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Wild Weather In 1960!

December 14, 2020

By Paul Homewood



The BBC thinks this year has been notable for “wild weather” in Britain. Perhaps somebody should tell them about 1960!


After a wet winter, the wettest in England & Wales since 1915/16, the end of spring and beginning of summer was hot. May was the warmest in Scotland since 1936, and across the UK, it was the hottest June since 1940.



However, the weather quickly went downhill. July, August and September were all unusually wet. So it was no surprise when record rainfall in October brought extensive floods to southern England:





The floods in Devon were particularly notorious:



October 27, 1960 remains one of the most disastrous days in Exeter’s history.

The St Thomas floods are often talked about to this day, which saw thousands of properties affected on two separate occasions.

So much rain fell in Exeter during October, 1960, that the River Exe broke its banks and the city suffered the worst flooding in its history.

More than 380mm of rain, half the annual average, fell in the River Exe catchment area that month, and 60mm fell on October 26 alone.

The next day water cascaded over the banks of the swollen Exe above Exwick and poured through St Thomas and towards Alphington.

Mud, silt, boulders and trees swept through the streets and thousands of residents were trapped as their homes were flooded by two metres of water. Around 1,000 properties were damaged.

October 27 became known as Black Thursday, and just as Exeter was recovering from the damage and shock, floods struck again on December 3 when another 80mm of rain fell in one day.

This time, more than 1,200 properties were affected by the floods.

It was the biggest flooding in the Westcountry during the 20th century and the third wettest since records began in 1727.

In total, 2,500 houses, factories, churches and pubs were inundated.




Heavy rainfall continued into November, bringing extensive flooding to much of the country, and even a powerful tornado which caused considerable damage in Cheshire. Gales reached 80mph in a number of places.

Notably it was the wettest July to November period on record in England & Wales, a record which still holds.






In November it was the south east’s turn to bear the brunt of the floods, described as the worst there for 50 years:




As noted in the Devon Live report, severe floods returned to Exeter in December, along with many other parts of S Wales and southern England:





The Met Office report in October mentions Horncastle in Lincolnshire. This still holds the record for the highest 180 minute rainfall total:



1960 ended up as the wettest year in England & Wales in the whole of the 20th century. It was a year, many people were delighted to see the back of.



We have now looked at 1940, 1950 and 1960. Each year had its share of “wild weather”, every bit as great as this year, and probably more so. And these are random picks.

It is abundantly clear that there is no factual basis to the BBC/Met Office’s absurd claim that 2020 proves wild weather is increasing.

I will, by the way, be filing an official complaint against the BBC over this piece of dishonest reporting.

  1. Thomas Carr permalink
    December 14, 2020 7:14 pm

    Who deals with the public at the Met Office? It’s not enough to confront an intransigent BBC . Copies to the Daily Mail, The Guardian, the D.Telegraph and Tax Payer’s Alliance as usual. I’ll do it.

  2. Ian Magness permalink
    December 14, 2020 7:15 pm

    Your examples of real wild British weather, combined with an article elsewhere today about present soft cliff coastal erosion in Yorkshire (which is gradually sweeping away various poorly-sited settlements that should never have been built there in the first place) reminded me of how my parents used to talk of the great North Sea floods on 1953. Wikipedia has the following:
    Nobody talked of the unusual set of circumstances (high spring tide on top of a strong storm) being caused by climate change. Can you imagine, however, if similar happened now? We’d never see the last of the pictures of the flood devastation. The BBC would be incoherent with excitement.

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      December 14, 2020 7:55 pm

      My in-laws used to have a holiday cottage at Barmston, about six miles south of Bridlington which was pretty close to the beach in 1967 and abandoned in, I think, 1971 or 1972. It was generally understood then that erosion along the Holderness coastline was likely to continue until the coast receded as far as Beverley and that attempts to prevent it were a waste of time.

      Spurn Point at the mouth of the Humber is the visible result of this erosion which has probably been going on for centuries.

      • Broadlands permalink
        December 14, 2020 8:10 pm

        Mike…if that natural process keeps up “There’ll Always Be an England” won’t apply. The British Isle will become little more than a hazard to marine navigation. 🙂

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      December 14, 2020 9:02 pm

      My family were living on the America’s Cup yacht Endeavour in Moodies Boatyard, Swanwick at the time of the storm. I can’t remember it, I under 3 years old at the time. but my elder brother remembers another houseboat sinking. It’s one of the weather events my mother remembered until she died; others were the winters of 1940,47 and 63, Summer of 1976 and Scotland’s January hurricane. Like most people, predominately bad weather events.

  3. jack broughton permalink
    December 14, 2020 7:33 pm

    Good luck with the complaint. It is a pity that there are no reporters or politicians prepared (or possibly able) to lift their heads above the parapet and tackle the blatant lies being peddled.

    • Broadlands permalink
      December 14, 2020 9:21 pm

      Jack.. I have also tried to get some journalists who cover the environment to write about some of these things, but their jobs are on the line if they depart very far from the consensus or conventional wisdom… also shared by editors. This seems to be true even for a few who understand the situation. Good luck indeed.

    • Mack permalink
      December 14, 2020 9:46 pm

      Jack, Sammy Wilson MP from the DUP recently got the luvies hyperventilating on R4’s Any Questions by comparing the government’s green policies to ‘Stalinist 5 year plans’. He is consistently sound on Brexit matters, the economy and questions of liberty and freedom of choice. Great to hear at least one beacon of common sense still remains in the House of Shame.

  4. Devoncamel permalink
    December 14, 2020 10:26 pm

    Paul you could have, of course, cherry picked the Lynmouth disaster in 1952 which claimed 34 lives. Nothing to do with climate, simply catastrophic rainfall in August.

    • December 16, 2020 8:34 am

      Devoncamel: I was on holiday with my uncle and aunt in a village called Exford on Exmoor for 2 weeks in August 1952. The village lies in a valley on the River Exe. It rained almost continuously during our stay at the Crown Hotel. A few days after we left, the hotel was under 14 feet of water!

      • December 16, 2020 9:21 am

        I think it was a few hours after we left the hotel, not days. We were lucky to get out.

      • Devoncamel permalink
        December 16, 2020 10:41 am

        Luc Ozade,
        I know Exford very well, it sits at the confluence of several hills. I was on holiday in Cornwall a few days before Boscastle was flooded. I left early because the weather had been rather wet! When I moved to Devon I expected more rain and have not been disappointed. It’s called weather.

  5. December 15, 2020 6:11 am

    The Met Office, based in Exeter, should be the organisation putting the BBC to the sword. But of course, the Met Office needs to keep the climate change scam going in order to keep its vast funding stream going.

  6. Phoenix44 permalink
    December 15, 2020 8:40 am

    For almost everybody in Britain 2020 was a completely unremarkable year – a few really hot days and that’s about it. To claim it was “wild” is beyond a joke. These are short-lived, often quite local events the BBC obsesses about. As for the sunniest May…how us that in any way “wild”? Fewer clouds than average is wild?

  7. December 15, 2020 9:21 am

    10am Coming up on Woman’s Hour
    “The way we understand and talk about climate change has shifted dramatically in the past couple of years.
    To discuss why, Jane speaks to three women from this year’s Power List
    – physicist and climate researcher Prof Joanna Haigh
    – one of the leads from the Climate Assembly Prof Rebecca Willis;
    – and Guardian Environment Correspondent Fiona Harvey”

    Famous BBC balance

  8. Eddy Barrows permalink
    December 15, 2020 10:23 am

    Those of us who are old enough to remember 1960 can also remember the succession of nonsense, `from the reports of another ice age and assertions that in 20 years the arctic ice would have disappeared and Britain would have a Mediterranean climate to the subtle change from global warming to climate change.This lunacy is being pumped out remorselessly in schools and it is essential that we all fight back by refuting it whenever we can and taking every opportunity to highlight the endless completely one sided BBC propaganda.

  9. December 15, 2020 12:13 pm

    Picked up a snip from today’s Press & Journal (north Scotland) which has a daily list of “important” dates. Wondered if there was a reason at the time for the first one:

    “1654: A meteorological office in Tuscany began daily temperature readings.”

  10. saparonia permalink
    December 16, 2020 10:13 am

    My dad was a steelworker and he had to take his holidays in shut down week. We went to the seaside and were in a caravan. I recall the little gas lamps. It was so bad, it was dark all the time, the rain was pounding on the caravan and my dad cried. Not many people had cars then and we had to stay all week because he’d booked us on a coach

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