|Blue sky makes all the difference|
The sky was blue today after yet another storm hit the UK. This was the 9th storm this winter which is more than the average.
Storms in the UK are certainly not international news, no twisters or snowmaggedons. Just rather dull and continuous rain, accompanied by howling winds. There hasn't even been thunder and lightening to add some excitement. Some areas have experienced flooding or downed power lines, yet it is theunusual pattern of weather that makes it news-worthy for me.
|Very wet and muddy dog walks|
It is an El Nino year, which has spread a mixed bag of extreme weather across the world. Even so, I can't just shrug it off and expect next year to be 'normal' again. Have we had a 'normal' year in the last decade? A year when rainfall or temperature records haven't been broken?
|I wish rainbows were the only thing coming from this coal-fired power station.|
The climate change predictions for the UK (that I read a good few years ago now), indicated that winters would be milder and wetter, with much less frequency of snow. Summers would also be milder and wetter, except for in the Southeast. This describes 2015 pretty well. Last summer was warm, but can anybody remember a day that was actually hot, like sunbathing-on-the-beach hot? We kept wondering when summer would start. And this winter has been exceptionally mild so far, though very wet and stormy.
Are we moving to a 'season-less' climate in the UK, with far less definition between spring and summer or autumn and winter? That is not to say that every year will be like that, just that a trend may be emerging. I mean we can't expect to ignore all the danger signs about climate change and not have to face the consequences.
|Lovely traditional stone terraced housing|
The good news is that buildings in the UK are built to withstand this kind of weather, at least most of the dwellings are. The majority of dwellings are built of brick or stone, and feel solid and secure whilst the wind is howling round them. The style is for low-rise, compact and often terraced dwellings. Even hurricane strength winds only result in a few chimney pots being toppled, trees falling and power lines being damaged. Watch the scenes in other areas of the world and whole streets of homes get reduced to matchsticks.
|Old brick built factory still looking amazing|
This is also why we have some of the oldest housing stock - brick houses are expensive and slow to build (compared to timber) and as they last well and are expensive to replace, we keep them. Even more so with stone dwellings. My friend's cottage is over 300 years old, and the thick stone walls would have taken an enormous amount of energy to demolish.
|Any excuse for more nice photos|
Now I know that old houses get a bad name for not being energy efficient, but that is not entirely true. They tend to be small, so have less volume to heat, and if they are terraced they reduce heat loss by having less external wall area. Houses were built with good natural light in all rooms, before we had electricity and had a cellar and a pantry instead of a fridge or freezer.
That is not to say that older buildings don't feel cold and draughty, but it is worth bearing in mind that a new efficient double-glazed window provides no more insulation than an old solid brick wall. Modern buildings with vast glazed areas are really not a great idea if you wish to reduce your heating bills. You will find that there is more focus on building houses airtight these days, to reduce unwanted draughts, and adding additional insulation to any building will always improve the thermal comfort and efficiency.
|Survived since 1483|
Other bloggers have noticed changes in their weather patterns too, sometimes major scary events like the forest fires and drought in Tasmania that Jo mentioned, or even small signs of change such as still picking raspberries in November as Mrs Thrift noted. I would love to hear of any changes that you may have noticed, wherever you are. It may be plants flowering earlier or areas flooding that have never been flooded before. It all helps to build up a picture of how the climate is changing and prepare us for what might come next.