snow must have made a nice change from all the rain, even if it was short-lived. Extreme weather all over the world. As BtoB said, shortage of rain here has been a problem. The UK must be getting our share. Hope you survive the storms Perpetua...Stay safe xxx

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    1. It was lovely while it lasted, Ayak, though sadly that was only for one day. Today we're back to the rain and some extremely high winds. It's eased off from this afternoon, but is still very windy out there. We'll see tomorrow whether we have any damage. I really wish we could send you our excess rain. We've probably had your share and some other country's too.

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  23. I didn't think I'd see snow this year. We haven't had any but it's nice to see it all the same. This awful weather is really going on a bit now - I feel so grateful that in Essex we've not seen anything like that which has been wreaking havoc in the south and west of the country. Patricia x

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    1. Yes, it's been very different from last year where snow is concerned, Patricia. We've had a couple of thin coverings, but neither has lasted more than a day. As for the rest of the weather, I've never known a winter like it. Thankfully it sounds like tomorrow's storm may be the last big one, with the weather calming down a bit after that. Fingers crossed....

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  24. Snow is always beautiful. I'm glad it was snow that greeted you and not those terrible rains. I also am so sorry to hear the news of all the floods near you. I hope the winds miss you.

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    1. It was beautiful while it lasted, Sally, which was for just one day before the heavy rain returned. The winds were very strong, but luckily we had very little damage. We're just coming out of yet anther storm as I write - the third in a week! Thankfully it should be quieter next week.

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  25. Oh, no, not the rains again! The snow was so lovely! You're seriously due for a wonderful, mild spring someday very soon!

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    1. Oh, yes, Kathy. We had three storms altogether with a month's worth of rain falling in a week. The snow didn't last long. It's the thought of spring that keeps us going. :-)

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  26. The first of our cowslips are flowering which is early -- and lovely; but it remains a boggy soggy mess out there and there's never enough respite to get out and do anything!
    We would have loved some snow too :-)

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    1. Gosh, cowslips already? That's very early, but must be so encouraging for you after your rotten winter. Rain, but no snow, is just miserable. :-(

      Here the snowdrops have just been joined by the crocuses, but that's all so far. Not a hint of any wild flowers, not even the odd colts-foot or adventurous primrose, which can appear in January sometimes.

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  27. Dear Perpetua, several times last week, the national news on NBC ran footage about the rain and flooding in Britain. In one segment the correspondent was in a helicopter flying over a devastated area saying that this was a well-known area of lakes but that with the flooding, one couldn't pinpoint where the lakes really were anymore. I so hope that everyone there soon gets a needed and lengthy respite from the rain and the winds. And I also hope that you are continuing to feel better and that the kitchen duties have not become onerous for your husband. Peace.

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    1. Thanks, Dee. Respite is what we're all hoping for and this week's forecast is definitely better than we've had recently. I'm amazed NBC can find space for more weather-related news coverage, given the terrible winter storms you've been having. I do hope you get some signs of spring soon.

      I'm feeling much better now, thanks, and have taken kitchen work back into my own hands, with DH doing the lifting and carrying for me where necessary. :-)

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  28. I heard about all this terrible rain you have been receiving. Here, the weather has returned to normal – yesterday it was sunny, same today and by Thursday we will be back in the 70s F range (21 C) which is actually warmer than usual – what a difference a week makes! I have read though that because of global warming our winters will become colder and wetter in the future (and our summers warmer.)

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    1. 21C! How wonderful. Here the forecast says we might reach 10C tomorrow, before it becomes colder again. At least the heavy rain has stopped and the wind is much lighter. I too have been reading about the changes global warming may bring. Over here the last few years have been very wet and not just in winter. There was a huge storm in the summer of 2007 which flooded over 40,000 properties in several different areas. After that the flood defences were improved which is why this time less than 5000 homes have been flooded. It's still too many, but a great improvement nonetheless.

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