Britain under water

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Britain under water

Postby Angua » Tue Feb 11, 2014 7:38 pm UTC

So, we are currently getting lots and lots of flooding. The Thames has burst its banks, thousands have had to evacuate their homes, and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight. Livestock is also at risk. The Daily Mail is apparently campaigning to have the foreign aid budget diverted to the UK (though I'd have thought that the UK would have some sort of disaster reserve fund for itself).

I haven't been too affected by the flooding yet - however one of the other people in on attachment to Reading hasn't been able to get the train here yet, and it looks like traffic in and out of Oxford is causing massive delay to buses. I'm hoping we'll be able to drive back to Oxford on Friday, but it's a bit early to really be worrying about that yet.
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Re: Britain under water

Postby Wnderer » Tue Feb 11, 2014 8:05 pm UTC

You've had a lot of flooding lately. It seems every time I see British news, someplace is under water.

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Re: Britain under water

Postby SlyReaper » Tue Feb 11, 2014 8:51 pm UTC

My area hasn't flooded, and isn't likely to, but I'm certainly getting bored of the relentless rain. You know how rain and britain are pretty much synonymous? Yeah, this is more rain than even we can cope with. Fuck this weather. It's going to be 2012 all over again...
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Re: Britain under water

Postby Angua » Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:09 pm UTC

What gets me is that you always see these people walking through the water, some of them in shorts. They must be freezing!!!!!

The rain is getting a bit boring. It's got to end eventually though.... right?
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Re: Britain under water

Postby WibblyWobbly » Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:11 pm UTC

If it doesn't stop soon, I suggest shipping it to California.

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Re: Britain under water

Postby Angua » Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:12 pm UTC

Yeah, their livestock is facing the opposite problem.
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Re: Britain under water

Postby Thesh » Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:12 pm UTC

The great UK-CA water slide?
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Re: Britain under water

Postby SlyReaper » Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:15 pm UTC

From what I've been able to glean from news articles, this weather we're having is related to that polar vortex they had in north America a while back. So it's all the Americans' fault.
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Re: Britain under water

Postby pseudoidiot » Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:19 pm UTC

Nah, that started with Canada. #passthebuck
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Re: Britain under water

Postby SlyReaper » Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:58 pm UTC

I said Americans, not USAians. My statement was accurate.
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Re: Britain under water

Postby poxic » Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:58 pm UTC

Hey, I voted no on World Calamity Prop 12. Someone got the swing provinces to vote yes by telling them it would take away their snow and send it elsewhere.
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Re: Britain under water

Postby pseudoidiot » Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:06 pm UTC

SlyReaper wrote:I said Americans, not USAians. My statement was accurate.
I was just narrowing it down and absolving myself of all blame.
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Re: Britain under water

Postby Thesh » Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:17 pm UTC

I think the whole thing actually originated in Greenland, probably not by accident either.
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Re: Britain under water

Postby pseudoidiot » Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:20 pm UTC

I blame that Spanish baby.
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Re: Britain under water

Postby Sheikh al-Majaneen » Wed Feb 12, 2014 2:32 am UTC

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Re: Britain under water

Postby Princess Marzipan » Wed Feb 12, 2014 5:52 am UTC

pseudoidiot wrote:I blame that Spanish baby.
I understood that reference.
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Re: Britain under water

Postby leady » Wed Feb 12, 2014 12:49 pm UTC

Yes its frigging miserable and yes for the few thousand people with a foot of water on their ground floor is pretty turd.

Lets be honest though in a country with real disasters, they would laugh at what they'd see as little more than an inconvienence. Anything that looks vaguely disasterous is always overplayed in the UK :)

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Re: Britain under water

Postby jseah » Wed Feb 12, 2014 1:56 pm UTC

SlyReaper wrote:You know how rain and britain are pretty much synonymous? Yeah, this is more rain than even we can cope with.

Lol, coming from Singapore where it rains more days than not (humidity basically is never below 80%), and where we have Real thunderstorms (and not those piss poor drizzles I saw when I was in UK), and where we have basically no height at all...

We have storm drains two lanes wide and two floors deep. It still floods sometimes in some areas.

If the UK rains as much as people complain about, then why don't you have storm drains too?
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Re: Britain under water

Postby Grop » Wed Feb 12, 2014 2:04 pm UTC

Many places in France have been flooded too lately. "Britain under water" doesn't sound like news.

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Re: Britain under water

Postby Angua » Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:22 pm UTC

Is France not treating your flooding as news then? Because the sheer amount of water and levels that we're seeing at the moment counts as news here.

People here often complain about having lots of rain, but generally it's actually not that heavy. It's just a very prolonged drizzle that goes on for ages and ages, but soaks into the ground and doesn't really build up enough for run-off (so massive storm drains aren't as necessary). The rain more recently has been a lot heavier (almost on par with tropical rainstorms at time) and lasting a lot longer.

In the tropics, you get a lot of rain showers and downpours, but it often doesn't last for days on end, or you get patches of sun in between (or even while the downpour is happening). Here it's just more depressing because it's just this constant grey drizzle that you don't even really need a coat when going for a short distance (eg to a car) as you don't get that wet (try going out in the tropics when it's raining, you get soaked pretty quickly).

Edit to show how this compares to groundwater levels since records began.
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Re: Britain under water

Postby Zamfir » Wed Feb 12, 2014 5:22 pm UTC

If the UK rains as much as people complain about, then why don't you have storm drains too?

Huge storm drains wouldn't solve this. They are to deal with local intense rain, when a built up area might be temporarily flooded if the pathways out of the area are saturated. They require a nearby area that is both unflooded and lower, to run the water too.

These British areas are not directly flooded by local rain. The problem is that the rivers can't deal with the rain upstream, so they grow wider and flood nearby regions. Those regions have no nearby lower unflooded areas to run drains to.

The defense against this are unbuilt flood plains, not drains. But obviously, if a plain hasn't flooded in a long time, it becomes tempting to build there anyway... And if some parts of the river get tightened by high embankments or dykes, then other parts might discover that a high river grows wider than it used to do historically.

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Re: Britain under water

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Feb 12, 2014 6:16 pm UTC

Can they dredge the rivers to make them deeper? Also, yeah, not a good idea to build on flood plains, at least not without damming the river upstream, but that leads to other problems as well.
Last edited by CorruptUser on Wed Feb 12, 2014 6:20 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Britain under water

Postby morriswalters » Wed Feb 12, 2014 6:17 pm UTC

This happens in the US every so often, particularly along the major rivers. There we have flood walls and levees protecting inhabited areas. I live in Louisville, Kentucky along the Ohio and we get floods every year. Bad floods every 20 or so. Our flood walls protect against 100 year floods. My best wishes to the people in Britain and those places where it is flooding.

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Re: Britain under water

Postby EMTP » Wed Feb 12, 2014 6:40 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:This happens in the US every so often, particularly along the major rivers. There we have flood walls and levees protecting inhabited areas. I live in Louisville, Kentucky along the Ohio and we get floods every year. Bad floods every 20 or so. Our flood walls protect against 100 year floods. My best wishes to the people in Britain and those places where it is flooding.


The 100-year-floodplain area in the US is expected to increase by about 30% by 2100, due to climate change (http://www.aecom.com/deployedfiles/Inte ... -06-11.pdf). Existing 100-year floodplains will be more likely to encounter 500-year floods.
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Re: Britain under water

Postby Heisenberg » Wed Feb 12, 2014 8:19 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Can they dredge the rivers to make them deeper? Also, yeah, not a good idea to build on flood plains, at least not without damming the river upstream, but that leads to other problems as well.

Unless your government provides you with flood insurance, in which case it's a pretty awesome idea. Plus, you get to be on the news every few years!

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Re: Britain under water

Postby Zamfir » Wed Feb 12, 2014 8:32 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Can they dredge the rivers to make them deeper? Also, yeah, not a good idea to build on flood plains, at least not without damming the river upstream, but that leads to other problems as well.

Yes, they can. That increases the available cross area, and more important the average flow velocity. This is similar to building dykes, or straightening the river.

There is a problem here: flood plains do not only act as emergency throughput-increasers. They are also buffers. If there are temporary surges in water supply, then a widening and shrinking river dampens those surges by storing water. So the river has a more even flow. Like protective capacitors in an electric circuit, or elastic blood vessels.

You can a channelize a river with a dreged bedding, high dykes, removed bends. Then that channelized part can handle surges easily, but it doesn't buffer. So when more and more regions channelize their part of the river, you also get stronger surges, and more pressure on the weakest parts. Like the stiffer veins of old people.

That's OK if you have a few urban areas with low-populated land in between. The channels protect the urban areas, and the other land acts as buffer. But in Britain (and, naturally, here in the Netherlands), that "low-populated" land tends to be rather full of angry people.

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Re: Britain under water

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Feb 12, 2014 9:09 pm UTC

Heisenberg wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:Can they dredge the rivers to make them deeper? Also, yeah, not a good idea to build on flood plains, at least not without damming the river upstream, but that leads to other problems as well.

Unless your government provides you with flood insurance, in which case it's a pretty awesome idea. Plus, you get to be on the news every few years!


Fuck subsidized flood insurance. Wait no, fucking is for people I like. Subsidized flood insurance is taxing safety to subsidize risk. If I want to have a dream house on top of an active volcano (no Mr. Bond, I expect you to wipe your feet), unless it's part of a vulcanology grant I shouldn't have the taxpayers keep paying to rebuild my home every time it burns down.

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Re: Britain under water

Postby Vahir » Thu Feb 13, 2014 2:23 am UTC

February floods?

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Re: Britain under water

Postby sardia » Thu Feb 13, 2014 2:31 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:
Heisenberg wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:Can they dredge the rivers to make them deeper? Also, yeah, not a good idea to build on flood plains, at least not without damming the river upstream, but that leads to other problems as well.

Unless your government provides you with flood insurance, in which case it's a pretty awesome idea. Plus, you get to be on the news every few years!


Fuck subsidized flood insurance. Wait no, fucking is for people I like. Subsidized flood insurance is taxing safety to subsidize risk. If I want to have a dream house on top of an active volcano (no Mr. Bond, I expect you to wipe your feet), unless it's part of a vulcanology grant I shouldn't have the taxpayers keep paying to rebuild my home every time it burns down.

If I had a choice between subsidizing volcanoes or flood insurance, I'll take the volcanoes. One, the view is infinitely better, and two, volcanoes are considered "active" if they've erupted in the last 10,000 years.

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Re: Britain under water

Postby DireKobold » Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:50 am UTC

So I was just reading about the Thames flood barrier. (I'd post a link, but I'm too new). For some reason I got the impression that it had prevented most of the flooding, is that not the case? The included map which shows what would have flooded without it was pretty interesting.

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Re: Britain under water

Postby Derek » Thu Feb 13, 2014 4:43 am UTC

DireKobold wrote:So I was just reading about the Thames flood barrier. (I'd post a link, but I'm too new). For some reason I got the impression that it had prevented most of the flooding, is that not the case? The included map which shows what would have flooded without it was pretty interesting.

The Thames flood barrier is designed to prevent floods in the other direction: From the North Sea inland.

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Re: Britain under water

Postby Adacore » Thu Feb 13, 2014 6:41 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:That's OK if you have a few urban areas with low-populated land in between. The channels protect the urban areas, and the other land acts as buffer. But in Britain (and, naturally, here in the Netherlands), that "low-populated" land tends to be rather full of angry people.

This is somewhat true, but I don't think it's the main factor. I think the main reason it's a problem in the UK is the same as the reason a relatively small amount of snow shuts down the country - it just doesn't happen often enough, or have a large enough monetary impact, for planning against it more than is already done to be economical.

And really, there is actually quite a lot of effective flood defense in the UK - I saw some figures from the UK Environment Agency saying that 1.3 million homes would be flooded by this amount of rain without any of the extant defenses*, rather than the few thousand that are flooded as it is. Thus far, the number of properties flooded is around 10% of the number flooded in 2007, the big deal with this one is that the floods are expected to stick around for a long time, which is entirely unprecedented.

*I imagine in the Netherlands this figure would be close to 'every home'.

EDIT: Here's a handy flood defenses guide.

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Re: Britain under water

Postby addams » Thu Feb 13, 2014 7:02 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:Can they dredge the rivers to make them deeper? Also, yeah, not a good idea to build on flood plains, at least not without damming the river upstream, but that leads to other problems as well.

Yes, they can. That increases the available cross area, and more important the average flow velocity. This is similar to building dykes, or straightening the river.

There is a problem here: flood plains do not only act as emergency throughput-increasers. They are also buffers. If there are temporary surges in water supply, then a widening and shrinking river dampens those surges by storing water. So the river has a more even flow. Like protective capacitors in an electric circuit, or elastic blood vessels.

You can a channelize a river with a dreged bedding, high dykes, removed bends. Then that channelized part can handle surges easily, but it doesn't buffer. So when more and more regions channelize their part of the river, you also get stronger surges, and more pressure on the weakest parts. Like the stiffer veins of old people.

That's OK if you have a few urban areas with low-populated land in between. The channels protect the urban areas, and the other land acts as buffer. But in Britain (and, naturally, here in the Netherlands), that "low-populated" land tends to be rather full of angry people.

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Re: Britain under water

Postby leady » Thu Feb 13, 2014 10:42 am UTC

Also in a bit of a mean spirited way I find it quite hard to care too much about the recent flooding areas

Its fair to say that most of these people living in flood plains are all middle to upper middle class, its hardly New Orleans

On the banks of the thames west of London, those properties are probably worth a minimum of $1m each.

so I think its a bit rich that the government is falling over itself to create moral hazards all over the place for rich people.

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Re: Britain under water

Postby yurell » Thu Feb 13, 2014 11:10 am UTC

Apparently a there has been a decent amount of lead poisoning of animals in the UK because of floods (paywalled paper, news report). Thought this would be an appropriate place to deposit this information.
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Re: Britain under water

Postby Zamfir » Thu Feb 13, 2014 11:21 am UTC

so I think its a bit rich that the government is falling over itself to create moral hazards all over the place for rich people

When people built these houses, could they know that this was going to be the weak spot along the river's defenses? That's not always obvious. When some regions build up strong flood defenses around a narrow channel, the river will become more likely to expand into other regions. 'moral hazard' would mean that the house owners could have controlled that process, which I find unlikely.

The combined decisions of river management along the entire river have made this region the pressure valve of the system, the part that floods so that other parts don't flood. Seems only reasonable that the resulting cost is mostly borne by the people who didn't get flooded. Unless, of course, these houses were built in designated flood areas, and the owners could know that.

Perhaps it's an overly Dutch way of looking, but I find it weird to see such floods as uncontrollable acts of nature. They are really more failure modes of a mostly human-created system of river defenses.

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Re: Britain under water

Postby leady » Thu Feb 13, 2014 12:17 pm UTC

it doesn't really matter to me, I tend to stand on the views that

a) Government spending should never prop up rich people
b) People who buy beautiful houses on rivers are implictity accepting their ground floor being ruined every 25 years

The netherlands is somewhat different in flooding paranoia for good reason. British flooding is temporary and localised, Dutch flooding I suspect would be very very scary and dangerous.

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Re: Britain under water

Postby Angua » Thu Feb 13, 2014 2:02 pm UTC

You do realise that it's not just people who have riverside houses who are being flooded? The flooding is extending quite a ways out. However, I can't really comment on the exact demographics of everyone who currently flooding, but certainly all the people being interviewed about being flooded don't give off the upper middle class vibe (though some do). Perhaps you are more aware of the statistics though. I'm glad that you are personally not affected by the flooding.

Yurell - the link about cattle getting lead poisoning from water contamination was pretty interesting - lead getting into the food chain certainly wouldn't be very good for us. I'm certainly interested to see if there are any more health risks that are being found - there was that one boy who died which was unclear on whether or not it would be connected to the floods.
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Re: Britain under water

Postby FLHerne » Thu Feb 13, 2014 10:30 pm UTC

Derek wrote:
DireKobold wrote:So I was just reading about the Thames flood barrier. (I'd post a link, but I'm too new). For some reason I got the impression that it had prevented most of the flooding, is that not the case? The included map which shows what would have flooded without it was pretty interesting.

The Thames flood barrier is designed to prevent floods in the other direction: From the North Sea inland.
Apparently (BBC) it can be used to indirectly reduce river flooding, by keeping the tide out so the lower Thames can keep filling up from the river without the tide pushing water back upstream. Presumably this only affects levels below Teddington Lock, but there's a lot of expensive stuff down there.

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Re: Britain under water

Postby Grop » Thu Feb 13, 2014 11:20 pm UTC

Angua wrote:Is France not treating your flooding as news then? Because the sheer amount of water and levels that we're seeing at the moment counts as news here.


I didn't mean to be serious here, only to point as Britain being under water to be the usual stereotype.

(But really many places in my country have been flooded as well).


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