Local BBC Sites

Neighbouring Sites

Page last updated at 13:09 GMT, Monday, 20 September 2010 14:09 UK
Wild Weather
By Dr Matthew Collins
Associate Professor in Climate Systems and Vice President of the Royal Meterological Society

Boscastle Floods
The Boscastle Floods took place in August 2004 but it will never be forgotten

Our usual memory of Cornish wild weather is of being huddled behind a wind break to avoid being blasted by a fine white sand that has a special ability to penetrate even the most carefully of sealed packed lunches.

One recent event sticks out however - the Boscastle flood of 16th August 2004.

It is always easy to judge the seriousness of such events as they are marked by the entire weeks local news being delivered in "outside broadcast" form with presenters in anoraks.

Boscastle Floods
The village was devastated by floods in 2004

Boscastle was the event of that summer.

What is remarkable about the Boscastle flood is that not one life was lost, although much devastation was wreaked.

What is remarkable from a meteorological point of view was that the storm was, in many ways, unremarkable.

Conditions were ripe for the development of the kind of sharp showers we get all the time in summer and make you dash back to your car or head for the nearest pub or pasty shop.

Normally these storms pass rapidly overhead lingering just long enough to just penetrate through to the inner tent.

The Boscastle storm just stuck there however, delivering its rain in the same place for around four hours. Hanging there at the top of the valley, there was only one way for all the rain to go - down the valley and out into the sea.

The direction of the winds produced a kind of perpetual-motion storm that continually replenished itself rather than raining itself out or simply moving on.

Was the flood forecast-able? With the prediction models available at the time, probably not.

But recent research has shown that, with bigger computers and better forecast models, it might have been.

Next time we might not be so lucky, but at least we could be forewarned.

The Mild and Wild West

Meanwhile in west Cornwall the weather can go from mild to wild in just a few miles.

BBC Spotlight's David Braine has been for a look around this beautiful part of the county.

Click on the link below to read our feature and watch David's film.

Learn more about the South West's weather in a special 30-minute programme at 7.30pm on BBC1 on Monday 20 September 2010.

Wettest dayWettest Day 203 mm on 8th June 1957 at Camelford
Windiest dayWindiest Day 118 mphGwennap Head on 15th December 1979
Sunniest monthSunniest Month 381.7 HoursJune 1925 at Pendennis Point

Wild Weather: West Cornwall
20 Sep 10 |  People & Places

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific