For the less observant of you, it's June, but at least in London and the South-East, you could be forgiven for thinking it's Autumn.Well, not quite, the temperature as I write at 7pm, is 20 degrees Celsius and it's really humid; more like a cooler version what what August used to be like, you know, a week of blazing sun and then a thunderstorm.
I was woken last night by a huge crash of thunder and the storm raged for a few hours. I went to vote and in order to get to my route to work, I had to cross a bridge over a stream and the road over it had flooded. Not a big flood by the standards seen elsewhere to be sure, but locally unusual enough to be noteworthy.
I use the term "bridge", but it's really a box culvert. By that I mean a square/ rectangular shaped concrete tube. This one is about 1.5 metres high and 2.5 metres wide. What is normally a trickling stream was a torrent and the water was higher than the soffit of the culvert (the top underside of the inside of the culvert).
In the photo above, you can see a pipe - this is a utility crossing the stream and it is higher than the soffit of the culvert, but the watrer is lapping around it. The stream level was lower then the road; and the reason for the flood was that the surface water drains couldn't discharge into the stream quickly enough as the wall of flowing water was forcing itself back up the pipes and bubbling out of the gullies and manholes (known as surcharging in the trade).
My journey to work was uneventful other than taking my feet off the pedals to go through a few puddles; although the roads were crawling much more slowly than usual (and they're not normally flowing well in the morning). I got into work and found out about a number of road closures because of flooding and as the day went on, we heard about a few homes being flooded; our drainage engineer and general works crews were out doing what they could, but it was more about checking grilles and culverts were clear than stopping flooding - that cannot be dealt with so easily.
It is hard to be objective about this sort of thing, but the early summer weather has become wetter in recent times and thunderstorms are unusual at this time of year. Are we seeing climate change happening now? Yes, I think so. Do we want to do anything about it? It seems not.
In my area at least, we will have a flurry of news articles, some will criticise the local authority's response to today's events. The reality is our habit of years of paving over front gardens, getting rid of verges for parking and building on back gardens is starting to bite back in terms of urban drainage and surface water management. But, even with some of the huge floods we have seen, they are soon yesterday's news. We are that frog in the water being brought to the boil.