08 March 2017


We have weather satellites. We have tide gauges. We have wave buoys. We have a lot of instrumentation that tells us where sea level is, and to what extent that is due to global changes, tides, and storms. All very important! Why? Well, floods of course. But who records floods?

Strangely enough, there was no archive of UK floods. We know how high the sea came, but which heights cause floods? And when and why? It's important to find out.

The aforementioned Ivan Haigh decided we needed to know, so he started to look for data on floods. He had people trawl through newspapers and such sources, and after a year or two of such trawling they linked up the data on floods to the data from the weather instrumentation. The result is: Surgewatch. Find all information on that site! For all severe events, they list what caused the flood (such as a spring tide combined with a certain storm), how the flood occurred (did the water overtop sea defenses? Did it breach them?), and what the damage was. For the milder events information is more concise.

Did they yet find any interesting patterns in all this data? Well, yes! They noticed that floods tend to occur in four different regions, depending on what track a passing storm takes. The good thing is that one storm will only affect one of these regions, and if you can predict its track, you can predict where the problem will be. If you get storms in close succession you know you will either be busy repairing damaged defenses in time for the next, similar storm to come along, or lugging all your flood-related material to the other side of the country if the next storm takes a different track.

Surgewatch aims as well to document all floods to come, including with pictures, so all those reading this who witness UK floods: take pictures and upload them! Floods are the future, and knowledge is power...

File:Northside Bridge, Workington-1.JPG
A river flood: these are not yet incorporated into Surgewatch. Pic: Andy V Byers at English Wikipedia

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