After the Black South Easter and the floods that it brought to Somerset West, the Overberg and the Southern Cape, I’m heading down to Agulhas this weekend and I’m expecting to see the fields looking like this:
The flat nature of the Agulhas Plains (they are plains, after all), means that run off is very slow and they still hadn’t got over the last lot of flooding back in August and September. I know that the roads were underwater over last weekend, but hopefully it’ll be wet around us, rather than all over us today.
This goes out to @StephanieBe who is heading out to the UK shortly and read this morning that… er… the UK is about to face its coldest winter for 100 years. Stephanie is Saffa born and bred. Her genes aren’t cut out to cope with cold Decembers.
Britain will shiver tonight as temperatures plummet in the first taste of what promises to be one of our coldest winters for a century. The cold snap is expected to last until the end of the week, creating dangerous conditions on the roads and adding to the misery of those already battling floods. Temperatures could fall to as low as minus 3C in some places, with snow already falling in the Pennines.
Cold temperatures? In the UK? At the end of November? Whatever next? Let’s have a look at how November ended when I was over in the UK in 2010, shall we?
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 29th November 2010. Is that… snow?!?
But hey, maybe the Daily Mail has upped its weather prediction game since 2010. Let’s have a look at what they thought about 2012, shall we? This Daily Mail headline is from 15th April this year.
Britain faces worst drought since 1976 (and the Severn could dry up by summer)
Officials are concerned that a third dry winter this year could be a tipping point and trigger restrictions for businesses or even further restrictions in homes for the first time in 36 years. The restrictions are embarrassing for the Government which is showcasing Britain during this year’s Olympics and the Queen’s Jubilee. Parks are included in the hosepipe ban and London’s iconic fountains will be turned off.
Sounds bad. So what actually happened?
Well, here’s a photo I took at Howden Reservoir in Derbyshire in July, slap bang in the middle of the “worst drought since 1976”:
Yes yes, I know that the big wall is supposed to keep the water in, but the fact is that because the incessant rain throughout the summer, the dam was overflowing.
What happened? Let’s turn to… er… the Daily Mail for the answer. Here’s a story from August 29th:
After weeks of wet weather and seemingly never-ending cloud, many have dismissed the last few months as a miserable summer they would rather forget. Today was no exception as heavy rains fell across many parts of the country as weather forecasters predict that September will bring some sun and reprieve from the wet weather but only for those in the south. The north of Britain however should brace for more grim weather which is predicted to last until mid-September.
But… but you said that… Oh never mind. At least it wasn’t the wettest summ… oh wait. Yes, it was. Well, that is according to the Daily Mail (31st August) anyway:
The temperatures, which reflect the country’s cold and soggy weather over recent months, have proved this summer has been a complete write-off. It came as it was revealed yesterday the summer has also been the wettest in England and Wales for a century.
The thing is, I know that forecasting the weather is not an exact science. And long range forecasting is even less exact. So yes, you’re going to get it wrong from time to time. But there’s no disclaimer in Stephanie’s “coldest winter for 100 years” Daily Mail story. There’s no:
However, while we’re telling you about how cold it’s going to be this winter, you might want to remember that we also said that this was going to be the driest summer in almost 40 years and we couldn’t actually have been more wrong about that.
So people like Stephanie who have previously lived a Daily Mail free life (lucky fish) thus far, read it – and believe it. Oops.
Stephanie, I’m no meteorological expert. I can’t tell you if it’s going to be the coldest winter foreverever when you visit the Republic of South Yorkshire this December. I feel that I’m standing on fairly solid ground when I suggest that you probably won’t need to pack your bikini for a day out on the beachfront at Filey, but that aside, it’s winter and I would expect it to be decidedly chilly. Especially when compared with your usual South African December day.
What I can tell you is that you really shouldn’t believe everything anything you read in the Daily Mail.
Dangerous animals, including crocodiles, snakes and hippos, have found their way into homes and communities in central Nigeria after devastating flooding, residents say. The creatures were carried along flood-swollen rivers, say the authorities.
Benue state resident Wuese Jirake told the BBC:
“This morning I visited my house. It is still inundated with the flood waters above my waist. There is now a hippopotamus in the house,” he said. “I hope that when it is tired, it may leave my home.”
That seems unlikely, Mr Jirake. Lest we forget, Solly the Limpopo hippo merely died when he got tired. But only after he had comprehensively filled his vicinity with smelly hippo poo. If you want your fat grey friend out once he’s a bit dozy (or dead) then you’re going to need some heavy lifting equipment. Couldn’t you have simply settled for a snake like your neighbours? So much easier to handle.
“If there is any other way of dealing with the problem, the authorities need to pursue that because it is beyond my abilities.”
Conclusive proof, right there, that your average Nigerian doesn’t own a forklift. Assuming that Mr Jirake is an average Nigerian. However, the fact that his home is waist deep in water and currently contains a hippo does rather tend to suggest otherwise.
The co-ordinator of the agency in north-central Nigeria, Abdussalam Muhammad, told the BBC that it was not safe for people to go back to their houses because of the presence of the dangerous animals.
“Presently there are crocodiles and snakes as well as other dangerous animals brought in by the floodwaters that are living in those houses, so, if the people return, it will be harmful to them and they will put their lives at risk,” he said.
It’s this sort of response by the authorities that makes me think I could do their job. Part-time. In fact, part-time, blindfolded and with one hand tied behind my back. Because WHO COULD HAVE GUESSED that returning to a flooded house which is full of crocodiles and snakes could possibly be “harmful” to people?
Seriously, what qualifications does one need for this sort of job? A Diploma in Stating The Bleeding Obvious?
So what exactly does Abdussalam Muhammed suggest might be the best course of action for Mr Jirake et al?
He said people should wait for instructions after the floodwaters have subsided.
It would surely be presumptuous of me to suggest that those instructions might involve something along the lines of: “Now you can return home, as long as there aren’t any dangerous animals in your home, because that might be harmful to you.”
I’m not sure which is worse, having to deal with the hippopotamine excrement in your flooded bedroom or having to deal with the bovine excrement spouted by your local authorities.
With at least eleven people including a police officer currently missing and livelihoods, houses and belongings lost in the floods in Cumbria, Stephen Fry feels that it’s a good time to make a cheap and smutty gag about the worst hit area:
I’m sure this will be lauded by his legion of 1,000,000+ automatons followers as hugely amusing, but I can’t help but feel it’s insensitively-timed, amazingly juvenile and done in rather poor taste. But then, he does have a bit of history in that regard:
Words tumbled from my lips during that interview that were as idiotic, ignorant and offensive as you could imagine. It had all been proceeding along perfectly acceptable lines until I said something like “let’s not forget which side of the border Auschwitz was on.”