A Brewing Storm at Chew Valley

Chew Valley Lake looking between the trees. © Karen Netto (Andrews)

I set out to blue skies for a walk at Chew Valley Lake. I went with the intention of enjoying the autumn colours.

Autumn colours near Chew Valley Lake. © Karen Netto (Andrews)

This was a familiar place to visit with my parents as a young child. We would go to see the ducks. Chew Valley Lake is a man-made reservoir.

© Karen Netto (Andrews)

The calm scene and sky changed dramatically during my visit.

The sky was blue on my arrival at Chew Valley Lake. © Karen Netto (Andrews)

It is not uncommon for the weather to be different on one side of the Mendips to the other. I don’t remember watching such a dramatic change happen around me before. One half of the sky was blue, while the other turned increasingly grey.

Then, the late afternoon sky turned dramatically black apart from a few ‘skylights’.

Day turned to night with the impending rainstorm. Some light peeped through the clouds
© Karen Netto (Andrews)

Flood Memories

I had to postpone my walk and head back to the car rather than be caught completely out in the open. As I drove away, I recalled dim memories of the Bristol floods of 1968. I was very young then. I wouldn’t have understood adult concerns about insurance cover, compensation and hassle.

I do remember my parents anxiously watching the flood waters lapping at the front doorstep of our new house. The houses of our neighbours opposite flooded. I saw them taking out the ruined, sodden carpets the next day. All the grass seed that my mother had planted ended up growing on next door’s front lawn.

Flash Floods

Everyone worries about the effects of climate change on low-lying ground due to a rise in sea level. As I drove away, I noticed that even on high ground there is a risk of impassable floods in the dips. The water cascades down dangerously. The steep, narrow roads can turn into torrents and flash floods. There was evidence of debris and mud from the previous days’ heavy rain.

1968 Floods

I read up afterwards about the 1968 floods (see below). Lives lost. Fears that the dam would break, as at Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire recently.

Climate Change

Extreme weather events have not been that frequent in my lifetime. They stand out as landmarks in my memory. The frequency is increasing. I was struck by the speed with which that Chew Valley storm swept in. It certainly made me reflect about the threats of climate change. Today’s children will witness many more extreme weather events than I have. A fact of life rather than a distant memory.

Links to Reports

Bristol Live: The Great Flood of 1968 in Bristol

River Chew: The Great Flood of 1968

Independent 12 April 2019: Lost River Returns more than 60 years after it dried up and died

BBC News 7 August 2019: Whaley Bridge dam repair: how events unfolded

BBC News 1 October 2019: Whaley Bridge: Cover-up allegations over dam collapse report

Copyright Note

© Karen Netto (Andrews) 2018-19

These pages illustrate my love of plants, botany, biodiversity, gardens and creative expression. There is always so much to learn about plant diversity. I love sharing. This blog is a showcase for my own photography, commentary on plants and wildlife, gardens and other places visited, horticulture and related topics.

© Karen Netto (Andrews) 2018-19. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karen Netto (Andrews) and botanykaren.net with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

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