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“A Spate of Drownings” – August 1990

September 6, 2016

By Paul Homewood  




I was having a look at the heatwave in August 1990 for other reasons, but found this comment in the Met Office report about it, which is particularly relevant to the recent events at Camber Sands:




“there was a spate of drownings as people turned to swimming as a way of keeping cool.”


It is a simple fact that people rush off to the seaside when it gets hot. Unfortunately, many have little or no experience of swimming in the sea, and drownings consequently occur.

It has nothing to do with climate change.

  1. Joe Public permalink
    September 6, 2016 5:35 pm

    Then the relatives/friends of the unfortunate victims attempt to blame local authorities for having insufficient beach guards.

    Perhaps our entire 7,723 miles of coastline should have “Swim at your own risk” signs every 100 yds. In multi-culti languages & braille.

    • Peter R Blower permalink
      September 7, 2016 7:10 am

      No, that would disadvantage cerebrally-challenged illiterate swimmers.
      You need a coastguard boat stationed every 100 yards – if they worked 8h shifts that’s only about 4 million boats.

  2. September 6, 2016 6:42 pm

    Here in Fort Lauderdale the public beaches all have lifeguards and we still have occaisional drownings.

  3. Terbreugghen permalink
    September 6, 2016 7:41 pm

    I live on the OTHER side of the Atlantic halfway between Savannah, Georgia and Jacksonville Florida. Every year, and I mean EVERY YEAR, we lose people swimming in the surf. They come from parts of the country that do not have tides. They wander out to the furthest sandbar, set up a picnic, and then three hours later cannot get back to shore. It is common sense that hot weather will drive more people to swim for cooling, and that this increase has nothing whatever to do with global warming or climate change. It has to do with ignorance of the power of natural forces. I grew up in the American Midwest without tides, but it didn’t take a course in rocket science to see how dangerous tides . . . and inattention to their ebb and flow. . . could be. Sadness at each event, but hardly indicative of a climate shift.

  4. Stosh permalink
    September 6, 2016 8:13 pm

    Could it be…is it coming…are they going to switch back to Globull Warming and give up Climate Change?!?!?

  5. September 6, 2016 9:34 pm

    I remember the beginning of August 1990 well. I was at the wedding of my best man’s elder son. While the official party (the men, that is) were in morning dress, I was in a short-sleeve shirt and a kilt!
    We were only about 20 miles or thereabouts as the crow flies from wherever it was that was breaking temperature records. I don’t remember anyone mentioning global warming!

  6. ghostwhowalksnz permalink
    September 6, 2016 11:48 pm

    All the chocolate melting at the Liverpool chocolate factory intrigued me. Sounds like the manufacturing process went awray as of course they need to melt it first to make say bars.

    • Russ Wood permalink
      September 9, 2016 7:21 am

      (O/T) I remember, in the 70’s when a friend of mine worked in a biscuit factory in Liverpool, that a power failure knocked a chocolate vat off-line. The factory had to hire pneumatic frills to chip the solid (and useless) chocolate out. I used to think “What a waste!”.

  7. tom0mason permalink
    September 7, 2016 1:02 am

    Of Note during 1990 was that it was a solar maximum, and also there were huge daily variation. And all throughout this peak solar cycle there were many “coronal mass ejections” and “solar flares,” these are usually to be more common during sunspot maximum periods. 1990 was no exception.


    Solar events damaged terrestrial power lines and some satellites —

    Some effects of solar storms were far beyond the nuisance level, especially at higher latitudes. ….. On March 13, 1989, a storm plunged Quebec into a complete power blackout, affecting millions….

    … Space storms don’t even have to take a direct swipe to harm a satellite. Many satellites are placed in low Earth orbit (LEO) only a few hundred miles above the surface. During heightened solar activity, the added energy puffs the atmosphere up like a balloon, increasing atmospheric friction on LEO objects.

    One result has been the premature demise of such satellites as the Solar Maximum Mission in 1990


    Our current solar maximum by comparison has been a complete washout.

  8. September 7, 2016 12:15 pm

    Who said the drownings had anything to do with climate change? This article seems like a strawman.

  9. September 7, 2016 12:21 pm

    Why do you say “this has nothing to do with climate change”? Nobody said that these drownings were connected to climate change.

  10. Gerry, England permalink
    September 7, 2016 12:59 pm

    If this is the hottest year evah why has there been no melting of chocolate or waxworks? My impression is that this year and last have been nothing special and with cooler summers than the past.

  11. September 7, 2016 2:03 pm

    Richard Betts says he thinks your last comment is a bit of a straw man, as the Met Office 1990 summer report just said it was a hot summer, didn’t mention climate change.

  12. September 7, 2016 3:25 pm

    Wasn’t some bright spark trying to suggest that the people who drowned at Camber Sands did so because rip tides are becoming more unpredictable, in turn because summer storms are becoming more frequent with climate change and disturbing sand bars, or something. I think all Paul is trying to illustrate here is that when it’s hot, people take to the water and hence some people unfortunately end up drowning. I don’t think he was suggesting at all that the heatwave of 1990 was due to climate change, nor indicating that the Met Office was suggesting it was.

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