The blanketing weather news about extreme drought in the western U.S. and unusual cold and snow over much of the country east of the Mississippi River — combined with news from the unusually warm winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia — may have left many Americans in the dark about storms battering the western coastline of the U.K since the start of the year.
“Historic” and “epic” are terms commonly being used across Great Britain to describe what BBC has called “weeks and weeks and weeks” of continuous pounding rains and flooding. “Quite phenomenal” is the term glaciologist Alun Hubbard applies to the beating Aberystwyth has taken, along with much of the southwest U.K. coastline. He recounts a 150-year storm with 30- to 40-foot waves in January, followed a week later by a 100-year flood, and soon after by a 50-year flood. He pauses — “It’s quite incredible keeping up with all this” before mentioning the previous day’s hurricane packing 100-mph winds. “Pretty phenomenal for this part of the world,” says Hubbard in a new Yale Forum video produced by independent videographer Peter Sinclair.
A CBS News interviewer asks if the jet-stream-fed 2013 winter storms across the U.S. in effect served as a “storm factory” for the U.K. “A conveyor belt of sorts across the Atlantic,” replies the interviewee.
With the U.K. Met Office calling the rainfall in the U.K. the worst in at least 248 years, Chief Met Office Scientist Dame Julia Slingo describes “the basic science here that points to a compounding effect, if you like, of climate change on the very extreme rainfall, very severe levels of storminess, and possibly even the very prolonged clustering of storms that we’ve seen throughout this winter.”
Glaciologist Hubbard says he sees very slim likelihood that the series of unusual storms occurred naturally.