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Stonehaven Derailment–Latest Rainfall Data

August 18, 2020

By Paul Homewood




More information is emerging of the amount of rain which fell in the Stonehaven area on the day of the accident, which surprisingly Network Rail and the Met Office have been strangely quiet about.


One report from CNN states:


Inverbervie station, the closest reporting weather station averages 57.6mm in August. They have recorded 55mm in 24 hours, so almost exactly a month’s worth of rainfall in 24 hours, with the bulk of it coming between 3 a.m. and 8 a.m. local time this morning.


This tallies closely to the data from a private weather station in Stonehaven, which recorded 56mm during the period, most of which fell between 6am and 8 am.

As I reported at the time, daily rainfalls of that amount are not unusual in the area:


time series


Whether  previous episodes have taken place over such a short space of time is difficult to know, because hourly data is often not available for those.


The daily record of 83.9mm at Dyce, Aberdeen was set in July 1970, but was the result of long downpours, rather than thunderstorms. The Met Office monthly report tells us that it was an extreme month in many ways:





Interestingly though, July 1971 did experience extremely high rainfall totals, associated with thunderstorms up and down the country, including 72mm at Callendar, Perthshire, which is not far from Stonehaven:





When we look UK wide record rainfalls of course, Stonehaven’s downpour pales into insignificance:


  1. August 18, 2020 11:34 am

    I wrote a post on the Rail UK forum quoting the rainfall statistics for Leuchars for the last 70 years, from the met office, and pointing out that, despite what the Guardian and Telegraph would want us to believe, there was nothing untoward about the weather and that the likely cause of the landslip that derailed the train was the change in the land use and felling of trees which caused more water to fall towards the railway. The moderator politely told me that this post was not relevant, and it was deleted entirely four hours later.

    So much for the Rail UK forum’s objectivity.

    • richardw permalink
      August 18, 2020 3:35 pm

      Tree felling was the culprit of a collapsed embankment in Warwickshire that I know of. It was all about the soil losing structural integrity following the removal/degeneration of the tree roots.

  2. Alan permalink
    August 18, 2020 11:35 am

    We had 70+ mm in about 20 minutes a few days ago here in Malaysia, pretty heavy rain but no casualties or accidents. Good draunage systems are the answer.

  3. Brian Jackson permalink
    August 18, 2020 12:11 pm

    The root problem is the rail infrastructure is 150 yrs old and is now largely run on a “make do and mend” and “fix it when it breaks” basis. Much remedial work needs to be done around the network but the cash is not there nor – it seems – is the will. Our railways are still in the political arena despite privatisation and we all know how good governments are at running things eg covid balls up and now the exams fiasco just the latest.

  4. jack broughton permalink
    August 18, 2020 1:10 pm

    Maybe the cock-ups will make people realise that Al Gorythms are just ways of treating data and can be right or wrong depending upon the expertise and scientific objectivity of the programmer, even if he is a “Scientist or Expert”.

    I do not believe that the man in the street would believe the wastage that has occurred and damage being done due to climate change Al Gorythms.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      August 19, 2020 2:21 pm

      And certainly nobody in the legacy media is going to tell the man in the street the truth.

  5. Mark Hodgson permalink
    August 18, 2020 2:21 pm

    Paul, good work, but please note that Callendar is quite a long way from Stonehaven – personally I would not describe it as “not far from Stonehaven”. The Cairngorms also lie between the two places.

    It’s a bit like saying that Grantham isn’t far from Chester, many miles apart, with the Pennines between them.

  6. John189 permalink
    August 18, 2020 3:52 pm

    I can go along with the idea that Callander and Stomehaven are not exactly close to each other, but the Cairngorms inbetween? Bit like saying that Grantham isn’t far from Chester but the Cheviot Hills are between them.

  7. August 19, 2020 9:46 am

    The ‘hope for the best’ approach won’t do when modern tech can give early warnings of trouble in areas known to be prone to landslips.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      August 19, 2020 2:36 pm

      Yes, they used that on my line where they were obviously concerned that previous repairs were not enough. Detectors were drilled into the embankment. The work is completed with a line of sheet pile further back and drainage culverts on both sides.

      They also used detectors on another section of concern and the line was closed during the morning peak when too much movement was detected. They had reduced speed to 20mph already which did explain why the train was late even though we were only the second stop up from the terminus.

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