The United Kingdom does experience severe weather due to its maritime temperate climate with occasional continental and arctic influences. These can bring with them heavy rain or snow, strong winds and extreme temperatures. As experience has shown, severe weather can take a variety of forms and at times can cause significant problems and disruption to normal life. Over the coming years, we are likely to see rising temperatures and sea levels, and an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events in the UK. Weather forecasting can now give warning of most events and offer general advice.
There are many types of severe weather that can have a serious local impact in the UK. The main types of severe weather that we need to plan for include storms and gales, low temperatures and heavy snow, heat wave and drought.
A storm battered many parts of the UK on 18 January 2007, with gusts of wind up to 77mph recorded at Heathrow. This caused 9 deaths and widespread damage to trees and buildings across the UK, along with power disruption. Strong winds can cause significant disruption to businesses due to structural damage and route blockages.
In February 2007, snow caused disruption across central areas of England and Wales resulting in school closures, power outages and people being unable to get to work for 1 or 2 days depending on location. In February 2009 heavy snow again brought transport disruptions and affected individuals and organisations across the country. There have also been a number of occasions recorded where snow has covered large areas of the country for over a week.
The hot summer of 2003 is estimated to have resulted in 2045 excess deaths, mainly among vulnerable people. Since then, the Heat Health Watch system has been introduced and during the hot weather of July 2006 significantly fewer (680) excess deaths were recorded.
Some of the impacts of severe weather are:
Storms and Gales
- Danger to life from windswept objects including falling trees and structural failures
- Damage to property
- Damage to electricity and telephone lines
- Travel disruption
Low Temperatures and Heavy Snow
- Travel disruption
- Risk of people, particularly the vulnerable, being affected by health threatening low temperatures
- Power and water failures
- School and public building closures
- An increased number of admissions to hospital and consultations with GPs due to sunburn, heat exhaustion, respiratory problems and other illnesses such as food poisoning;
- Increased vehicle breakdowns due to overheating engines;
- Road surfaces deteriorating as tarmac begins to melt.
Severe weather and Lincolnshire
The flat nature of Lincolnshire’s landscape and the widely spread population mean that weather can have a greater impact on the county than other areas of the country. Our reliance on the road network to go about our daily lives becomes evident when it is disrupted by severe weather events.
There is nothing we can do at a local level to reduce the likelihood of severe weather events; however we can be prepared for these events in order to stay safe and maintain essential services.