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Record Rainfall In The Lake District In 1897 And 1898

December 8, 2015

By Paul Homewood 



I have already looked at the exceptional Lake District flooding of 1898, but a year earlier there had been an arguably even bigger storm.

The following is an excerpt from the Symons British Rainfall publication for 1897:






Claims that last weekend’s rainfall in the Lakes was a 1 in 200 year event have been widely bandied around. This is clearly nonsensical, when the records tell us that similar storms hit the same area in 1897 and then again in 1898.



The 1897 Symons publication goes on to describe some of the problems faced by observers in those days, when the weather was exceptionally wet:





Finally, they give this summary of the Nov 12 storm:




Again, we find similarities with Storm Desmond, which hit the Lakes hardest.



Finally, let’s look at a table from the 1898 Symons, which I highlighted earlier. This shows the maximum daily rainfall for each year since 1865. Note just how many times the name of Seathwaite appears! It is little wonder that, when heavy rain hits the Lakes, records get set.




  1. December 8, 2015 6:28 pm

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News and commented:
    Great fond Paul

  2. December 8, 2015 6:29 pm

    May be worth looking at the NCEP reanalysis charts to see what the set up was:

  3. Tony mckenna permalink
    December 8, 2015 8:07 pm

    When you see how carefully the recording was done and the angst they felt over a spoiled measurement, it does make you wonder why so much work has to be done on improving the historical records by modern climate workers.

  4. AndyG55 permalink
    December 8, 2015 8:48 pm

    Paul, You need a section where we can draw people’s notice to off topic stuff… like this

    • December 8, 2015 10:47 pm

      Just drop it into the “About” page, Andy

      • AndyG55 permalink
        December 8, 2015 10:53 pm

        Will do in future.. if I remember. 🙂

    • December 9, 2015 1:43 am

      @AndyG55 Uclimate is a good page which aggregates recent climate skeptic blog headlines so that you don’t miss stuff. It’s by Mike Hasler.
      Similarly watcing the twitterfeeds of skeptic blogs is useful..Like for Australia Bolt’s Blog RSS headlines appear on Twitter

      Recently there is such a flow of stories its too much for one person to keep on top of, perhaps we should split up and specialise weather/climate-politics/energy etc.. I do like the way Guido divide his site into sections like gaia-fawkes etc.

  5. The Old Bloke permalink
    December 9, 2015 12:19 am

    Hello to all forum members. I have been viewing this site for quite some time and like all that come here have an interest in all things meteorological. This is my first post and it is a cut and paste from another forum which I frequent on a regular basis. I hope that it can be read O.K. and the links opened. This post is concerning the so called record of rainfall at Honister:

    So, was it a record or wasn’t it? The claim is that in Honister, Cumbria, an Environment Agency rain gauge recorded a record in the U.K for an amount of rainfall collected in 24 hours, that being 341mm. Or did it? How many of us know that the Environment Agency use different gauges to that of the Met Office and that the Environment Agency rain gauges do not conform to the “Standard” W.M.O. 5″ collection tube? Well, I did. I also know that at the last review, the E.A. gauges, mainly “tipping bucket” types are known to record spurious data as the method of collection and measuring has given rise to incorrect data. The funnel to collect the rainfall is not the standard 5″ as in the Met Office gauges but can be up to 12″ for the E.A. ones. The E.A. gathering can also be greatly affected by wind and to a lesser degree by temperature. The E.A. know that their gauges cannot be relied upon and as such ‘adjustments’ have to be made.
    I have enclosed some important links for all of the forum members and trust that they are read.
    The first is a photo of the E.A. device at Honister
    The rain gauge is the white “toilet” bowl in the back ground and this picture can be enlarged by clicking on it.

    Next is the problems pertaining to the “tipping bucket” gauges as used by the E.A.

    Click to access Evaluation%20of%20Tipping%20Bucket%20Rain%20Gauge%20Performance%20and%20Data%20Quality.pdf

    And third is the Met Office requirement as stipulated by the “standard” rain gauge which is commonly used throughout the world and regulated by the W.M.O.

    [An ordinary funnel-type raingauge has been in use for all manual measurements since the earliest days of observing. The design has varied over the years but today the Met Office strongly encourages conformity in order to maximise comparability of readings across the network. The standard design has a rim of diameter 5 in (127 mm) standing 12 in (30 cm) above the ground. Raingauges based on the standard design are adapted to meet specific needs; there is a version having a capacity to hold a large volume of rain which is used in remote sites where readings may only be taken once a month. Exposure of the gauge should be on open ground distant from the effects of sheltering objects. At a few windy sites, established a number of years ago, there may be a surrounding turf wall of diameter 3 m and height 30 cm which shields the gauge from the extreme effects of strong winds. Systematic differences as large as 12% have been noted between an unsheltered gauge and one within a turf wall. It is not the present practice to build turf walls at new station]

    To repeat, the standard Met Office gauge has a collecting neck of just 5″ whereas the E.A. in the photo above has a 12″ bowl leading to a collecting chamber. Is it no wonder that a record was set when the collecting bowl was nearly 3 times the size?

    Click to access OH_Chapter9.pdf

    Any comments welcomed.

    • Retired Dave permalink
      December 9, 2015 12:55 pm

      Old Bloke

      Thank you for posting this very full and pertinent comment. The thought of exposure and compatibility had crossed my mind. The exposure of the guage in the photo in your link is far from ideal, but I guess the EA would claim that their need is not absolute accuracy.

      The Met Office used to have Beaufort Park of course, a dedicated test facility for instrumentation as I am sure you will know but what attempt is made now to understand comparabilty I have no idea.

      Keep commenting – your knowledge is most welcome.

    • Bloke down the pub permalink
      December 9, 2015 2:17 pm

      To repeat, the standard Met Office gauge has a collecting neck of just 5″ whereas the E.A. in the photo above has a 12″ bowl leading to a collecting chamber. Is it no wonder that a record was set when the collecting bowl was nearly 3 times the size?

      As the measuring vessel would be scaled to match the size of the collecting neck, it should make no difference to the measurement. That is assuming of course that someone didn’t use a measuring vessel from a 5″ gauge in 12″ gauge. By the way, the text in your post refers to 12″ being the height of the funnel , not its diameter, is that just a coincidence?

  6. December 9, 2015 12:34 am

    Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    Climate ambulance chasers, pushing the catastrophic climate change scare, struggle with historical perspective.

    Not hard to see why….

  7. Christopher Booker permalink
    December 9, 2015 8:27 am

    From Christopher Booker:

    Your excellent posts on the Cumbrian floods lured me back to a book I bought when I was a 14-year old schoolboy in 1952, Climate and the British Scene by Gordon Manley. He described how, in the 1840s, John Fletcher Miller, one of Britain’s pioneering meteorologists living in Whitehaven, set out on “a very thorough investigation” of why rainfall increased as moist air passed over mountains, as was well evidenced in the nearby Lake District.
    In 1844 Miller set up “the first rain gauge at Seathwaite, the group of farmsteads at the hed of Borrowdale, which has since become known to thousands of Victoriaan and later schoolchildren as ‘the wettest place in England’”.
    Last week’s extreme rainfall, claimed by the Met Office and Liz Truss aa quite unprecedented, was recorded at Honister which, as you point out, is only a mile from Seathwaite and 700 feet higher up the mountain. So it is hardly surprising that it recorded even more rain than Seathwaite, further suggesting that recent rainfall in that area was probably far from unprecedented.
    Dame Julia Slingo may claim that “fundamental physics” indicate a link between this year’s rain and climate change ,and her computer models may claim that global warming has made such “extreme weather” seven times more likely. But if she referred to the Met Office’s own records and recalled what was known to “Victorian schoolchildren”, she might view these events with a rather less ideologically excitable and more scientific perspective.

    • AndyG55 permalink
      December 9, 2015 11:28 am

      Mr Booker..

      We bow to your bravery and persistence in taking on the climate establishment 🙂

      A hearty cheer from down-under. !!

  8. tom0mason permalink
    December 9, 2015 8:36 am

    Reports from the Met-Office just show what a bunch of political alarmists they are.
    Did this useless office manage to forecast this event in a timely and accurate manner — even with £millions of computers? NO!
    The Met Office — wasting vast quantities of public money as they propagate junk as science, inaccurate reports, and alarm.

    Sell the useless public disservice to any fool that is willing to buy it — now!

  9. jazznick permalink
    December 9, 2015 12:04 pm

    The great comedy and catastrophe of all this is that this information is held BY THE MET OFFICE in their own archives.

    If they cannot be bothered to check alarmist rainfall statements against their own records what chance does anyone else get to evaluate these statements. They just accept the MO’s word as ‘gospel’ as they command the ‘megaphone of truth’ (BBC)

    I think they are wilfully witholding evidence for their own purposes – it’s criminal !

  10. Andrew Duffin permalink
    December 9, 2015 12:23 pm

    “We greatly object to having to fall back on a calculation”

    If only our modern climate “scientists” had such a healthy attitude.

    In those days, “Nullus in verbia” actually meant something.

  11. Bloke down the pub permalink
    December 9, 2015 2:27 pm

    Just watched the BBC lunchtime news article about the floods. It included a piece from a site where a mass of wood had been washed down stream until it built a dam which had diverted the flow, causing the flooding. I was reminded of some of the ‘soft engineering’ schemes that have been introduced, whereby tree trunks are placed across the flow of streams to hold water back in order to reduce flash flooding. If such soft engineering has been undertaken in this area, I wonder if it got washed down stream and led to some of the flooding?

    • December 9, 2015 7:08 pm

      Apparently what got washed down the stream was largely whole trees and large branches which the Environment Agency had deliberately left near to watercourses to improve ‘biodiversity’.

      • Bloke down the pub permalink
        December 10, 2015 1:57 pm

        Much as I suspected. Do you have any references to back that up, as there’s someone who promotes this who should be made aware.

  12. December 9, 2015 8:47 pm

    Concerning “Claims that last weekend’s rainfall in the Lakes was a 1 in 200 year event have been widely bandied around. This is clearly nonsensical, when the records tell us that similar storms hit the same area in 1897 and then again in 1898.”

    The use of the term “200 year flood” is often misunderstood:

    How can we have two “100-year floods” in less than two years?

    Bob Holmes, the National Flood Coordinator for the USGS, discusses this in a podcast.
    (From the USGS CoreCast podcast and video series)

    This question points out the importance of proper terminology. The term “100-year flood” is used in an attempt to simplify the definition of a flood that statistically has a 1-percent chance of occurring in any given year. Likewise, the term “100-year storm” is used to define a rainfall event that statistically has this same 1-percent chance of occurring. In other words, over the course of 1 million years, these events would be expected to occur 10,000 times. But, just because it rained 10 inches in one day last year doesn’t mean it can’t rain 10 inches in one day again this year.

    • December 9, 2015 8:53 pm

      But how can you arrive at these stats with only a few years of data?

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