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Still Waiting For Chris Smith

March 30, 2013

By Paul Homewood



Head of the UK Environment Agency, Lord Smith, got himself into a bit of a pickle a few weeks ago. Interviewed in the Sunday Telegraph, he told us we were experiencing “ a new kind of rain” in the UK, referring to convective rain.

This triggered a flurry of slapdowns from experienced meteorologists, such as Bill Giles and Philip Eden, who basically said he was talking out of his ar*e.

Bill Giles summed it all up rather aptly:-


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?


The full story is here and here.


I was intrigued to see what advice Smith had received prior to making his statement, or whether it was straight out of the top of his head. So I fired off an FOI request to the Environment Agency, asking:-


1) Could you please provide details of the scientific and meteorological evidence that you have used to support both the initial statement and later clarification.

2) Please confirm whether Lord Smith had received any advice, from either within or without the Agency, prior to making his statement. If so, please provide details of such advice and who provided it.

3) Please confirm whether any advice has been requested from the Met Office, prior to the statement, and if so, what advice was given.


Two weeks ago I received the following reply:-


In response to your questions, Lord Smith was misrepresented in the original Sunday Telegraph article. He referred to his observations of increasing occurrences of convective and frontal rain events that can result in flooding in this country.

Met office preliminary analysis shows that with an increase in global temperature heavier rainfall is likely to become more frequent, as a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture. Convective rain can stay over an area for an extended period.

Lord Chris Smith receives information and advice from various internal and external sources in his capacity as Chairman of the Environment Agency. He has consistently said that we are seeing increasing intensities of convective rain events. Heavier rain from convection naturally causes more flooding.


They also pointed me to the report that the Met Office had issued about rainfall in 2012, here. This made no mention at all of convective rain.

As the Agency had failed to provide the information I had requested, I fired back a reply pointing this out. I also suggested that, if there was no such evidence or advice, they confirm this fact. Finally I asked for a transcript of the interview, so as to confirm their claim that Smith had been misquoted.

18 days later, I am still to receive a reply, other than to confirm they are dealing with my request.

My original request was sent on 12th Feb, so it has now taken them 46 days to respond. By law, of course, they are supposed to reply within 28 days.

It is absolutely clear that the information I have asked for does not exist. There is no evidence to back up Smith’s claims, he had received no specific advice, and he had not even asked the Met Office about the matter.

Furthermore, the lame excuse, that he was misquoted, is just that – a lame excuse. A reminder of what he told the Telegraph:-


“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”.

It is quite clear. Maybe he did not mean what he said, but he was not misquoted.

They may be hoping I go away and leave them in peace! If they do, they don’t know me. If I receive no reply in the next few days, I will be contacting the Information Commissioner.


Bill Giles wonders why we appointed Smith as Chairman of the Environment Agency when he does not understand basic meteorology. I would also question whether he is suitable to run the Agency, if he makes statements like this without getting the proper advice of his experts first.

  1. March 30, 2013 6:46 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Ponderings.

  2. tckev permalink
    March 31, 2013 4:04 am

    Smith’s new meteorological hypothesis based on the water melon science, very, very far from reality.

  3. A C Osborn permalink
    March 31, 2013 5:01 pm

    Go get em Tiger.

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