I set out to blue skies for a walk at Chew Valley Lake. I went with the intention of enjoying the autumn colours.
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.
The calm scene and sky changed dramatically during my visit.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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
© 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.
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