Monday 9 October 2023

Rains, Floods, Rivers, Climate Change

River Dee flood plain

The rain began in the evening. For two days it fell steadily. The big rivers rose, spread over flood plains (as they should). Hill burns became torrents, roaring and crashing down. The sky was dark, the hills hidden.

Before the rain

The day the rain started I was camped in a forest not far above the river Dee with my friend Tony Hobbs and his dog Lassie. It was the fourth and last night of a wet and windy trip (I'll tell that story in another post). A pleasantly gurgling burn ran through the trees not far away. After days of wind and rain it was wonderful to sit outside in the calm soothing forest. 

A burn bursts its banks

Then the rain began. Dawn came with a tent dripping with condensation inside and running with water outside. Breakfast inside then pack up, leaving the tent until last, trying to keep everything as dry as possible.

The wet track leads towards the river Dee and Braemar Castle

Knowing heavy rain was forecast we'd already decided to walk out by the shortest low-level route, which was along the track beside the river Dee. At least mostly alongside it as the river had already spread out and sometimes overflowed the track, as did the surging rushing burns in spate as they tore down the hillsides. The water was never too deep or too strong. The next day it could have been. Or even that afternoon. I was glad we hadn't far to go. We didn't linger. The rain ensured that, along with the concern we might meet a difficult ford. I only took a few photos with the phone. The camera stayed in its bag.

Trees in the water on the Dee floodplain

The single track road to Braemar was filling with water in dips but again not too deep for the car. Then the drive home to Grantown-on-Spey was uneventful, just slower than usual on wet roads and, at the Lecht ski resort, in dense fog. Back home drying out gear began. Two days later that's not complete. 

After the storm

The morning after the rain brought drifting mists and occasional sunshine. I wandered down to the river Spey. As expected it was a brown mass of rapid water and had burst its banks in many places. The riverside path was mostly under water, as was a low section of road at one point. In the thirty-four years I've lived here I've never seen the river so high.

Trees in the Spey

The floods are dramatic, frightening, exciting, destructive.They're also worrying when put together with all the other major weather events this year. The effects of climate change are occuring faster than many scientists thought. Action really is needed. 

Excessive rain may not seem a likely result of a warming climate. But it is. As the climate warms it becomes more unstable. The US Environmental Protection Agency says "scientific studies indicate that extreme weather events such as heat waves and large storms are likely to become more frequent or more intense with human-induced climate change". ( We can expect more storms like this.

All the photos below were taken along the river Spey at Grantown-on-Spey, October 9

A road disappearing into the river Spey

Where's the path?


Steps to water

Birches in the Spey

Surging flood water

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