Flooding and stormy weather comment: 'Ministers' continuing kneejerk reaction is worrying' and 'Asian rains influencing UK 'storm factory'
Release Date 10 February 2014
Is the UK Government's response to the widespread flooding the correct one? How is the weather in Asia responsible for the storms? University of Reading experts explore these and other issues below.
Dr Hannah Cloke, flood expert and Associate Professor in Hydrology, University of Reading, responds to Community Minister Eric Pickles' comment on the Andrew Marr show:
"Ministers' continuing kneejerk reaction is worrying. It's crazy to be trying to command and control very local dredging operations from Whitehall without any consideration of the scientific evidence of flood risk or value for money. The idea that dredging on its own would have made the critical difference over the last month is fanciful.
"This crisis has been years in the making and will be years in the solving. There are no easy answers. We need to think very carefully about exactly how we're spending our money for flood risk management. We need to accept that floods will happen. Nobody can promise to stop them - they are part of nature."
Dr Andrew Barrett, a storm expert at the University of Reading, said:
"The storm factory which is importing so much misery to Britain is on the Atlantic coast of America. But in common with many other, more earthly factories, it is being powered by events and activity in Asia.
"This Met Office report highlights how unusually heavy rain around Indonesia, in the tropical west Pacific, is helping to knock the jet stream off its usual course. This has helped to pull polar air across North America - bringing exceptionally cold weather to parts of the United States - which, in turn, is clashing with warm tropical air over the Atlantic. This is creating a construction line of weather systems and storms, as well as speeding up the jet stream, which is steering the storms directly over Britain.
"This constant battering has not ceased for almost two months, and shows no sign of stopping yet. At the University of Reading's weather station, we have had the wettest 55-day period, at any time of the year, for more than 80 years, and we've now had around half a year's worth of rain since December 15."