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Sidmouth’s changing climate: part three

  • by JW

There are several websites giving a picture of Sidmouth’s historic weather:

Past Weather in Sidmouth, England, United Kingdom — Yesterday or Further Back

Weather Archive Sidmouth – meteoblue

As well as the current averages:

Sidmouth climate: Average Temperature, weather by month, Sidmouth water temperature –

With the town council’s pages giving lots of useful information:

Sidmouth weather

Today, Sidmouth has seven rain gauges which supplied historic data for the Rainfall Rescue project:

Rainfall Rescue stations | Flourish

If we look at the climate, rather than the weather, extreme flooding events seem to have been bad 150 years ago too:

Victorian rainfall data reveals the driest year on record was 1855 – with widespread flooding in the winter of 1852
Volunteers have been transcribing Victorian weather records during lockdown
The Victorian records were made at rainfall gauges all over the UK and Ireland… Some of the ‘rescued’ data has smashed more recent weather records in the UK

Victorian rainfall data shows extreme weather events are nothing new | Daily Mail Online

Met Office Blog

And here’s a wonderful piece from Dr Alan Gadian writing in the Herald last October:

Historically, the West Country has suffered from intense storms. In January 1607, a storm swept the North Coast of Devon and Somerset (2,000 deaths and widespread flooding 14 miles inland, with a surge of 7.7 metres).  This category two hurricane was combined with an exceptionally high tide of seven metres.  In December 1703 a similar strength storm destroyed much of the British fleet at Chatham, incurring 1,500 to 10,000 deaths. Afterwards, the Dutch took advantage and destroyed many remaining vessels; a fact not mentioned in many British history books. 

Storms and stormy weather, past, present, and future | Sidmouth Herald

However, as Dr Gadian says, “More severe extreme events will happen more frequently.” 

In which case, “we need to be prepared” for any such extreme weather events:

‘Extreme weather’ and climate change – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Moreover, if we look at trends in climate when it comes to temperature in the Sid Valley, then things do seem to be rather different to Victorian times:

“Looking at weather data from 1865-71 and 2017-20, very clear evidence of our climate now being milder in winter and warmer in summer.”
“Only 18% of the Victorian winter months were frost free but 33% of recent winter months have been frost free.”

Sidmouth’s changing climate – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Although as a commentator pointed out, we still need to take care:

“I think we need to be very careful about comparisons. When the readings from 1861 were taken we were still in the ‘little ice age.”

Nevertheless, whatever the ups and downs, things are clearly on the up:

“The issue, however, is whether the current ‘warming’ has been exacerbated by human activity: in other words, whether this is ‘anthropogenic global warming’ happening.”

Sidmouth’s changing climate – part two – Vision Group for Sidmouth

As noted by Prof Brian Golding:

Ten years ago there was much speculation about a hiatus in the rate of rise of global temperature. As the graph below shows (see also this was largely an illusion caused by the very high temperature in 1998, which resulted from a combination of the increasing trend with a naturally very hot year due to a strong El Nino. The next such combination occurred in 2016, when it became clear that there was no hiatus. The graph shows a steady climb in average global temperature since the 1970s. Prior to that was a period when volcanic eruptions held the temperature down for several decades..

A history of climate change: Prof Brian Golding – Vision Group for Sidmouth