August: damaging floods and less sunshine than February!
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I don't know
whether to start this blog-entry with this:
The latter being the view from my front door on many days in August and
early September. Of the former (a significant flash-flooding event),
more further down the page.
August 2008 will go down in the records as very wet, very un-sunny
(dullest since 1929) and, quite frankly, downright depressing as a
consequence. As a consequence, there is cloud and rain in most of these
images. Rather a lot of it in fact.
On August 17th, I went on an organised field-trip to a quarry at
Llansawel, between Lampeter and Llandeilo. These are no particularly
fast routes from Machynlleth to that area, but plenty of shortcuts
which I use frequently, one being the Nant-y-moch mountain road from
Talybont to Ponterwyd. Bad move on this occasion as the heavens
proverbially opened. This was the view in Cwm Ceulan above Talybont at
0800 on the morning in question:
By a miracle, despite having to drive up rivers like that, the
rendezvous was made in time and the field-trip was a success. On the
way back I took another route, up past the Llyn Briane dam, with its
spectacular overflow spillway.....
Sometime during this period, here is a shot of the Ystwyth raging
across the harbour at Aberystwyth.
Rapids are not included in the usual list of hazards to shipping here!
September arrived and the
weather really cranked up a notch. On the 2nd, photogenic convective
weather resulted in a few trips out to intercept various storm-cells,
starting with this one just after sunrise at Ynyslas:
....with a return visit in
the early afternoon to watch this storm and the one following it drift
But once again it was torrential rain that featured most heavily. This
is near Aberhosan on the afternoon of the 2nd:
...while this was the final visit to Borth of the day. The beach is
normally still fairly busy with visitors at this time of year. Not so
on this occasion!
On the evening of September 3rd,
fizzling-out former thunderstorms drifted over Machynlleth at dusk,
giving a spectacular display of mammatus to anybody who happened to be
looking up (by now not many people as the risk of being hit in the eye
by a large raindrop was becoming increasingly familiar)...
|An omen of things to come?? Maybe...
4th-5th 2008 will go down as an exceptionally wet 48 hours. Here's Dyfi
Bridge on the 4th - with the river very close to topping its banks...
....whilst the falls at Furnace were on good form:
But the real story from this period unfolded very quickly indeed in a
remote area to the north-west of Brecon. Here lies Mynydd Eppynt, home
to extensive Army ranges, and beneath its drab, target-bedecked slopes,
there lie gentle wooded valleys with scattered small villages amongst
the farm pastures. This was the backdrop to a devastating flash-flood
that came up in less than an hour. Two key rivers were affected - the
especially, Afon Ysgirfawr, which flows down past the villages of
Merthyr Cynog, Pontfaen, Battle and Aberysgir before joining the Usk as
it flows down though Brecon. Here is a bridge between Merthyr Cynog and
Afon Ysgirfawr has simply gone round the
bridge and has torn the road away on its eastern side. Note the
flood-borne grass trapped in the mesh fence on the R.
Meanwhile, in Pontfaen, the damage was worse still:
almost wholly demolished, tarmac ripped away and (out of view in
this image) riverside houses badly flooded. I met the owner of the one
nearest the bridge: the house had been done up and the job only
completed weeks ago: now it was full of silt, mud, rocks and had a
flood tidemark 3-4ft above floor level. I've been flooded myself once
and I know how depressing it is, but to finish such a project then see
it all ruined in just weeks is something that words cannot express
The reason for my visit to these catchments was to investigate this
extreme rainfall event on behalf of TORRO (the Tornado and Storm
Research Organisation). It appears that 116mm (over four and a half
inches) of rain fell over the area between midday and 3pm: much of it
clearly fell before 1330 because that was the approximate peak of the
flood. In the image above, on the lower part of Afon Ysgirfawr, trees
and branches are strewn across the wooded flood-plain.
Flooding was reported widely across the UK on September 5th, but this
localised event was quite exceptional in its ferocity and the
destruction caused. Elsewhere in the catchment, there were small
landslides, roads and gateways gullied deeply, rocks and gravel
deposited feet deep on roads and debris generally strewn about. The
clean-up and repairs will take some time to undertake and the scars
from this flood will last for several years.
About the best news from this period was being asked to cut up and
remove a fallen ash-tree for someone, neatly solving the question of
where the winter firewood was coming from. There's enough in this pile
to do a cold winter, and if it's anything like recent ones, there's
enough for two winters!
after a dismal summer, the kids have gone back to school and almost
immediately (typical, eh?) the weather has improved with a large
anticyclone sitting over the UK and warm sunny days, mackerel being
caught off the beaches and everything is gradually drying out. For the
people who live along the Ysgirfawr catchment, it has come not a moment
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