Sunday 10 October 2010

More On The Weather

Hurricane Otto is forecast today to veer in the direction of Spain and Portugal robbing of me my dream of boating on The Strand. There are other weather matters to think about in the meantime.

“Nobody thinks of winter when the grass is green” is a quote by Rudyard Kipling via the net. During the spells of warm weather at the present and with all the debates over other matters, some serious, not many people are thinking ahead.

But, one report in the newspapers is about councils issuing spades to house owners who in the event of snow or ice should clear their own streets and footpaths.

There has been a claim, not much noticed, that we could be in for a hard winter this year. This is from an independent weather organisation, our taxpayer’s Met Office having given up long term public forecasts because of the public’s unwillingness to accept complexity or variability in weather systems.

Personally, it is anybody’s guess as far as I am concerned just how good, bad, wet, windy, cold, mild, icy, foggy, it might be. What I am more concerned about is heating and power supplies if the temperature does drop down to give a period of chill and frost.

I am not talking about anything as bad as some of the winters I have seen in the past, just one with a longish and inconvenient cold spell perhaps with snow but at least with ice and frost around for a while..

Because the UK is importing a good deal of Natural Gas and consumption is exceeding our own production more and more year on year there is a growing deficit. The result is that last winter, it is said, warnings were given by suppliers to commercial users to curtail use to preserve domestic and other power supplies.

This tightness of supply was little reported and for some reason the government departments of energy and the environment did not register any public reactions.

In other words the UK is closer to the margins where either locally or generally the supplies may not be adequate enough to keep the power on. If there is a longer and/or harder spell of cold weather, and again I am not suggesting anything really severe, then we are talking about potential disruption that will be protracted and more damaging.

Power outages of this kind may have been one thing in an age when it was routine to carry larger stocks, especially in winter and when systems were far more localised, flexible and resilient. What could happen now in our highly interdependent, computer driven systems mostly on a just in time basis?

In the USA apparently some pessimist has been pointing out that in their major urban areas there are only five days supply of food in stock or immediate transit. They too like the UK have had a major deficit in energy policy and the renewal of supply sources and infrastructure.

My problem now is where to put all the sacks of potatoes.


  1. OR forecasts a similar winter to last year. The food and energy supplies will be stretched as ever greater demand is imported!

  2. I share your disappointment - I too was looking forward to the Parliament Square Regatta.

    I imagine the head boffins at the Met office are sitting with their arms folded and possibly even pouting slightly; 'you didn't take us seriously so we're not saying anything now'.

    Meanwhile I agree that we're only ever a few days from a surreal diet based on whatever was left in the local co-op, as we found out during the fuel protests. It's a straightforward choice - get in a stockpile or be prepared for tomato soup with sponge fingers.