February 2020 Monthly Report – Wet and Wild

There was a very wild start to February, although it was relatively mild.

Storm Ciara over the weekend of 8th/9th brought damaging gusts and flooding. The worst of it passed to the South of us, but there was major flooding in Yorkshire and winds gusted to 93mph in Wales.

The River Wear rose dramatically during the morning of Sunday 9th to peak at 3.05m late on the evening, flooding riverside paths.

Wintry showers on 10th-12th. Snowfall for the Midlands, Scotland and Pennines 15-20cm on high ground. Severe drifting on high ground.

The next storm (Storm Dennis) arrived on 15th/16th and was similar to Ciara. The river in Durham peaked at around the 3m mark again and the wind was very strong from the West. It stayed above 3m for many hours this time, with riverside flooding again causing problems. Once again, the south of the country was hit hard, particularly South Wales.

Some snow arrived in Durham late in the month on the 24th, but it lasted less than a day. From waking to a 2” covering on the morning, it had all gone by mid-afternoon.

The third and last big storm of the month (all at weekends!) was Jorge, named by the Spanish Met Office which duly arrived on the 29th (Leap Year this year).

People around the Ironbridge area in Shropshire are in a desperate situation with flooding on the River Severn. There was also extensive flooding in Yorkshire around the Doncaster area.

The mean temperature for February was 5.4 degC by the traditional method of max+min/2 method. The highest absolute maximum was 10.5 degC during the passing of Storm Ciara. There were no air frosts at all recorded during the month.

The 9th was also the wettest day with 23.0mm of rain recorded. We also had yet another monthly total over 70mm in the last 12 months (this was the 7th time). The final total was 88.4mm.

On the last day of February, the barometer fell to 970.9mb during the passing of Storm Jorge (named by the Spanish Met Office). Heavy snow fell on the Pennines and there was a report in the Northern Echo about people being rescued from their cars in the Upper Teesdale area.

There were only 5 days that could be described as anticyclonic. Four of these were in the first week.






Storm Ciara causes flooding in Durham

Storm Ciara batters the UK

After spending a fair bit of time concentrating on the wind speeds, we sort of forgot about the rain that Storm Ciara was going to deliver. Thankfully we missed some of the squall lines that hit further south. My total for rainfall was only 22.9mm, but obviously far more fell on the catchment areas on the Pennines.

A walk to the riverside was needed and as I was coming down from Gilesgate I decided the best way was the pathway that goes directly to the river down past Hild and Bede College.

When I got there, the water was already over the riverside path in both directions.


To my amazement, there were still people trying to jog along the riverside paths! They were using the little levee between the path and the raging river, with all it’s little hidden dips and gaps that are there to catch the unwary. This guy sensibly swapped onto the path and just got his feet wet.

Two kids then came along on their pushbikes. They at least stopped where I was and asked me if I thought it was safe to go on. I explained that it got deeper heading towards Baths Bridge. One of them tried and turned back when it got axle-deep. I wasn’t joking! Once their pedals were underwater it was impossible to pedal anywhere.

A near fatal accident involving the river

I then witnessed something so stupid that I only realised afterwards that we could have had another river fatality on our hands. However it does explain why so many supposedly intelligent people manage to end up in the River Wear.

A girl (a student I think) approached from the rowing club direction. She had a rucksack on and she’d decided she was going to just walk along the grass levee. Unlike the jogger in the photo above, she didn’t fancy getting her feet very wet on the path, so chanced walking the line on the levee, two feet from the raging river. This all took place about 30 yards to my left.

Unknown to her, and concealed by the water, was one of those little muddy ‘chutes that wildlife use. She stepped down Into it and then fell over. She was up to her waist in water, right on the edge of the river. If she’d over-balanced because of the rucksack, she’d have been swept away. It could have even pulled her in, so strong was the current. Somehow, she managed to haul herself back out. How dim can you be????

A lucky escape and as she came past me, dripping wet, she still seemed quite oblivious to the fact that she’d come so close to losing her life. I really do despair sometimes about how little common sense people have. 😳

River Peaked at 3.05m

The river finally peaked at 3.05m. That is about 2.6m above normal.

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