ABC of Weather: eXtreme Weather *

Worst flooding on the Wiltshire Avon since 1947: Lacock 16th January 2008

As we're a nation obsessed with the weather, any story about its extremes always hits the headlines. In contrast to the above scene, we're currently being bombarded with news of how dry the past few months have been and the north west of England in particular may need to have a hosepipe ban if there's no significant rainfall in the next few weeks.

They've had around 38% of their usual rainfall so far this year, so reservoirs in the area are already looking rather low. They must be pleased rain is forecast for tomorrow, but according to this article in The Telegraph, they're going to need lots more to make up the 4 inches of soil moisture deficit they currently have. It's rather ironic the north west is experiencing drought conditions, as it was here in the Lake District where the highest total of rainfall ever in 24 hours was recorded only last November. It shows how quickly the situation can change.

I've compared my rain gauge readings with the 30 year average available for my nearest weather station at Lyneham. The situation's not so bad here (around 80% of usual rainfall), though it still means I haven't been able to do any digging on my allotment for many weeks. The clay is solid and cracked and I'm wondering whether I'll ever be able to plant the squash, pumpkin and cabbage seedlings I'm so carefully nurturing at home. I believe the unusually strong winds we seem to be getting more regularly on fine days here is contributing to the situation being worse than my rainfall statistics would suggest.

So far I've resisted doing lots of watering both at home and on the plot as I believe in tough love with my plants thus encouraging them to grow deep strong roots so they can forage for water themselves. However, this morning I've had to start some watering at the allotment as my potted blueberries were in a most sorry state. We have hard tap water here because its mainly drawn from chalk and limestone sources, so I've had to choose between not watering and them dying, or watering them and their leaves turning a sickly yellow colour due to an iron deficiency. I've told them they're going to get a juicy seaweed feed with sequestered iron next time, to try and redress the balance of this morning's lime application a little. It's about time I put my allotment water butt by the shed so I can start collecting some nice soft rainwater for these plants...

For you stats fans out there, the Met Office has lots of extreme weather information for you and reports on various past extreme weather events in the UK.

How's the weather with you today? Have you ever experienced any extreme weather?

Do visit the ABC Wednesday Blog for more information of the eXcellent kind.

* Yes I know I've cheated a little for my letter X, but I did say at the outset this was the one letter I was struggling with for my weather ABC. I did think of Xeriscaping - as did some of you when I announced my theme for this round of ABC Wednesday - but that's more of a gardening technique in reaction to climate rather than a direct aspect of the weather itself. Besides, I wanted to talk about weather records at some point and this seemed the ideal time to do so!


  1. Yes, I think your word works better for your theme.

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  2. It's been stonking hot here today - so much so that I actually had to give up gardening and come inside as it was all a bit much!Unheard of!:(

    I confess that I have been watering my plants a bit - but only where the hosepipe will reach. The other stuff has to fend for itself as I'm not lugging heavy watering cans uphill in this heat! :D

  3. Well done, this has proved to be a fascinating series of posts.
    It certainly seems that our weather is getting more extreme more often which is a worrying trend, especially for us gardeners! Flighty xx

  4. eep! We're had a lot of rain too bt no flooding (knock wood).

  5. Wild photo! Weather records here for the winter and spring months have been broken one after another. Amazing. Wonderful post!

  6. I like your 'X' solution.
    & oh my this weather looks quite serious. We've had some extremes this year too with high winds and falling trees.

  7. You'll have to start planting xerophytes - but as far as I know, they don't produce blueberries!

    On behalf of the team, thanks for taking part in ABC Wednesday this week! :)

  8. Roger - thanks

    Nutty gnome - it's been too hot to garden most days here too recently. I try to do a couple of hours in the cool of the morning

    Flighty - Glad you're enjoying it. Sadly (for me) there's just 2 posts to go and lots more I could have rambled on about!

    Monica - we're due some rain today

    Tumblewords - it's now officially the driest its been since 1929 and that follows on from the hardest winter for 30 years!

    Lily - luckily no high winds here - yet. We did have a couple of trees fall into our garden a couple of years ago...

    Jay - no they don't produce blueberries! I do have xerophytes in some parts of my garden, but draw the line at my edible endevours ;)

  9. A suggestion for your blueberries -

    Put a couple of teabags (or a day's worth of used teabags) in a big jug. Pour on boiling water and leave overnight. Use to water acid-loving plants the next day. The acidity of the tea is supposed to neutralise the alkalinity of the hard water.

    If it doesn't work, blame Alan Titchmarsh, from whom I got the idea!

  10. I remember one day in 1985 (I think) in Bath when the temps were way up around 30 C and I thought I would die. Here in Miami I routinely garden in 32+ during the summer months. We don't have extreme amounts of rainfall, but we do get deluges -- 4" last night, for example. It's so flat here that we don't have the kind of flooding that you get.

  11. Juliet - great tip thanks :)

    Penny - I think we get higher humidity (usually) over here which is what makes it so unbearable compared to where you are in Miami


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