The recent run of warm weather has encouraged more people to get out into the countryside and other popular tourist resorts to enjoy the sunshine. But while we may be enjoying the prolonged summer there are various side effects to be aware of, including potential consequences for flooding.
We have seen gritters out on the roads spreading sand to try to shield the road from the heat, as the bitumen has melted in temperatures of 30+ degrees. Fields and moorlands have dried out so much that 2018 has seen record numbers of wild fires around the UK, with the fire brigade being called out over 100 times to wild fires in Merseyside alone. Staff had to be evacuated from the Winter Hill telecommunications site on the hills around Greater Manchester as two wild fires converged and burned for over 10 days. Cumbria has also seen numerous grass fires. The warm weather has dried out and compacted soils which could mean that in the event of storms and heavy rain, surface water would not easily be absorbed into the ground, increasing the likelihood of flash flooding.
Moorland fire at Winter Hill
There have also been fires on the sand dunes at Ainsdale Beach, Sefton and at St Annes on the Fylde Coast with 30% of the dunes, which provide habitat for many species of plants and wildlife, being destroyed. The grasslands at these coastal tourist destinations not only support wildlife, but the matted root systems of the plants which live there knit together and stabilize the sand, helping to create the dunes. These form natural barriers which are vital in protecting seaside towns from the effects of high tides and storm surges, also helping to reduce the likelihood and impact of coastal flooding.