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Ciara Floods Blamed On Climate Change–Facts Say Otherwise

February 11, 2020

By Paul Homewood


Hebden Bridge and other towns in the Calder Valley have been hit by flooding again, and inevitably the finger has been pointed at “climate change”

On Look North last night I watched BBC weatherman Paul Hudson reeling off the usual claim that warmer air can hold more moisture, blah blah.

According to the EA, rainfall on Sunday was up to 100mm in the catchment area. However, this is pretty meaningless, as we are talking about upland moors over 1000 ft in altitude. Moreover, the EA now has many measuring devices in areas never before recorded, purely for flood forecasting rather than climate. It is therefore impossible to make any long term comparisons. In any event, 100mm of rain in a day in locations such as this are perfectly normal occurrences.

So, is there any evidence that daily rainfall is becoming more extreme in the area, or is 100mm actually a common event?

We have two long running weather stations in the region with daily rainfall data, courtesy of KNMI. (Data is up to 2017). Neither show any evidence of daily rainfall becoming more extreme:

time series

time series


Neither station is ideal for representing the Calder Valley catchment area. Bradford, though nearby, is to the east of the Pennines, which feed the Calder. Newton Rigg is on the west of the Pennines, but a bit further north in Cumbria.

Nevertheless if the extreme rainfall theory is correct, we would expect to see its effect at both locations. After all, I am sure that global warming does not just affect the Calder Valley!


Hebden Bridge is a notoriously vulnerable area for flooding, as it is located in a steep sided valley where three rivers meet – River Calder, Hebden Water and Colden Clough.

The Flood Chronologies website gives details on some of the historical floods there. I have listed some of the more notable ones below:







Just look at that last one again – 193mm of rain in two hours! You clearly do not have to invoke a “warmer atmosphere” to explain heavy rainfall.


Questions have also been raised about the poor state of drainage up stream:

Barry Greenwood, 73, from Hebden Bridge, saw his daughter’s hair salon flooded again when the Calder burst.

He said: “I’ve been hitting my head against a stone wall. The problem is that the drainage systems on the moorland have all collapsed.

“You’ve got the uplands areas filling up with water, they’re not draining during the dry periods because the drains are completely knackered, the catchment that they run into has fallen into disrepair and we are getting all this water. (The Environment Agency) has taken houses off people and demolished them, they are widening the river system where it isn’t necessary, they haven’t reinstated the overspill aqueducts. The list is horrendous.”


But blaming floods on climate change saves the Environment Agency the bother of actually doing anything about it.

  1. Phil Wood permalink
    February 11, 2020 2:46 pm

    Paul : have you seen the letter from a Canadian professor of Sociology ? Tears Greta to shreds. Link https;//

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      February 11, 2020 3:06 pm

      Page can’t be found.

    • Joe Public permalink
      February 11, 2020 3:24 pm

      PW – Jason D. Hill is absolutely spot on. Thanks for highlighting the letter.

      For starters:

      “You have dropped out of school and declared that there isn’t any reason to attend or any reason for you to study since there will be no future for you to inherit…..”

      “… you claimed that “we have stolen your dreams and our childhood with our empty words.”

      “…. First, we did not rob you of your childhood or of your dreams.

      You are the legatee of a magnificent technological civilization, which my generation and the one before it and several others preceding it all the way to the Industrial Revolution and the Renaissance, bequeathed to you.”

      • Joe Public permalink
        February 11, 2020 3:39 pm

        Perhaps the best quote from Jason D. Hill:

        “We will still be here long after you’ve grown up and we have forgiven you for skipping classes, thereby lowering the intelligence quotient of an entire generation.”

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        February 11, 2020 4:01 pm

        PArt of the problem is that she may not be here much more than 12 years given her medical condition. Having seen the outpouring for an actor who became an XR propagandist, I hate to think what the Diana complex will do if she does have a foreshortened life.

        I did note that the Mail had to moderate the comments. Not everyone loves an XR extremist, I suspect.

      • Michael Adams permalink
        February 11, 2020 4:36 pm

        You’ve seen her in the papers, you’ve heard her at the UN, you’ve seen her talking to DA and given top billing at Davos and now, what we’ve all been waiting for, coming on a TV near you, here is Greta headlining her own TV series. Drum role please.

  2. LeedsChris permalink
    February 11, 2020 2:49 pm

    Absolutely correct analysis. The problem for many upland catchments also is that until relatively recent times – and in particular until automated electronic recording started – rain gauges were only read monthly, because someone actually has to ‘yomp’ across the moors to read them, so often we don’t have much information about intensity of rain per hour during heavy falls, nor even daily totals for historic periods. In contrast, now we have minute by minute information – I am suspicious this is why the Met Office were able to report that record 24 hour fall at Honister Pass a few years ago, whereas not too many decades back we simply couldn’t access hourly or daily data from gauges in that sort of location. The second point concerns flooding in the Pennine valleys. All I can say is that if anyone has spent any time looking at either the old annual reports of British Rainfall, or looked at the historic copies of the local newspapers for West Yorkshire, the names of Todmorden, Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge make a frequent appearance in news items about floods…

  3. Matelot 65 permalink
    February 11, 2020 3:01 pm

    But the environment agency cannot understand why their multi=million flood defences are ineffective! LISTEN TO THE LOCALS!

  4. Harry Passfield permalink
    February 11, 2020 3:03 pm

    “But blaming floods on climate change saves the Environment Agency the bother of actually doing anything about it.”
    I live 20′ above a flood-plain for a garden next to a small river. We have done for nearly 40 years. In the early years the riverbanks and bridges were maintained often enough but that stopped around the early ’90s. Then the ’98 floods nearly got to my house – and nothing was done. Then the 2007 floods got even closer so the EA spent £400k on riverbank clearing and some flood defences. That’s pretty much all they’ve ever done and in the last 13 years we’ve had more inundations than ever. It’s not CC, it’s EA – or lack of it. If the EA did their job the climate nutters like Deben would have no argument. The countryside is being sacrificed for a false cause. The thing is, why? Why does Deben et al want this country to be beggared?

    • bobn permalink
      February 11, 2020 3:18 pm

      ’cause it makes them rich! They’re all on the gravy trains in their stink tanks and waffle shops.

  5. February 11, 2020 3:50 pm

    The Environment Agency has long been known to be useless. See this Mail article from 2014:
    “The higher the flood waters rise, the lower the reputation of the Environment Agency sinks. The very organisation that should be protecting the public is partly responsible for the deepening crisis.
    Like all too many quangos in modern Britain, it is unable to fulfil its essential duties because it is drowning in wasteful bureaucracy and fashionable dogma.
    Trying to explain away its spectacular failure to provide effective flood defences or maintain drainage systems, the agency bleats about underfunding …… But the real explanation is that it has the balance of its priorities all wrong.”

    Read the rest; it gets worse:

  6. MrGrimNasty permalink
    February 11, 2020 4:48 pm

    Climate change? Only if you are ignorant of history (or deliberately blind as per the MSM these days). Another source:-

  7. Harry Passfield permalink
    February 11, 2020 5:10 pm

    It gets worse: Just on R4 PM, Shukman ( I think it was) was reporting on a paper that says the authors have discovered that part of the Amazon Rain-forest is no longer absorbing CO2 but is emitting it! He went on about how this will/could spell doom for the planet in terms of CC.
    Then he dropped the BBC bias clanger: He reported that the paper has yet to be published – which I take to mean that it has not yet been peer-reviewed. BBC!!!

  8. Philip Walling permalink
    February 11, 2020 6:05 pm

    It’s hard to know where to start with this. The Environment Agency is staffed by ideologues and silly vacuous ecology graduates indoctrinated into the religion of ‘climate change’. I doubt there will be anybody there with an ounce of common sense.
    I don’t know the Calder Valley, but I know the Lorton valley in Cumbria very well, having farmed there and owned land beside the River Cocker that flooded Cockermouth so spectacularly a few of years ago.
    The simple reason for the flooding was that there had been no dredging of the Rivers Cocker or Derwent for at least a couple of decades. Keswick was also flooded because they wouldn’t dredge the River Greta.
    They are still ideologically opposed to dredging and come up with all manner of drivel about ‘slowing down the water run off’ from upland catchments, planting trees to do the same, getting the river to ‘reconnect with its flood plain’ and so on.
    They will not accept that the water has to be got back into the sea from whence it came as quickly as possible and the watercourses have to be deep and wide enough to take it. That is the top and bottom of it.
    I used to think they wouldn’t dredge to save money. Now I am convinced it is boneheaded intransigence.

    • Nordisch geo-climber permalink
      February 12, 2020 9:41 am

      Philip is correct, the Cocker in the 50s and 60s was a haven for teeming wildlife. There were huge deep pools, plenty of depth in the channel for carrying water. Look now and the river is full of gravel, very shallow and any flood will spill directly and rapidly overbank. The only impact of planting trees upriver in the catchment is to enhance the destruction of the flood waters when they come (as they regularly do) – the trees and soil get ripped out anyway, trees dam the bridges which then collapse and water heads sideways out of the river. Trees actually make the process worse, this can also be seen at Thirlmere where after flood restoration in 2016, the road flooded again in August due to blocking of culverts with trees – in summer! Properly efficient river channels need large spatial capacity for water and no incoming debris like trees. The EA is useless, an expensive waste of money. Bring back lengthsmen.

      • February 12, 2020 10:07 am

        Mr geo-climber is right.
        The elaborate field drainage system in the bottom of the Vale of Lorton, dug at great cost by hand in C.19th which actually goes under the River Cocker in order to get enough fall for the water to flow into the river further down, is being ruined because the Env Agency will not dredge the river and the land is reverting to Lake Lorton. Valuable and fertile farmland is being abandoned to marsh and bog. And the farmers have no choice but to accept that and the annual flooding, without compensation.
        The EA is a disgrace. They ride around in new 4x4s but there won’t be one in a hundred who knows how to use a spade!
        Bring back the local River Boards and dredgers. What an irony that we have highly efficient modern diggers and the rivers are filling up with gravel.

  9. Athelstan. permalink
    February 11, 2020 6:13 pm

    This is once again a very sad time for many people, I do not and would never seek to ignore nor indeed decry their great trauma.

    The flooded shots of Mytholmroyd show in the centre, what I would guess to be a Victorian era build church.
    I cannot imagine Victorian engineers building some important local landmark without being confident that the flock would not have to wade knee deep to attend Sunday service.

    Which begs, what were they doing then, that the EA doesn’t today?

    And by comparing and contrasting then and now ie using aerial stereophotogrammetry even remote sensing. Thus, shouldn’t some very diligent gov bods, an engineer or three – not he local ‘woke’ Geography department. Should they not be investigating and comparing land use changes; upland bog marsh disappeared? Storm run off related to buildings/land use and drainage, then and now? To listen up and learn, stop blaming the ‘catch all excuse’ ex the Gods of climastrology and think more on mankind, what we did, have done and or haven’t done?

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      February 11, 2020 7:23 pm

      If you look at my link above you’ll see it is nothing new. You cannot possibly stop all flooding in a major surface water drainage convergence area – it will happen periodically. The dumbest thing you can do is spend a fortune on a prevention scheme as a knee-jerk reaction to a particular flood. It’s like trying to hit a randomly moving target.

      Times gone by, people built in ignorance (no flood in recent memory) or just accepted it; stone flag floors, minimal ground floor furnishings, it was not big deal to be flooded every once in a while.

  10. AR Clapham. permalink
    February 11, 2020 6:15 pm

    Let us hope we can get on with remedial drainage work, now we will not be taking instructions from our EU masters. Rivers and Drains here in the Fens have narrowed and are heavily silted, reducing their drainage capacity,much the same as the Somerset Levels!
    We need the Expertise of drainage engineers and dredgers now!

    • February 12, 2020 10:28 am

      Quite right!
      Abandon the woeful European Water Framework Directive that has been disastrous for British river drainage, and re-introduce local Drainage Boards.
      Where the Blair Terror didn’t manage to abolish the old Drainage Boards the waterways have been kept reasonably maintained. But where the EA took over the results have been disastrous, verging on the criminal.
      The bosses at the EA (who are they?) should be sacked forthwith for idiocy and incompetence, stripped of their no doubt massive pensions and issued with spades and waders and told to get digging.
      Their reign is a good example of incompetence emanating from an over-centralised bureaucracy that arrogantly disdains local practical knowledge.

  11. Ulric Lyons permalink
    February 12, 2020 1:14 am

    Bradford looks marginally drier during the warm AMO phases. Good post, thanks.

  12. February 12, 2020 10:54 am

    Saves the Environment Agency from doing anything about the problem, exactly right. Civil agencies are now little but advertising agencies who show their concerns not by actions but rather by contemplation’s. They are embryonic empires with job’s worth’s proving their awareness and, what is more scary, their attachment to modern mores. Their focus is horribly attached to that which we are experiencing, pouring resource into amelioration rather than experimentation and solutions (wind mills). There is more than one way of describing how you are the case. The chosen method is merely to act as a broadsheet and describe what you have observed, this apocalyptic occurrence which you neither foresaw and neither which you mean to eradicate. Sympathise with victims and wring your hands, great!!

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