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Heatwaves & Flash Floods The “New Normal”? They Always Have, Hayley!

August 9, 2019

By Paul Homewood


Hayley Fowler, Professor of Climate Change Impacts, writes in The Conversation:


“It’s hard to believe, isn’t it, that we had a heatwave just last week?”

Those words were spoken by a BBC news presenter, in front of graphic images of fire service rescues, as heavy rain caused floods and landslides which closed many roads and railway lines. In recent days there have dramatic floods across the north of England, particularly around Manchester, the Peak District and Yorkshire.

For me, this is personal, as I am from the worst affected area. I went to high school where people spent the night in their Civic Hall. Three miles away from where I grew up, a dam holding back Toddbrook Reservoir has been at risk of collapse and the town of Whaley Bridge was evacuated. But I’m not surprised that we are seeing flash flooding and I expect it to get worse in the future.

I am a professor at Newcastle University, where I lead a large research group focused on understanding changes to intense rainfall events and flash floods. Over the past eight years we’ve been working closely with colleagues at the UK Met Office to develop new very high-resolution climate models that can simulate these very intense summer storms and therefore predict what might happen in a warming climate.

Our models tell us that by 2080 summers in the UK will be much hotter and drier. Heatwaves will be more common. In fact a report released by the Met Office on the same day as the latest flash floods tells us that heatwaves are already happening more often. When Cambridge recently hit 38.7℃, the UK became one of 12 countries to break its national temperature record this year.

The world is warming. But although UK average summer rainfall is predicted to decrease, our models tell us that when it does rain it will be more intense than has been the case. Flash flooding in the UK is generally caused by intense rainstorms, where more than 30mm falls in an hour. Climate models predict these will happen five times more often by 2080.

Part of the reason for this is the simple fact that warmer air can hold more moisture. But that’s too simple: the availability of moisture also increases in areas close to warm oceans – warmer sea surface temperatures cause more moisture to be evaporated into the atmosphere, providing additional fuel for these intense storms. And here’s the scary bit: the Atlantic Ocean provides a vast source of moisture for storms in the UK.

But that’s not the whole story. Heavy, short rain storms are intensifying more rapidly than would be expected with global warming (what we call the Clausius-Clapeyron relationship). Research also suggests that more intense storms can themselves grow bigger, and with both the intensity of the rainfall and the spatial footprint of the storm increasing, the total rainfall in an “event” could double.

What’s more, the larger storms seem to have an ability to draw in more moisture from the surrounding area and become even more intense: the additional energy (heating) fuelling the uplift of air within the storm’s core draws in even more moisture from the surface, allowing them to grow even larger, with more potential for flooding. These also provide the perfect ingredients for large hail storms.

Leaving aside the nonsense about by 2080 summers in the UK will be much hotter and drier, for which there is no evidence whatsoever, what about all of this extreme rainfall? Surely with our warmer climate, there should be clear evidence of this already?

Unfortunately for Hayley’s little theory, the data tells us otherwise.

KNMI provide a useful tool for analysing daily data, and below are all of the graphs of daily rainfall for long running English sites, with 100 years of data.

(Question – shouldn’t the Met Office be providing similar data, instead of trying to charge for it?)

time series

time series

time series

time series

time series

time series

time series

time series

time series

time series

time series


I can see no evidence in any of these plots to support the assertion that rainfall is becoming more intense. These are of course all year round figures, not just summers. But the same argument about “warmer atmosphere” applies just as much in winter. (And has continually been wheeled out every time we get some heavy rain then).


Using the KNMI data, I have run an analysis of days with over 30mm of rain at Oxford, which has the longest data record:



There was a spate of really heavy rainfall days between 1920 and 1980. Since then there has been no discernible difference from the earlier years in the series.


The trouble with climate scientists, such as Hayley Fowler, is that their theories and computer models are all that matter. Hell, if the actual data disagrees, just ignore it!

And the reason is simple. That is her job, to model the impact of climate change on extreme rainfall and its effects.

She is extremely well funded by the European Research Council, the Natural Environment Research Council, the Wolfson Foundation and the Royal Society. Can you imagine that funding still coming in, if she found that climate change will make little difference to extreme rainfall?

No, neither can I!

  1. stephen kent permalink
    August 9, 2019 3:09 pm

    She and “her colleagues” get paid for this rubbish? Professor of claptrap!

    • August 9, 2019 4:47 pm

      “I am a professor at Newcastle University, where I lead a large research group”. The waste of taxpayers’ money on “climate change” is a catastrophe (to use the modern terminology).

      Just think of the good things that could be done if all the money wasted on “climate change” research was spent on research into diseases etc.

  2. Alan Haile permalink
    August 9, 2019 3:25 pm

    For ‘evidence’ of these future catastrophes she has only her precious ‘models’ which have been discredited so many times I can’t believe anyone would still put any faith in them.

    What is the answer to 8/2(2+2) ? The answer depends on which model of calculator you use. Think about climate models which perform calculations like this all the time.

  3. Eddie P. permalink
    August 9, 2019 3:26 pm

    But she’s a professor of climate change impact so she must be right, mustn’t she? [Now off to remove my tongue from my cheek.]

  4. DAVID C TAYLOR permalink
    August 9, 2019 3:27 pm

    I am delighted there is actual historic data to counter the wholly biased claims of these so called Met experts. However, I am concerned these people are not being held to account for the money the masses of public money they spend and the drivel they are delivering. If it was a private business spouting this stuff in order to sell their product the regulator would be down on them so fast.

    • wheewiz permalink
      August 9, 2019 3:38 pm

      As well the police. Is there any difference between someone conning the public purse out of social security for which they do not qualify, and |Hayley conning the taxpayer, through the “research councils”, out of much alrger amounts of money ?

  5. john cooknell permalink
    August 9, 2019 3:40 pm

    No evidence at all but what matters this to a Professor, well here is evidence the Dam at Whaley Bridge failed many times and has often need the services of Messrs Thwackit and Bodgit.

    76. Toddbrook Incident date: December 1964 Construction details The reservoir was constructed in 1840-41 to supply water to the Peak Forest canal. It is on the north-west edge of the Peak District National Park near Whaley Bridge. The embankment is 24 m high with 1:2 upstream and downstream slopes. Further details of the dam construction are given in Incident No. 23. Incident description The water level was one metre above the spillway crest for a period of 24 hours following heavy rain and it took another two days for the level to fall to normal top water level. Damage was caused to the lower part of the spillway channel. Some parts of the side walls were washed out and some erosion took place on the right bank adjacent to the downstream toe of the dam. The main deterioration was caused by excessive flow down the spillway. Response The 1964 flood damage was repaired in 1965 and subsequent flood studies confirm the spillway was inadequate to take the design flood. An additional spillway was built in 1969 with a 75-m weir built over the southern section of the embankment discharging over a concrete-protected portion of the downstream face. The sill level is above the original spillweir level. Lessons The incident showed that despite the dam being in existence since 1840, the spillway was inadequate. The incident instigated a flood study of the reservoir resulting in an additional spillway constructed.

    22. Toddbrook Incident date:1977 Construction details The 24-m high dam consists mainly of boulder clay with sands and gravels. There is doubt about the existence of a puddle clay core even though it is shown on the original construction drawings. The dam is founded on fluvio-glacial sand and gravels, glacial till overlying a faulted sequence of mudstones, sandstones and shales of the Millstone Grit Series and Lower Coal Measures. Incident history The dam has a history of leakage. Since 1880, there were complaints about leakage into mine workings. In 1930 leakage was observed at the toe of the downstream slope. As a result of an Evidence Report – Lessons from historical dam incidents 124 investigation into the leakage,a depression was found on the upstream slope. This was investigated in 1931 and the area was then reinstated. Incident description In November 1975 when the reservoir was low, a depression was noted in the same position on the upstream face as the 1931 depression. In Autumn 1977, 120 mm of subsidence was measured since 1975. The reservoir was emptied to inspect the full extent of the depression and revealed a crater approximately four metres across at the upstream toe partly infilled with silt and into which a tree appeared to have been sucked. Investigations Extensive investigation included boreholes, sampling and piezometers. Exploratory shafts were sunk on the upstream and downstream faces between 1978 and 1980. In 1981, a 1.2-m diameter masonry culvert was found beneath the dam, possibly for stream diversion during construction. Tracer tests showed this to have formed a leakage path through the dam. Remedial works In 1981, a compacted clay blanket was placed over the suspect area of the upstream toe and the bed of the reservoir. To solve the leakage problem, a single row grout curtain 60 m long within the clay core was formed using the system. The reservoir was refilled in December 1983. Lessons Until the reservoir was drawn down, the extent of the crater caused by erosion was unknown. The good practice of periodic inspection of the upstream face of a dam is illustrated by this incident. References: Anon, 1977; Anon, 1978; Binnie, 1987.

  6. jack broughton permalink
    August 9, 2019 3:46 pm

    The saddest fact is that the UK meja will leap on this “professor says….” No one will report the criticism of it, just the “Fear campaign”. The 1984 Ministry of Truth is alive and active now in western News publications.

    I have seen no mention in any of our meja of the massive expansions of coal in the eastern world that make the EUs puny and much-acclaimed reductions a total nonsense.

  7. Ian Wilson permalink
    August 9, 2019 3:59 pm

    “What we call the Clausius-Clapeyron relationship” reminded me instantly of Saki’s brilliant humour story “The Shartz-Metterklume Method”,the title being a fictitious name intended to sound scientific.
    You can read it on the internet – almost guaranteed to bring a smile to anyone’s face.

  8. dearieme permalink
    August 9, 2019 4:19 pm

    “What we call the Clausius-Clapeyron relationship”: what, were they smooching?

    Anyhoo, Mr Paul Homewood, this is as good a time as any to tell you that you are doing an excellent job. Thank you for your efforts.

  9. Athelstan. permalink
    August 9, 2019 4:31 pm

    her job is to reinforce and advocate the global warming BS and that’s all we need to know.

  10. August 9, 2019 4:44 pm

    A recent study says ‘throughout history, northern Europe has tended to get wetter and southern Europe to get drier during warmer periods.’

  11. August 9, 2019 4:45 pm

    Throwing cold water on extreme heat hype
    By Dr. Joel N. Myers, AccuWeather Founder and CEO
    A story came to my attention recently that merited comment. It appeared in London’s The Telegraph, and was headlined, “Give heat waves names so people take them more seriously, say experts, as Britain braces for hottest day.”

    The story’s leaping-off point was a press release from the London School of Economics (LSE), which noted, “A failure by the media to convey the severity of the health risks from heat waves, which are becoming more frequent due to climate change, could undermine efforts to save lives this week as temperatures climb to dangerous levels.”

    It added, “So how can the media be persuaded to take the risks of heat waves more seriously? Perhaps it is time … to give heat waves names [as is done] for winter storms.”

    We disagree with some of the points being made…

  12. Rupert Wyndham permalink
    August 9, 2019 5:02 pm

    “The trouble with climate scientists, such as Hayley Fowler,…” is that they’re not scientists. They’re not even intelligent laymen.

  13. Chris Martin permalink
    August 9, 2019 5:24 pm

    Is it just me or do I see an increased frequency of this sort of nonsense this year – and the fact that it is from a supposed ‘academic’ is even more depressing. I have had a lay interest climate and historical climatology for the last 40 years and read hundreds of scientific papers. For anyone who knows ANYTHING about the sort of weather events that we have experienced in our country over past centuries any claim that our weather this summer has been at all ‘extreme’ is plain ignorant. We are, perhaps, the country with the best records anywhere – both instrumentally and also from diarists and writers. Even a cursory study of the literature, or even a cursory dip into the archives of our newspapers will show that every year something unusual or ‘extreme’ occurs somewhere in our country and floods, droughts, heatwaves and all other manner of events are part of our normal weather. It is as if the world has gone mad that so-called educated people put forward such plainly stupid nonsense; and the idea that any of these computer models can predict the future is insane – we know this from the last twenty or more years they have been pushing this stuff.

    • A C Osborn permalink
      August 9, 2019 6:09 pm

      No their world has not gone mad, she is being paid a small fortune for this rubbish.
      So why wouldn’t she spout it.

  14. Derrick Byford permalink
    August 9, 2019 5:30 pm

    We’re all gonna die! Most stupid climate tweet ever?

    Michael Flammer

    “Professor Johan Rockström @jrockstrom, Head of @PIK_Climate calculated the probability for the extinction of humanity at 450ppm (a 6°C warmer planet) to 1.6%. “That would be the same as accepting to have 1500 aircrafts crashing…every day.”

    “And the baseline 450 ppm is already 5 years ago!”

    “Not only the 1.6% for 6°C but also a staggering 7% for catastrophic 4°C.”

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      August 9, 2019 6:16 pm

      What? None of that makes any sense. He can’t possibly calculate the probability of our extinction and even if he could, it doesn’t equal planes crashing every day.

      And frankly I wouldn’t spend much money if we have a 98.3% chance of not going extinct.

  15. August 9, 2019 5:59 pm

    It’s a pity that Professor Fowler doesn’t speak to Professor Valentina Zharkova at the Poly down the road. Zharkova’s Astrophysics, especially her decoding of the Sun is closing in on Climate Scientists. I they could work together Professor Fowler might produce something useful.

  16. steve permalink
    August 9, 2019 6:12 pm

    It is strange that women seem to talk more bolllocks than men, on average, despite having fewer. I hope this remark isn’t marked down as sexist.

  17. Phoenix44 permalink
    August 9, 2019 6:14 pm

    “Heavy, short rain storms are intensifying more rapidly than would be expected with global warming…”

    So the data disproves her theory?

  18. Phoenix44 permalink
    August 9, 2019 6:23 pm

    And which heatwaves are happening more often than which previous heatwaves? Heatwaves like this year’s have a clear and defined proximate cause. Where is the evidence that that proximate cause is being affected by Climate Change? It just does not exist. And when those heatwaves occurred, other ares suffered considerably colder than average temperatures – because all that happened was that hot air was sucked from the South to the North.

    This is just wrong, wholly false stuff. It conflates some real, actual facts with some possible stuff and with the predictions of models. Utterly unscientific and utterly dishonest.

  19. Jon Scott permalink
    August 9, 2019 7:30 pm

    I need to research this “professor a little. She writes in a very strange way for someone with a scientific background. All that was needed was for her job title to be given and then her spiel but to treat us all to “I am a professor at Newcastle University, where I lead a large research group focused on understanding changes to intense rainfall events and flash floods”. Well! Am I supposed to be impressed by her title and the fact she “lead a large research group” . She says it as if that gives her complete authority. I think she needs all she can get because the following leaves a lot to be desired. She seems to be impressed by her title and the fact that she has been considered fit to rule over others. I will hold judgement on that.

    She follows on with ” Over the past eight years we’ve been working closely with colleagues at the UK Met Office to develop new very high-resolution climate models that can simulate these very intense summer storms and therefore predict what might happen in a warming climate”

    Here we go…more worthless models producing the “worst case scenarios ” they need to keep the money flowing for her rotten job. If the silly woman would BE her job title then she would look backwards where she would find REAL data which makes a nonsense out of her over emotional babble! Is this what passes for a professor in the sciences today in my university? Dear God!

    • Duker permalink
      August 10, 2019 1:38 am

      She seems to have a technical background as a Hydroclimatologist, and while at Newcastle University really works for the Tyndall Centre
      ‘Hayley did a BA in Geography at Cambridge University (1996) before moving to Newcastle University for an MSc in Water Resource Systems Engineering (1997) and PhD in climate change impacts on water resources (2000), staying at Newcastle for her post-doctoral training.

      • Athelstan. permalink
        August 10, 2019 6:03 am

        BA in Geog’


        Msc, ‘Water resource systems engineering’

        very grand and “engineering”

        engineering what though – engineering lies?

  20. john cooknell permalink
    August 9, 2019 7:54 pm

    The Professors paradigm is based on her models, there is no evidence to back them up. Its all just confirmation bias and complete bullsh**.

    She gives Toddbridge Reservoir potential collapse as evidence, not entirely sure what she thinks this proves, and she has got that completely wrong.

    Surprisingly I learnt something useful by listening to the BBC Inside Science radio programme yesterday, a lady who is a member of the Dam Inspection Board explained things quite clearly.

    A Category A Dam like Toddbridge (Cat A is where Dam failure would result in people being at risk) would be designed to withstand/pass through a one in ten thousand year flood. The Reservoir Design Flood has a huge safety margin. So nothing at all to do with a rainfall event, so Shukman and his like are idiots.

    So something has seriously gone wrong with the operation and maintenance of the Reservoir as it has several times before. 1931, 1964, 1978, 2009

    The real scientific mystery, that defies all explanation, is the haircut of the Assistant Chief Constable of Derbyshire, what was she thinking of!

    • Bertie permalink
      August 9, 2019 9:08 pm

      Positive discrimination is ensuring that unsuitable candidates in many professions receive positions that should be going to more qualified persons – viz. Bishops of Gloucester, London, and now Dover.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      August 9, 2019 9:38 pm

      Her wife? I don’t buy those who say it’s Jedward.

  21. August 9, 2019 9:45 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate- Science.

  22. Bill Berry permalink
    August 9, 2019 10:38 pm

    Here we are again – it’s as if Stuart Lane never existed

  23. Alan Kendall permalink
    August 10, 2019 8:08 am

    Science when done well is supposed to be self correcting, and ultimately it is (or will be). Unfortunately the self corrections are not being done where they should be (most academia and meteorological offices) and make very little impact on the wider world. Instead the required remediation is accomplished at sites such as this. What is unconscionable is that the concrete evidence produced is ignored by those who should be most affected by it. Ignored by people who ought to have been trained to examine ALL the evidence.

    Why is this? I can understand why climate “scientists”, those with vested interests, might be blinkered, but what of other science? Why isn’t there an outcry at the waste of money and effort? How long do we have to wait before this new Lysenkoism withers? It is remarkably resilient.

  24. europeanonion permalink
    August 10, 2019 8:09 am

    But for bad weather we would never have had Dracula or Frankenstein. Their writers were hold-up in the Villa Diodati due to bad weather and took a moment off from more prurient diversions to write and up-popped the dark dramatic creatures of the imagination. It was wet and very cold in Switzerland in this summer. Little did our celebrated friends know at the time that the volcano, Mount Tambora had erupted and blanketed the upper atmosphere in debris causing a global cooling. You have to be careful what you wish for, you can breed all sorts of monsters. “…the earth’s temperature dropped by three degrees Celsius and many areas of the world suffered an unseasonable chill that lingered for months. Widespread crop failure and food shortages plagued North America, while parts of Europe suffered hibernal storms and frosts”. But that was 1816, it could’t possibly happen now.

  25. MrGrimNasty permalink
    August 10, 2019 11:03 am

    July was supposedly a massive heatwave (actually 2 very warm days and one hot) and the MSM goes apocalyptic, but Augusts is actually running far hotter in the CET – but not a word. It’s all about manipulating the public’s perception of extreme weather, not about the truth or scientific facts.

  26. AllanM permalink
    August 10, 2019 12:27 pm

    “You cannot expect a man to understand something when his salary depends on him not understanding it.” (Upton Sinclair, sometime in the 1930’s.) What’s new?

  27. Victor Hanby permalink
    August 10, 2019 1:43 pm

    It is vital for an academic to score funds from one of the UK Research Councils. In the past, the scientific content of a proposal was paramount – now it is essential to submit page after page of BS on the impact of the research, “an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia”. This is also a significant part of the assessment of university research within the Research Excellence Framework.

    This has encouraged some academics (especially it seems in ‘climate research’) to court the MSM to burnish their credentials in terms of ‘impact’, which is more effective the more apocalyptic spin that can be put on it.

    It’s a politically-driven situation. One morning, a minister woke up and asked ‘why are we spending so much money on university research, what good does it really do?’. So if you were interested in studying the emission of electrons from hot wires in a vacuum, nowadays you would have to foresee the emergence of valves, radar and all the rest. It’s not all academics’ fault.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      August 10, 2019 7:04 pm

      At least BBC TV would never have happened!

  28. Ken Pollock permalink
    August 10, 2019 7:42 pm

    Re the Whaley Bridge spillway failure, it is interesting to note that, apparently, the concrete cover of the spillway, itself applied in the ’80s, I think, is “unreinforced”. I see no iron rods in the broken edges of the concrete skin. Given that there appeared to be plants growing out of the cracks between these separate slabs, it is perhaps less surprising that a major flood over the spillway brought about the failure.
    None of that indicates any weakening of the dam itself, or of any likelihood of it failing. The dam is, and always was, secure. A concrete skin on the spillway failed.
    But don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story…
    Maybe when they rebuild the spillway, they will use reinforcing rods and a continuous pour, to give added strength. It’s not rocket science, just decent civil engineering!

  29. Karl Smith permalink
    August 11, 2019 1:38 am

    Your so called models can’t predict anything of useable value, they are used to brain wash and manipulate young children and the general populist religion of global warming or whatever new word (S) you charlatans can dream up. Never has a science (used very loosely here to describe the appalling manipulation of data and doctored research summaries by bureaucrats) been bastardised so much by poliournalist, left wing teachers, lecturers and politicians for nothing more than political gain. The amount of money sunk into this religion is criminal at the expense of so much other real and valuable research that could be happening. Dreaming up new numbers of by such and such the temp, rainfall, wind etc, etc will be x amount hotter wetter, utterly shameful, has no defendable position. These outrageous statements (Predictions) totally undermines any possibility of debate, you have lowered metrology to nothing more than a group of crystal ball holding charlatans spreading fear, the weather is hard to predict accurately for more than 5 days but yet you can model a hundred years from now what absolute BS, these dates are always changing its a joke.

  30. Gamecock permalink
    August 12, 2019 10:24 pm


    We have a name for them: ‘flash floods.’

    Uhhh . . . that means they aren’t unprecedented; they have happened before. Enough that we even created a name for them.

    “Yeah, but today’s flash floods are different! Cos climate change!”

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