A British weather tradition is the "equinoctal gale," with winds of hurricane force, sideways rain, and other frightening phenomena, which occurs around the spring and fall equinoxes. I could tell you horrific stories about running search and rescue operations in weather that might occasionally pick you off your feet and deposit you tens of feet away from the start point. Our system was, to train for the worst, and so we regularly found ourselves hiking and navigating in such weather. At times you would literally have to crawl across the ground.
The question might be, is climate change making them worse?
This is as good a starting point as any for our discussion of climate change in EII today.
Meanwhile, have some empathy for the underpaid, understaffed UK emergency services personnel, particularly as the conservative government has cut the number of positions and hours.
In my editorial this year for my ex-servicemans' journal, I railed against the cuts, which will privatize our famed Sea King emergency helicopter squadrons. I suggested, rather sourly, that the best justice might be, if the next extreme weather event were to hit square on the small Oxfordshire town of Chipping Norton, home to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and many of the United Kingdom's new international uber-elite.
Looks like I may have been prophetic, because that's exactly what has happened. The results are not in yet, but I can state that the today's weather report for that spot includes a wind speed "amber" warning, with gusts slated to top out at 45 miles an hour, more than enough to fell trees, knock out power, and prevent vehicle travel.
(To be honest, I was hoping for a slightly stronger message. But give it time. And yes, British towns do seriously have names like Chipping Norton and Scratchy Bottom! It's a long story.)