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Chris Smith Still Can’t Get It Right

February 11, 2013

By Paul Homewood



According to Lord Smith, Head of the Environment Agency,

“We are experiencing a new kind of rain.

Instead of rain sweeping in a curtain across the country, we are getting convective rain, which sits in one place and just dumps itself in a deluge over a long period of time. From the point of view of filling up the rivers and the drains, that is quite severe.”

It did not take a long for a queue of meteorologists to suggest he was talking nonsense, which led to this statement from the Environment Agency.

“Lord Smith has consistently said that we are seeing increasing instances of convective rain. Heavier rain from convection naturally causes more flooding, and we may well see this type of rain more frequently.”

So is he right?


The meteorologist, Bill Giles, offers this explanation of what causes convective rain.

Convective rain occurs when air rises rapidly, often on hot summer days, causing water vapour to collect into dense towers of cumulonimbus cloud that can be up to 30,000ft tall.

In light winds, the clouds move little and so when such a large quantity of water droplets fall as rain, intense, thundery showers are produced over one location.

This immediately casts doubt on Smith’s claim, as summer daytime temperatures were about a degree cooler than the long term average last year, and four of the last six have also been below average. What is more, there has been a distinct lack of sunshine in recent years.





But what do the rainfall stats tell us? Since 1961, the Met Office have recorded the number of raindays, so we can calculate the average amount of rainfall for each rainday. If Smith’s claim is correct, we would expect this average to be increasing.

The southern part of England was perhaps the most affected area last summer, as the map below shows. And, of course, it is also the part where temperatures would be highest and consequently most likely to experience convective rainfall. The bottom map defines the area that the Met Office use.


Summer 2012 Rainfall 1981 - 2010 anomaly



Analysis of summertime rainfall statistics for the South England indicates that there is no significant trend in rainfall/rainday, and that even last year’s figure had been exceeded on nine other occasions since 1961.




Meanwhile, the Met Office keep track of the various rainfall record totals. Out of 15 different records, only three are in the last 20 years, and these are all for the same event at Seathwaite.




As Bill Giles comments, “How on earth could we have appointed as chairman of the Environment Agency someone who so obviously doesn’t understand basic meteorology like Lord Smith?

It seems that Smith is so wrapped up in his global warming ideology that facts are no longer important to him. But why am I not surprised by that?

  1. Sparks permalink
    February 11, 2013 7:46 pm

    Paul there’s a program “The year Britain flooded” on tonight, Tue 12 Feb, 9PM

    • Sparks permalink
      February 11, 2013 10:56 pm


  2. mitigatedsceptic permalink
    February 11, 2013 10:09 pm

    I think that a FOI question should be put to establish the source of Smith’s statement. I don’t have time to do so at the moment – perhaps someone could oblige. The link is easy –
    He must have been briefed and even cleared his statement with his staff – even with No 10.
    Something is seriously adrift and he should be held accountable. Accountability is central to the exercise of executive authority.

    • February 11, 2013 10:32 pm

      Good idea. I’ll do tomorrow. It’s quite easy.

      • mitigatedsceptic permalink
        February 12, 2013 12:24 am

        Thank you Paul!

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