Warning over cost of record rainfall in Lancashire

If you think Lancashire weather is back to normal this week and that seemingly constant rain is our companion - you could be right!

Tuesday, 12th January 2021, 11:44 pm
Muriel Lord pictured checking daily rainfall levels
Muriel Lord pictured checking daily rainfall levels

Official confirmation that part of the county saw record rainfall in the past 12 months has come from veteran weather watcher Muriel Lord.

For Muriel, who lives in the hills in Ribble Valley, it was the wettest year since her family began recording the rainfall on their farm more than 50 years ago.

The sobering statistics are giving her real cause for concern, and she believes farmers, all who work on the land and those who have responsibility for buildings and infrastructure must share that concern.

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Extract from chart prepared by Muriel's son Martin showing the rainfall readings for 2020, compared with the average rainfall recorded during the 50 plus years the family has been keeping rainfall records.

Her manual rain gauge which is used to supply daily readings to the Met (Meteorological) Office is located about a mile from the summit of Parlick Pike.

She said: “Our family have been involved since September 1968 after Met Office staff called in and asked if we would like to help. They wanted a site near the Chipping Brook at about 500ft. As farmers, we were delighted to be involved and have always found the rainfall data useful."

Muriel continued: “2020 was an exceptionally wet year. The rainfall total of 2009.6 mm (79.1 inches) was the highest annual amount recorded in the last 50 years. It beat the previous record of 1984.0 mm in 2012 and was about 35% up on the annual average ... 2020 is now part of the group of very wet years have which have occurred since the late 1990s, part of an upward trend in rainfall.”

According to Muriel's daily recordings February saw a record 333.2mm and July a record 266mm of rainfall.

Veteran weather watcher Muriel Lord has warned that the trend towards much higher rainfall locally could have significant economic and health impacts

She said: “If this very wet weather continues as a climate change issue in our area we may have to be aware of an economic hit (with) restrictions on farming and growing and other outdoor work, impact on land use and plant growth, damage to buildings and infrastructure by flooding and water ingress."

She predicted potential health problems caused by reduced sunlight and damp buildings and anxiety about animal health, crop failure and difficulties harvesting crops.

As for the cause of the rain Muriel said: "It is likely this extra rain is linked to global warming. The increasing heat and energy in the atmosphere is stimulating powerful low pressure systems. Their airstreams crossing the warmed Atlantic pick up huge amounts of moisture which is dropped on our western areas, especially on our exposed hills.

"During the year, there were several “named” storms and some ex hurricanes. Two of these, Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis, contributed to February’s record rainfall, 333.2mm, which was about three times the average amount."

She noted the total for July 2020 was over twice the average of the July readings taken since 1969.

Muriel said: "In sunless rainy July, garden vegetables gave up."

She also noted it had been a very difficult summer for outdoor work with local fields too wet for machinery.

Earlier in the year there was two months of "almost dry and sunny warm weather" after rain stopped in mid March.

Muriel added: "November started with the wettest day of the year, 61.7 mm, when we had a brush with ex Hurricane Zeta."

The weather year in Chipping ended with snow and frost following rain on Boxing Day.

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