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BBC Props Up The “Orrible Drought” Fantasy

April 26, 2012

I had the dubious pleasure of sitting at home yesterday.  Indoors you understand, due to the 17th straight day of rainfall, with yesterday’s being the most persistent yet.

Even today, it has rained heavily for four of the past 7 hours.

Yet, I saw several times on BBC News 24 some BBC journo standing by a reservoir, in the rain just for some added irony, telling me that a bit of heavy rain would not mend the damage of “several very dry years”.

Then we had a rent-an-eco-nut from the Met Office telling the camera how dry it was.

Then we had someone from Anglian Water telling us how they do all they can, but it is just very dry right now.

This nonsense was repeated on the Main BBC 6.30pm news as well.  I think the poor hack had been standing in the rain all day at this reservoir.  He stood by a big lump of old wood and claimed the water is “usually” up to here (about 6 feet above where he was standing.

So let’s look at some simple facts.

Here is the UK annual rainfall, courtesy of the MET:

Now that data only goes up to 2010, but look at the pink trend line.  Level.  Flat. Look carefully at the graph.  Then ask yourself, if this is such a mega-bad drought, how on earth did we survive between 1955 and 1995 when it was consistently lower than it has been since 1995. In fact, look at the rainfall from 1995 – 2010. We have had a LOT of rainfall.


So what about 2011, the “missing link” that the BBC, MET and ANGLIAN WATER all claim was “exceptionally dry” and a lack of rainfall that would “become more frequent due to climate change” (odd how we are also told it will get warmed and wetter …)?

Well, it was actually only “exceptionally dry” in the south east, where rainfall levels did dip to as little as 13% of average (1979-2000 average) for a short period in East Anglia.  But what was the truth of 2011?

Here is a pretty picture for you:

As you can see, despite what we were told, the rainfall levels for most of 2011 were actually 50-70% of normal in England and Wales and in many areas up to 90%.  That is a lot different to “unprecedented low rainfall” as quoted by the MET.

The Alarmist MET, the Alarmist BBC, the Shareholder-Driven Water Companies…..

I urge you to download this report from the Centre For Ecology & Hydrology, co-authored by the MET. It sheds some interesting light on the “drought”. I would especially urge you to read the borehole September averages against actual for September 2011, on Page 8.  I would also draw your attention to the “selected reservoirs” data:

Compare the 2011 October line with the Minimum October data and the years of that minimum.  Are we in a drought that the current rain “will not ease”?  Are the reservoirs at the implied unprecendented low levels we are led to believe by the daily propaganda update from the BBC?  Look at Thames water – London and Farmoor. 80% full, 93% full last October.

This from Thames Water:

“Our London reservoirs were 97 per cent full and our Farmoor Reservoir in Oxfordshire was 100 per cent full on 31 March 2012. “

So, despite the unprecedented drought in the South East, despite the ever increasing population squandering this precious and dwindling (so we are told daily) resource, reservoir levels in our most densly-populated and driest region, went UP 7% to FULL between October 2011 and March 2012.

Yes I know, cherry picking! Nasty, ‘orrible cherry picker of data that fits my message.

Ok, so what about Rutland reservoir.

That  sits right in the middle of the burnt, brown, desert that is Englands drought zone.

Our last check at Rutland Water last week (around 20th April) showed that water levels were at 77 per cent of capacity”

77%.  My god, turn off your hosepipes.  Stop washing your dirty little personal crevices. Let your children run the streets in filthy clothes.


In no human beings universe can that glass be half empty.  It’s actually 77% full.





Thank you commenter “MostlyHarmless” for pointing out my schoolboy typing errors.  I did of course mean to say that the pink line was the average and meant to say that the black line is the trend and it actually goes up.


From → BBC Climate Bias

  1. I’ve posted this on Facebook. Cracking piece of investigative journalism, no wonder the MSM haven’t picked up the story.

  2. Oakwood permalink

    I presume they would claim that reservoirs should normally be full this time of year in order to prepare for summer. But the drought is virtual. There is no drought now, but in the event there is a long dry summer, the reservoirs are not full enough to keep us covered.

  3. Andy permalink

    Thanks for this.
    These ‘inconvenient truths’ about the phantom drought are going to be stuck on the wall of my classroom.
    It’ll be an excellent way of showing the kids that true mathematicians evalute the data rather than listen to the rubbish spouted by the MSM (particularly the BBC and that idiot Black)

    All the best,
    Andy the sceptical maths teacher

  4. You make your point well, and in general I agree, but you say “Now that data only goes up to 2010, but look at the pink trend line. Level. Flat.” The pink line is the 1971-2000 average, which by its nature must be flat.. The trend is shown by the “Smoothed kernel filter”, a type of polynomial smoothing; upward from 1975, levelling off now, which makes the point quite forcibly.

    We’re not seeing drought but political spin – shame about the inconvenient data. Where I live the local paper has made much of the “drought”, and indeed February and March had less rain than I recall is usual. About 4 weeks ago I saw a cross-section of soil down to about 2 metres in a freshly dug pipeline trench. It was dark and moist all the way down from the surface. Spinners omit to mention there’s far less evaporation in winter months.

  5. Richard111 permalink

    Just tracked you here from WUWT. Good reading. Thanks.
    I have bookmarked your site.

  6. Aha I worked out the reason for the strange drought narrative .. turns out what they say applies to one particular SPECIAL TYPE OF RIVER.
    – They are shown the dry River Pang which is spring-fed chalk stream & they are extrapolating that as if it applies to all rivers. I can see what they are doing a little spin to keep people relaxing too much about drought grows like in a game of Chinese whispers to become a big lie. There’s a parallel with their Climate Change talk they’ve been doing the for years.

    – Their script says : “this record rainfall makes no difference to the ‘drought’ since the watertable needs to catchup from 2 years of lower than normal rainfall, this rain just evaporates as the ground is too hard to aborb it, what counts is autumn & early winter rain.” All that is complete BS & can be taken apart bit by bit; for a start the temperature is much lower than normal & it rains at night so that water won’t be evaporating…. So what are they on about ? : AHA I WORKED IT OUT on Tuesday evening on Radio 4 the reporter said !”Here I am at the River Pang , in Berkshire & as we can see it’s still dried up the drought is nowhere near ending. Then I did some background checking … I found that isn’t a typical river … for it all those special conditions the media churn-out apply to it. It’s says stuff like “The River Pang is a chalk stream that starts north of the village, the exact starting … are mainly replenished by rain that falls during the Autumn and early Winter”

    – It also says this “From time to time, residents of Hampstead Norreys express their concern about the River Pang and its uncertain flow pattern, often drying up in the Autumn, sometimes returning early the following year but occasionally staying dry for a year or more. All of this is perfectly natural and no longer seriously affected by extraction.”

    – actually an academic paper says Spring rain does make a difference
    “The water table varies in height throughout the year,
    falling during the summer and autumn months and
    recovering (due to recharge by rainfall) during the winter
    and spring months, with the largest seasonal variations
    observed away from the rivers. In a well at Rockley in
    Wiltshire, the water table varies annually from 2 to 18
    metres below the surface.” .. Look at that truely massive variation during even normal years

    .. BTW Yes it’s easy to show the River Pang dry as it’s a very shallow river it’s only 20cm deep normally & 35cm is considered a flood environments Agencies own graphs for River Pang. River Pang has been Thames Water’s special project for years as it keeps flooding & damaging property… so they have probably been taking steps to keep it low.

    • The Met have a point. I live near Folkstone at the foot of the North Downs scarp face. It’s only in the last couple of days that the winter streams and seeps have started to run wet. A test hole in my veg patch is damp two spits down, more than enough for the veg, so the water is going into the soil, and the drainage ditch to one side has running water in it. As Blackwash says, let’s see the borehole data on May 10.

  7. The problem is that they have exhausted the groundwater as it is easier to process than surface water.

    • Hmm, lets see what the Centre For Ecology & Hydrology April report says on that borehole data. It will be out on 10th May…

  8. Jolly permalink

    I can’t really understand your point here, since the post is full of nonsense.

    Calling an average a trend line was only the start. You also said the rainfall graph only had data up to 2010, despite the fact that the latest data point is very clearly 2011. Perhaps it would suit you better to look at the 2011 figure – it’s actually relatively high, if only because Scotland more than compensated for dryness in England.

    Then you give a map for 2011. Depite several BBC reports talking about two very dry winters, you tell us about “most of 2011” using data for March to September. Then you tell us that 50-70% must be different to “unprecedented low rainfall”, without any indication of what precedent there is. (Obviously there would be more precedents for such figures in a March-September period than for a whole year, and even few for consecutive years.)

    Maybe you’ve got a point about the water storage levels – the “drought” being talked about isn’t just weather but things including demand and how the systems have been managed. Nothing simple on the news can possibly be telling the full story. As a separate matter, though, I’d be really interested in hearing what contractual agreements make it good for water company shareholders to overplay droughts. It doesn’t seem to work like that in other parts of the world.

    • Wow, I don’t think a commenters name has ever been as ironic as yours.

      I am sorry the point of the post went over your head.

      1. I edited the post to account for my error. Perhaps you didn’t get that far down before commenting.

      2. Look at the graph again. What is the last full year of data on it? I will give you a clue, it is not 2011. So in terms of available data from the MET within that range of graphs available to the public it is “missing”. I agree the UK average is upheld by Scotland, and you and anyone else can go to the MET site and look at all the data you want – this is a blog post, which funnily enough encourages you to open your mind by looking at the data yourself. Did you? No of course you didn’t.

      3. The “most of 2011” statement relates to the linked too document, of which the graph is only one part. The precedent, where it has been actually stated in news broadcasts is 13%, but that actually relates only to a small part of Eastern England. My point is that most of England had 50-70% of its average rainfall for the majority of 2011. As I then point out, you can look at the linked too pdf to see that the water levels are not quite as low as the BBC and others lead us to believe in their reporting.

      4. “Maybe you’ve got a point about the water storage levels”. Actually that was the point of the post. Glad you got there in the end.

  9. Hi,

    This is unrelated to your post but I couldn’t see contact details so I hope it’s OK to raise it here. Any idea what’s up with the Cryosphere Today sea ice extent gadget? I’ve been watching the Arctic sea ice extent nudge ever closer to the 1979-2000 average. A few days ago it reached an anomaly figure of -0.173 million sq. kms. and seemed destined to hit the long term average. However, it’s now been stuck on that figure for several days. It may be that the sea ice extent hasn’t changed in that time (unlikely) or it could be that CT has stopped reporting the situation whilst waiting for the start of the melt season when the anomaly will start to increase again, doing away with the need to report that the average was breached.


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