Dec
26

Nothing to see here, swim along

By

It was the warmest Christmas on record in New York City, with swimmers out at Coney Island and Rockaway Beach and record highs from Maine to Florida. Oh, and rare December tornadoes in Michigan, Indiana, and across the South. Even without what could turn out to be the most powerful El Niño on record, “The bottom line is that the world is warming,” Jessica Blunden, a NOAA climate scientist in Asheville, N.C. told the New York Times in October.

Today is the eleventh anniversary of the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed nearly a quarter million people. It is also known as the Boxing Day tsunami, after the December 26th tradition in the Britain and its former colonies. The British Isles face their own Boxing Day natural disaster this morning:

Residents of two northern towns have been evacuated and sixteen flood warnings have been issued in Scotland. Instagram video of the flooding in one Yorkshire town here. Rivers are topping their banks:

This report is from yesterday:

Up to six inches of rain are expected in Cumbria overnight, raising concerns that some parts of the county could be in for a fourth bout of flooding as Storm Eva rolled into the north of England bringing winds of up to 80mph.

Environment Secretary Liz Truss convened a meeting of Cobra – the Cabinet office emergency response committee – as armed forces and hundreds of Environment Agency staff helped bolster flood defences. They piled up sandbags, installed an 20 extra water pumps – which can move as much as 1,000 litres a second – and put up more than three kilometres of temporary flood barriers that had been rushed to the north of England.

Truss issued this statement minutes ago:

Torrential rain throughout the night and continuing this morning in Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cumbria has made protecting communities there our primary concern today.

Severe flood warnings were issued early this morning by the Environment Agency, due to the impact of further rain on already saturated ground, in Lancashire. There are also ongoing concerns around possible impacts in Yorkshire which we are monitoring closely.

Overnight local response teams worked to mitigate the expected effects of the coming rain including deploying temporary defences, and we are warning and informing across these areas with the help of police to alert residents to be prepared to evacuate. Rest centres are opening across Lancashire.

This is a very fast moving situation and we have been deploying critical response teams and personnel overnight to where they are most needed.

Floods minister Rory Stewart told BBC Radio 4:

“Certainly what we’ve seen is rainfall levels that nobody’s ever seen before.

“If somebody had said two years ago when we were designing these flood defences that we could get 13 inches of rain in a day, the answer from the engineers would have been: ‘Why are you making that kind of prediction? We have never seen this before.’

“I think this is why people are right to start focusing on uncertainty and why people obviously are very interested in the question of climate change.”

Well, not all people. Looking at you, “the only climate-denying conservative party in the world.”

As Hullabaloo reader Rob Lewis wrote after 196 countries signed the Paris climate accord, “If virtually everybody is in on a conspiracy, is it still a conspiracy?”

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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