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Britain's Biggest Natural Disasters


Dreckly
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Posted
  • Location: North Cornwall 187ft asl
  • Weather Preferences: Atlantic Storms, Thunder & Lightning, Snow.
  • Location: North Cornwall 187ft asl

    I was looking for a list of historic weather and climate events of the British Isles. I came across this list and thought I would create this topic where members could comment and add their own events possibly not listed here. 

     

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    Posted
  • Location: Motherwell
  • Weather Preferences: windy
  • Location: Motherwell

    In terms of wind the only two that really stand out as damaging in the last 25 years or so were the boxing day storm in 1998 and the Jan 3rd storm of 2012 from which all the damage came from the sting jet as the storm itself was fairly tame.

     

    The Jan 3rd event was definitely the most widespread damage i've seen in 20 years. For weeks after it there were people up ladders repairing roofs in the area and all from a 30 - 40 minute spell of strong winds. 

     

    I was only 8 in 98 so it's not quite as memorable but I do recall seeing a garage roof blow off and a caravan blown over. It was a more prolonged stormy spell over 5/6 hrs with peak gusts into the 80s.

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    Posted
  • Location: Powys Mid Wales borders.
  • Location: Powys Mid Wales borders.

    Interesting this storm was unlike anything I ve seen really..

    Storm KyrillHurricane-force winds across British Isles, at least 11 people dead.

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    Posted
  • Location: Cheshire
  • Location: Cheshire

    Interesting, thanks for posting Dreckly. Little doubt in my view  that the Great Storm of 1703 and (more recently) the North Sea surge 1953 were the greatest natural disasters to hit the UK. In my own personal experience, the Great Storm of October 1987 is in a league of its own, along with the floods of September 1968 and heat of 1976 (all S London).  

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    Posted
  • Location: Solihull, West Midlands. - 131 m asl
  • Weather Preferences: Sun, Snow and Storms
  • Location: Solihull, West Midlands. - 131 m asl

     

    Thanks for the interesting  subject.

    I, about 10 years ago, picked up a book written/ edited by our own Michael Fish. Paul Hudson and Ian McCasgill entitled 'Storm Force'. Published 1/10/2007.

    It contains a comprehensive list of natural weather disasters recorded in the British Isles going back about 500AD.

    I have made a list of some of the more interesting of these and I will print it when I have more time (later on).

    It seems to have been put out of print now,,,,   but there are a number of second hand copies available for less than £5.

    It is well worth while getting hold of a copy.

     And AFLT yes I agree about the 1953 east coast flood and the Great Storm of 1703, but there have been many others, and also many blizzards droughts, etc reported over the years.

    MIA  

     

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    Posted
  • Location: London
  • Location: London

    I think part of the problem is how you draw the line. I was mentioning Aberfan (when 116 children and 28 adults died) on the Storm Eunice thread which was clearly the result of man-made slag heaps. But, wait, was it only that? No. It was the deluge which preceded it. Put another way, without the terrible weather it wouldn't have happened.

    This is where the problem comes. You could argue that a lot of 'natural' disasters have a human-induced component, from cars to falling debris, buildings in the wrong place or badly constructed etc. etc. And quite a few train crashes have occurred at times of inclement weather which have contributed.

    So it's a tricky one to define really and I don't take Wiki as gospel on this or anything else.

    For me the worst natural disaster in modern British history is therefore Aberfan but I recognise and accept that not everyone will accept where I draw the boundary line.

     

    Aberfan_disaster%2C_October_1966.jpg
    EN.WIKIPEDIA.ORG

    Another example of this is the Seer Green train crash but there are many others, when 4 people were killed but which occurred because of heavy snow:

     

    Anyway as this isn't a cheery subject I will leave it there for my own well-being.

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    Posted
  • Location: Bishop's Stortford in England and Klingenmünster in Germany
  • Location: Bishop's Stortford in England and Klingenmünster in Germany

    I think that there is something in this.  To call something a disaster is to quantify it in purely human terms. 

    Weather events can be determined ‘extreme’  when they are a certain position away from a norm for a given place - for example a wind speed >3x greater than average.  This (meta and possibly quantum physics aside) will simply occur irrespective of humans observing or feeling any effect.  It becomes a disaster when the human created environment is adversely affected or lives are damaged or lost.

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    Posted
  • Location: North Cornwall 187ft asl
  • Weather Preferences: Atlantic Storms, Thunder & Lightning, Snow.
  • Location: North Cornwall 187ft asl
    On 21/02/2022 at 09:49, Midlands Ice Age said:

     

    Thanks for the interesting  subject.

    I, about 10 years ago, picked up a book written/ edited by our own Michael Fish. Paul Hudson and Ian McCasgill entitled 'Storm Force'. Published 1/10/2007.

    It contains a comprehensive list of natural weather disasters recorded in the British Isles going back about 500AD.

    I have made a list of some of the more interesting of these and I will print it when I have more time (later on).

    It seems to have been put out of print now,,,,   but there are a number of second hand copies available for less than £5.

    It is well worth while getting hold of a copy.

     And AFLT yes I agree about the 1953 east coast flood and the Great Storm of 1703, but there have been many others, and also many blizzards droughts, etc reported over the years.

    MIA  

     

    Thank you for this, I will have to see if I can find copy. 

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    Posted
  • Location: Cheshire
  • Location: Cheshire
    5 hours ago, Mark Smithy said:

    I think part of the problem is how you draw the line. I was mentioning Aberfan (when 116 children and 28 adults died) on the Storm Eunice thread which was clearly the result of man-made slag heaps. But, wait, was it only that? No. It was the deluge which preceded it. Put another way, without the terrible weather it wouldn't have happened.

    This is where the problem comes. You could argue that a lot of 'natural' disasters have a human-induced component, from cars to falling debris, buildings in the wrong place or badly constructed etc. etc. And quite a few train crashes have occurred at times of inclement weather which have contributed.

    So it's a tricky one to define really and I don't take Wiki as gospel on this or anything else.

    For me the worst natural disaster in modern British history is therefore Aberfan but I recognise and accept that not everyone will accept where I draw the boundary line.

     

    Aberfan_disaster%2C_October_1966.jpg
    EN.WIKIPEDIA.ORG

    Another example of this is the Seer Green train crash but there are many others, when 4 people were killed but which occurred because of heavy snow:

     

    Anyway as this isn't a cheery subject I will leave it there for my own well-being.

    An interesting post, thank you. I'm afraid I cannot agree with you about Aberfan. This was man-made through-and-through and to suggest otherwise  would be like taking the NCB stance that it was 'not our fault' and therefore we can't be held liable. 

    I'm not so sure either that Covid and the flu epidemic can be called 'natural', and I don't think we have enough evidence to say categorically that covid was not man-made, for example it resulted from a leak in a laboratory.

    I wonder why the 'Lorna Doone' intensely cold winter of 1683/4 does not appear.  

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    Posted
  • Location: North Cornwall 187ft asl
  • Weather Preferences: Atlantic Storms, Thunder & Lightning, Snow.
  • Location: North Cornwall 187ft asl
    On 21/02/2022 at 15:19, A Face like Thunder said:

    wonder why the 'Lorna Doone' intensely cold winter of 1683/4 does not appear.  

    The list being from Wikipedia is probably incomplete, I came across it when I was looking for past weather related events and it piqued my interest in what other events had occurred . I will look up the 1683/4 event. 

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    Posted
  • Location: North Cornwall 187ft asl
  • Weather Preferences: Atlantic Storms, Thunder & Lightning, Snow.
  • Location: North Cornwall 187ft asl
    On 21/02/2022 at 15:19, A Face like Thunder said:

    wonder why the 'Lorna Doone' intensely cold winter of 1683/4 does not appear.  

    Whilst looking up the above I came across this page about the Thames Frost Fairs

    THAMES.ME.UK

    Boating Guide to the history of the Frost Fairs on the River Thames,London,UK

     

    Edited by Dreckly
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    Posted
  • Location: London
  • Location: London
    17 hours ago, A Face like Thunder said:

    An interesting post, thank you. I'm afraid I cannot agree with you about Aberfan. This was man-made through-and-through

    Just a little bit simplistic I'm afraid, as are your comments on covid. The jury is still out about its origins and the lab theory is just that: a theory.

    Aberfan was largely man-made, as I stated. But to say it was 'through-and-through man made' and deny a natural component entirely is to be over simplistic which is a curse of our age. Not you, but there's a general tendency to binary thinking on most everything these days. Strongly polarised views which lack the subtleties and nuances and complexities of events.

    In the run up to the disaster 170 mm of rain, 6.5 inches, fell in the month of October and half of that fell in the third week: the immediate week before the tragedy. Without this deluge the slag heap would not have slid. There was undeniably a natural element to the disaster.

    I'm the first to criticise capitalism for the way it crushes, literally in this case, innocent victims but like a lot of natural disasters there is sometimes a human component.

    Yes Aberfan was largely a man-made disaster but it had a natural component.

    There are many other (better) examples. A number of train crashes have occurred where the weather has played a significant part and I cited one such at Seer Green.

     

    Peace

    Edited by Mark Smithy
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    Posted
  • Location: London
  • Location: London

    p.s. I was thinking playfully (although a serious topic) about the sinking of the Titanic.

    Man-made, right? No. Not entirely.

    I'm sure we all know the various flaws in both design and construction, the human errors of various types which happened from poor rivets, to ramping up speed, to missing binoculars, to glancing the iceberg but ...

    ... fact is also that there were an unusual number of icebergs around, the night was particularly still causing a lack of ripple, and it was a blooming great iceberg sitting in the path of the liner. The sea temperature was also close to freezing so the poor souls who went in the water did not survive for long. So a natural component contributed to the disaster.

    Edited by Mark Smithy
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    Posted
  • Location: Bempton, Bridlington, East Riding. 78m ASL
  • Location: Bempton, Bridlington, East Riding. 78m ASL

    Looking at events after WW2 on the Wiki list the 1953 East Coast flood appears to be one of the worst weather induced disasters where the weather was the major contributer. Weather has contributed to a number of others, Aberfan, Harrow and Wealdstone rail crash (fog), but based on loss of life 1953 East Coast floods at 300 deaths would make that the worst in the UK since WW2.

    However I think there is another major disaster which is overlooked, the 1952 London smog, depending on the source the number of deaths were in the 1000s to 10000s, its hard to say if someone died as a result of the smog or some pre-existing condition, the only way to get an estimate is to look at excess deaths over that which is statistically expected, and that points to the higher end of the range of deaths attributed. Even if the 4000 deaths quoted by the government soon after is correct that makes it the largest loss of life by a large margin, however it also has a major human induced component, as the fog without the smoke and pollution wouldnt have caused anything like the scale of deaths.

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    Posted
  • Location: Cheshire
  • Location: Cheshire

    Thanks mike57, I had forgotten the London smog of Dec 1952. I don't remember this event but I do recall the smog of early Dec 1962, to which 1000 deaths in London were attributed and which was seen as the last major smog in London before the Clean Air legislation began to kick in. 

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    Posted
  • Location: Bempton, Bridlington, East Riding. 78m ASL
  • Location: Bempton, Bridlington, East Riding. 78m ASL
    2 minutes ago, A Face like Thunder said:

    Thanks mike57, I had forgotten the London smog of Dec 1952. I don't remember this event but I do recall the smog of early Dec 1962, to which 1000 deaths in London were attributed and which was seen as the last major smog in London before the Clean Air legislation began to kick in. 

    I can remember the Dec 62 smog quite clearly, as a 5 going on 6 year old it made quite an impression. At the time I lived with my parents in Balham, south west London, and during the morning towards lunchtime it turned really dark, nightime dark. In those days street lights were on timers not photocells, so no street lights, just the glimmer of car headlights. School was closed early and I can remember my mother collecting me and walking home with me, about 1 mile. It was spooky. The fog wasnt as dense in the area as nearer the centre of London, but still a major event

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    Posted
  • Location: Sheffield South Yorkshire 160M Powering the Sheffield Shield
  • Weather Preferences: Any Extreme
  • Location: Sheffield South Yorkshire 160M Powering the Sheffield Shield
    9 hours ago, Mark Smithy said:

    p.s. I was thinking playfully (although a serious topic) about the sinking of the Titanic.

    Man-made, right? No. Not entirely.

    I'm sure we all know the various flaws in both design and construction, the human errors of various types which happened from poor rivets, to ramping up speed, to missing binoculars, to glancing the iceberg but ...

    ... fact is also that there were an unusual number of icebergs around, the night was particularly still causing a lack of ripple, and it was a blooming great iceberg sitting in the path of the liner. The sea temperature was also close to freezing so the poor souls who went in the water did not survive for long. So a natural component contributed to the disaster.

    There was a fire in where the cola was stored which weakened the bulkheads.

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