Your Participation is Not Optional
December 28, 2015
It is late December, Washington, DC, suburbs and things are out-of-whack. Roses and azaleas blooming in the garden with cut flowers adorning the dining room table and enough lettuce coming up that we’re looking toward fresh salad from the garden for a New Year’s brunch.
Let me tell you: this is not normal. Actually, correction: this was not normal and sadly is likely a sign of ‘the new normal’: weird weather, with new extremes of all types, amid a warming global ecosystem.
Washington is warm — record-setting warm.
Even the cherry blossoms are confused, looking like mid-April rather than December.
And, while it gets warm during the day, it isn’t cooling at night.
This isn’t just DC.
“According to preliminary data from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), at least 2,693 record daily highs were tied or broken across the U.S. during the first 23 days of December. An additional 3,912 record-warm daily low temperatures have been set during the same time period,” the Weather Channel reported. “By comparison, just 147 daily record lows and 140 additional record cool highs were set in the same time frame.”
Let us be clear, for a moment, this is not isolated either temporally nor geographically. Here, for example, is Minnesota with the question “what is happening to winter?” In the UK, daffodils are blooming at Windsor Castle.
Temperatures are going up globally — writ large — year to year. Decade-to-decade, ever more warm temperature records are getting broken than cold ones (for daily highs and warm minimums, and for average temperatures). And, this is happening globally, with 2015 blasting through the record books and surpassing 2014 as the warmest year on record.
It was the day the floodwaters inexorably advanced across the Pennines, leaving much of the north of England sodden and beleaguered. From Greater Manchester in the north-west to parts of North Yorkshire some 50 miles to the east, Boxing Day 2015 will be remembered as the day the rains came.
With fields and fells already saturated after more than four times the average monthly rainfall falling within the first three weeks of December, there was nowhere left to absorb the rainfall which has cascaded from fields into streams and rivers. Flooding was inevitable and by yesterday morning the first warnings were issued.
The Environment Agency said that, in anticipation of the floods, 85% of the country’s temporary flood barriers had been sent to Cumbria, where rainfall had smashed records earlier this month and where yesterday’s storm was expected to hit.
However, the deluge was unleashed slightly to the south. “Lancashire is experiencing the rainfall expected in Cumbria and a further 50mm to 80mm may fall in the next six to nine hours,” police said. Yesterday the 2nd Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, which had been helping communities in Cumbria on Christmas Eve, moved to Lancashire to help evacuate residents.
In Walsden, Abbi Blackburn was left stranded in her home after five feet of water poured into her cellar. “We’ve lost two freezers, my washer and dryer. It’s at least five feet deep down there. The Environment Agency rang up and said something about evacuation, but we’re not leaving, we’re staying put.”