I blogged a couple of years ago about the Doncaster floods of 2007 being the ‘first 21st century flood‘. The argument was that they had been caused not by high sea levels or accumulated water run-off, but because the water table and local river systems had been unable to absorb the sheer weight of rain that had fallen. There’s an excellent graphic in a story in New Civil Engineer (inserted above, click on it to enlarge) of the Cockermouth flooding which tells exactly the same story. The article also explains why the bridges collapsed.
The killer statistic is that there was 314mm of rain on the fells over 24 hours – compared to a November daily average of 10mm – in other words, 30 times as much rain as the average. One of the features of climate change is heavier and more intense rainfall. Given Cockermouth’s position at the confluence of two rivers, and its recent history of flooding, it made me wonder if it could become the first town in Britain to be abandoned because of global warming.