Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Yet more rain

I had mentioned how incredibly lucky we had been last Saturday afternoon regarding the weather - once again Gunnislake Festival was leading a charmed life avoiding the summer rains. To emphasise the point it has been grey, wet and miserable all day here in the Tamar Valley. Now the question I want to pose is this: have our summers taken a turn for the worse? Two points here, firstly our memories seem to be quite short these days - this year's very changeable summer (so far) coupled with the tremendous downpours and flooding in June and July 2007 are so dominant in our memory that the slightly less recent long hot dry summers seem to have receded into the very distant past. In fact it wasn't so long ago that there were concerns about the very low water table particularly in the south east and dire warnings of river beds drying up if I recall correctly. That suggestion must seem laughable now.

The other point I wanted to make is just how selective one's memory can be when trying to compare today's weather with that of our childhood (in my case that's much of the forties and right through the fifties). It might seem now as if the sun never stopped shining through the school holidays, and it's that sort of weather in my formative years that stays in the memory banks, but I'm sure the reality was that it did rain plentifully back then as well.

What I find particularly interesting as a person fascinated by all natural phenomena is my perception that our summer rains are more intense when they come. I could be wrong about this of course but it just seems that the rain is more tropical when it comes. It would be very interesting to know whether typically we are on the receiving end of heavier falls over very short time spans such as one hour or two hours for example. Monthly rainfall totals have their place but I really want to see a breakdown into much smaller chunks of time.

If the planet is warming up then it seems entirely reasonable to me that there is more energy in the atmosphere leading to deluges of a more intense kind. But as I had hinted before it isn't easy to make accurate judgments, perception does not always equal reality!

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