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Friday, 13 September, 2002, 12:57 GMT 13:57 UK
Tower blocks 'make Manchester rainy'
High rise flats
Flats are to blame for the rain, it is claimed
A scientist has blamed Manchester's rainy image on tower blocks built in the 1970s.

Professor Christopher Collier said the flats in neighbouring Salford caused an extra 50 millimetres of rain to land in the area.

The Salford University academic told a conference the high rise flats were largely to blame for Manchester's image as the rainy city.

And he warned plans to double housing density in south-east England would have a similar effect there.

Prof Christopher Collier
Prof Collier is an academic at Salford University

Professor Collier told the British Association Festival of Science at Leicester University that buildings could affect the weather if they altered the temperature and air turbulance in their vincinity.

He said turbulence caused by air flying over the flats caused the rain.

Low-level air was thrown up, allowing it to cool so that water vapour condensed into rain.

He said: "Manchester has a reputation for drizzle and miserable weather, and it might have something to do with that mechanism."

Planners 'beware'

The high rise flats and office blocks were built as Salford was redeveloped in the 1970s.

Profesor Collier said that since they were built, areas to the north and north east of the blocks had seen less rain whereas the south and south west - including Manchester - had seen an increase.

He said government plans to increase the housing density in the South East from 24 dwellings per hectare to 30-50 could have similar effects.

He said: "Town planners should be aware of the impact of their buildings on weather."

'Miniscule effect'

But his theory was rejected by forecasters at the Manchester Met Office.

A forecaster told BBC News Online: "The reason why Manchester has a lot of cloudy, rainy weather is that we have a lot of north and north-westerly winds.

"They bring quite moist air in from the Irish Sea which, as it moves over the Pennines, cools and condences, causing rain.

"Whether there's a component of tower blocks I wouldn't like to say, but if there was it would be miniscule."


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