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Is Extreme Daily Rainfall Getting Worse In England?

November 10, 2019

By Paul Homewood


As expected, the media has been full of claims that This week’s floods in S Yorkshire were due to global warming. I even has my old neighbour saying we “never used to have rain like this” and how it was “tropical”.

There is an easy way, however, to check if daily rainfall is getting more extreme in England. KNMI’s Climate Explorer produces graphs of daily rainfall, and below are all of the long running sites in England, with at least 80 years data. (Data for most stations goes up to 2017):












Inevitably it is a mixed bag, but ironically Sheffield is the only station where the data shows a noticeable upward trend. Other northern sites such as Bradford and Durham don’t offer evidence of any such trend.

Southern stations, such as Oxford and Rothamsted, seem to show extreme daily rainfall on the decrease.

The most extreme events are, of course, still only weather events, so we should not read too much into any of the charts.

But they do seem to give the lie to the claim that global warming is making heavy rainfall worse.

  1. Jason permalink
    November 10, 2019 1:22 pm

    In the mid 1990s we were going through a drought. Every night BBC reporters were filmed standing in the cracked beds of depleted reservoirs and rivers telling the public we’d messed up the weather with our fridges and deodorant sprays and it would never rain properly again. I had a set to with one of them, told her it was just a drought and she’d soon be reporting on flooding. She thought I was mad. So I asked her where she thought all the water had gone?? She went to speak but no words came out.

    Within months we had huge amounts of rainfall; ancient long forgotten rivers started reasserting themselves…in some cases right through housing estates.

    Would be so great if someone could dig out some of those reports, circa 1996.

    • husq permalink
      November 10, 2019 1:54 pm

      Two hundred truck plus operation to keep Halifax in water during the great drought of 1995

    • November 10, 2019 5:12 pm

      How true. A colleague visited two days after such a drought ended in spectacular form, and announced that he had just driven through six inches of drought.

  2. john cooknell permalink
    November 10, 2019 2:13 pm

    The 5 day flood risk looks anything but an emergency. Pity the Media cannot read.

  3. Ben Vorlich permalink
    November 10, 2019 2:47 pm

    It doesn’t take much of a shift in weather patterns for Sheffield to show a minor increase in daily rainfall and Oxford a decrease, natural and to be expected.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      November 11, 2019 1:50 pm

      Stalling fronts seems to be a common cause of flooding. If my memory serves me correctly, the flooding back in 1968 around Surrey and Kent was due to this.

  4. A C Osborn permalink
    November 10, 2019 3:02 pm

    Just to continue with “it is Climate Change” theme, the BBC news is relating the current wild fires in Australia are also due to Climate Change.
    I am not sure that fires set by or caused by humans should be called “wild”.

  5. November 10, 2019 3:04 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate-

  6. A C Osborn permalink
    November 10, 2019 3:05 pm

    Paul, I would have thought that the Daily Records would be a better comparison, your previous post on the Don area showed it is nothing new and a couple of commentors had also found other dates with just as high rainfall figures.

  7. November 10, 2019 3:20 pm

    Climate change confirmation bias is getting worse, judging by media content.

  8. November 10, 2019 5:01 pm

    We had similar claims back in 2013 when Somerset was flooded, mainly because they were no longer dredging rives and drains because of some half baked EU directive. As can be seen from the figures then it wasn’t really unusual.

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      November 11, 2019 2:22 pm

      The same EU directive applied across the EU. The majority of the countries managed to avoid the mistake of not dredging and maintaining the infrastructure. Councils and water companies saving money and using an EU directive to do nothing is a more likely explanation for that.

  9. MrGrimNasty permalink
    November 10, 2019 5:18 pm

    An O/T thought.

    With the projection that Labour’s economic policy will cost £1.2trillion causing uproar, why is there no uproar at the Tory’s cost of ‘decarbonising’ the UK by 2050 – the same figure.

    It’s almost as if both parties intend to impose exactly the same ruinous extreme socialist policies on the unsuspecting UK public.

  10. Pancho Plail permalink
    November 10, 2019 5:44 pm

    What is particularly noticeable from the graph you have shown, Paul, is that the days of peak rainfall do not coincide, showing such occurrences to be, IMO, local effects and therefore not global. This is consistent with the variability of weather across regions and through time; it is not indicative of a change in climate.

  11. john cooknell permalink
    November 10, 2019 6:06 pm

    Snowdonia,The Lake District,The Pennines gets the same annual rainfall as Freetown, Sierra Leone, so in a way your neighbour is right. Its always been like that.

    But its certainly not Tropical!

  12. john cooknell permalink
    November 10, 2019 8:29 pm


    Willis Eschenbach drove the nails into the coffin of this particular “climate emergency” over at WUWT when the Whaley Bridge Dam fiasco was going on. Willis was merciless in his analysis.

    Its a pity Sir James Bevan appears to be a “science denier”, or perhaps his vision is obscured by the size of his ego.

    • johnbillscott permalink
      November 10, 2019 11:48 pm

      or the size and amount of his intake of the water of life – Scotch

  13. November 11, 2019 12:36 am

    There was an event attribution study a few years ago that found agw caused flooding in england by way of extreme rainfall.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      November 11, 2019 10:42 am

      Since you would have first to prove AGW is happening, it can’t be much of a study. If I assume aliens landed on those days, my study would show aliens caused the rainfall.

      Does the rainfall correlate with anything else, say temperature?

    • john cooknell permalink
      November 11, 2019 10:49 am

      This is all about PEA, (probabilistic event attribution methodology) is abased on climate models), not reality. No trend is found in the actual records. The link you give us actually says that.

      The leading expert on UK flooding is Terry Marsh. in (Marsh 2007) he analysed the river levels gauge records across hundreds of sites across the UK and found no Trend, and also stated quite clearly that the flood events signposted to AGW by others, did not fit with their own currently favoured Climate Change scenarios.

  14. Athelstan. permalink
    November 11, 2019 9:17 am

    it’s a quite appalling event for those people living alongside the Derwent and Don, in the rest of the country, life goes on and events unnoticed, a single event is not indicative of a trend anything unusual – either.
    What needs to be carefully assessed, upper catchment management and during prolonged precipitation events, not least stream flow run off.

    • john cooknell permalink
      November 11, 2019 9:49 am

      And don’t build a major shopping centre and attendant enormous car parking in a known Flood Zone.

      • LeedsChris permalink
        November 11, 2019 10:15 am

        John, I guess that’s so, but remember that the site of the Meadowhall Shopping Centre was a steel works before – the whole of the Don Valley from Sheffield to Rotherham has been built up since Victorian times.

  15. It doesn't add up... permalink
    November 11, 2019 11:16 am

    Around me river levels rise to “record” level!S a couple of weeks ago. It turns out that the records only go back to 1970, thus missing the floods of 1968 that swept away a local bridge which has not been replaced. Looking at a local planning application, I found they had had to commission a hydrology report including flood risk. It showed the extent of flooding in 1949, which was far more severe than 1968.

    I also recall a cloudburst summer thunderstorm in East Kent – probably D-Day weather in 1966 or 1967, with 3.5inches measured by our school rain guage. Mandarin is probably the closest official weather station.

  16. john cooknell permalink
    November 11, 2019 11:27 am

    I do remember Meadowhall shopping centre as a Steelworks.When the steelworks got flooded nobody really bothered, not much damage, nobody really at risk. The site is a known high risk of flooding.

    The planning system has to allow increasing development of flood plains, it is happening everywhere, there is nowhere else to build. Planning Authorities are required to actively review flood risk zones and produce mitigating flood risk assessments to release land from the flood plain for development.

    So more people get flooded out as there are more at risk, and to compound the risk the EA have stopped engineering watercourses and dredging rivers.

    Then it all gets blamed on Climate Change. The idiots formulate a Model that proves AGW is the cause, you could not make it up!

    However the UK River Level Gauge network records show no trend in the increase of flows down our rivers. (Marsh 2007)

  17. Steve permalink
    November 11, 2019 1:23 pm

    Why is it that the weather in Buxton wasn’t crap before 1920? Maybe that’s why they made it into a spa while it was sunny.

  18. J Batt permalink
    November 11, 2019 1:46 pm

    I taught in this area from 1970 to 1993. Flooding often extended all the way out to Tollbar on the A19 (raod to Selby and York) and across the Ings past Arksey and Thorpe Marsh power station (often had to be sandbagged to protect it) to the Don again as it meandered past Barnby Dun. We would canoe from the road outside the power station across to Arksey. The flooding is not unprecedented, only the lack of memory in many of those claimimg it is of biblical proportions.
    On another matter, have you seen this silly idea:
    Perhaps someone should explain to this gentleman where all the heat goes that the ‘air conditioning’ takes out of the air, and how the whole process simply wastes energy and generates yet more heat !!

  19. Jackington permalink
    November 11, 2019 3:06 pm

    It was interesting this morning on BBC Breakfast to see their reporter interviewing 5 neighbouring farmers “in Doncaster” – they all had the same solution to flooding – dredge the river Don, wev’e being telling ’em this for years. I’m sure being farmers they know what is really going on!!

  20. john cooknell permalink
    November 11, 2019 9:00 pm

    This is why Fishlake floods.

    The sub-catchment is located around the village of Fishlake approximately 2km North of Stainforth,Doncaster and extends from Fenwick Grange in the West to Sour Lane PS near Jubilee Bridge in the East.
    The Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation Canal forms the majority of the southernboundary and the River Don lies just to the north of the canal.
    The topography is fairly flat, typically several metres below mean high water spring level, and landuse is predominantly agricultural. Parts of the area are subject to mining subsidence due to mining from Hatfield Colliery.
    The New Junction Canal crosses in the west of the area. The canal is elevated above the
    surrounding land and has provision for drains and overland flood flows to pass beneath it. Minorroads cross run through the area and cross DDC managed watercourses Green Dike, TainingDrain, Westfield Road Drain and Sour Lane Drain.
    From 1934 to 1951 the River Don channel was enlarged and the riverside embankments raised toreduce the risk of flooding. River diversions straightening the course of the river were also cut atThorne Waterside, Fishlake, Stainforth, Wilsic, Barnby Dun and Waite House.
    Fishlake Barrier Bank is part of the preceding system to control the spread of river flooding and had a limited benefit after these works. Although much of the bank still remains, sections were partially ploughed out, or removed, decades ago and more recently a length has been affected by mining subsidence.
    There are 17 DDC managed watercourses, which are categorised as minor, secondary and
    priority, in accordance with the DDC maintenance prioritisation regime, the majority are
    categorised as secondary. The lower reaches of Sour Lane Drain and Taining Drain are classed as priority watercourses.
    The drains are served by 3 DDC managed pumping stations, Sour Lane PS, Church Walk PS and Taining Drain PS which discharge to the River Don when triggered by set drain levels.

    Click to access 2013s7706-Danvm-DC-WLMS-Report-v5.pdf

    • November 11, 2019 10:05 pm

      I know the area well John.

      I was cycling round there two weeks ago – Sykeshouse, Fenwick, Barnby Dun, Bramwith.

      In fact the road from Thorpe to Barnby was “closed” due to floods, as the fields, which were lower than the canal, had flooded the road. In fact cars were going through, and I walked along the path at the edge of the canal.

  21. thefordprefect permalink
    November 11, 2019 10:44 pm

    All they need to do is adapt to the new conditions. they’ve had 100 years!

  22. November 12, 2019 1:58 pm

    And no mention of the Weather modifier planes seeding the clouds MAKING IT RAIN ? It has rained here in Woodnesborough Sandwich Kent every single day since the end of August and if you dont believe me come and see for yourself. Unmarked planes fly over my bungalow EVERY MINUTE OF THE DAY blocking the sun/making it rain which leaves a residue on everything including plants. No AGW just psycopaths with an agenda.

  23. john cooknell permalink
    November 12, 2019 9:37 pm


    The rainfall getting more extreme scenario so favoured by the media has as its source the Met Office.

    All looks quite innocent till you see they compare 1961-90 to 2008-17. Why???

    Then if you read the science studies referenced ( boring) you find the attribution studiesthat are referenced are based on Global and Regional Climate Models and a bit of station data is allowed in.

    Otto et al 2018 is a revisit to an earlier study of Storm Desmond, I found the following paradoxical paragraph in the abstract.

    “Here we revisit the assessment using more station data, an additional monthly event definition, a second global climate model and regional model simulations of winter 2015/16. The overall result of the analysis is similar to the real-time analysis with a best estimate of a 59% increase in event frequency, but a larger confidence interval that does include no change. It is important to highlight that the observational data in the additional monthly analysis does not only represent the rainfall associated with storm Desmond but also that of storms Eve and Frank occurring towards the end of the month.”

    So the first analysis only included storm Desmond and the re-visit included other storms, more observational data, and then they find that there is just as likely no change!

  24. November 14, 2019 12:40 am

    First I would say my heart goes out to the people affected by this flood event.

    second I would ask “does the name “Fishpond” have any relevance?

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