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January 7, 2015

James Dodds gives his review of 2014 and predictions for 2015, as well as a handy 2015 To Do List.

“Remember the start of 2014? While I was writing this missive at the beginning of 2014 I was looking out over the River Derwent which was out of bank. At that time I didn’t know how many records were broken in 2013 or what the winter of 2013/14 had in store for us.

2013 provided the fourth coldest March since 1910 and the hottest July day since 2006, with 33.5°C recorded at Heathrow, to be beaten on 1 August at 34.1°C.

Winter 2013/14 began in October when the first storm arrived; the highest recorded gust speed was 99 mph at Needles Old Battery (Isle of Wight). This storm was judged to be within the top ten most severe storms to affect southern England in the autumn in the last 40 years. Storms continued through December and to February 2014. Accumulated rainfall totals for the 31-day period from 11 December 2013 to 10 January 2014 were generally over twice the December average rainfall, but with a significant area of central southern England recording over three times the December average. Initially most of the weather impacts related to the strong winds, first across the north of the UK and then affecting exposed areas further south. However, as rainfall totals accumulated, the focus of concern shifted from strong winds to flooding, particularly in the Severn and Thames catchments, not forgetting Somerset. In early January, strong winds, combining with high spring tides and river flows, resulted in high water levels and large waves affecting exposed coastal communities in the south and west, causing coastal flooding. Overall the December and January storms resulted in around seven fatalities and 1,700 properties flooded across England.”

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