Extreme Weather Events

The increase in the number and severity of extreme weather events are likely to be more dramatic and disruptive than the gradual effects of climate change. Extreme weather events are less easy to predict than things like temperature increase and sea level rise. They are likely to include:

  • Droughts;
  • heatwaves;
  • heavy rain and flooding;
  • high winds;
  • storms.

The Pitt Review.pdf (nationalarchives.gov.uk) was written as a reaction to the floods of 2007. It refers to 2007 as “the wettest summer since records began”. It states that “events of this kind are expected to become more frequent”.

The review says: “To put the events into context, there were over 200 major floods worldwide during 2007, affecting 180 million people. The human cost was more than 8,000 deaths and over £40 billion worth of damage. Even against that dramatic backdrop, the floods that devastated England ranked as the most expensive in the world in 2007”.

The Isle of Wight Strategic Flood Risk Assessment 2010 (PDF, 1MB, 80 pages) shows which areas of the Island are at risk of flooding.

Examples of extreme weather events that affected the UK in recent years.

Year and extreme weather event

Description of impact caused by the extreme weather event

2011 flooding

Travel across the UK disrupted by heavy rainfall and flooding, including Isle of Wight ferry services.

2013 heat wave

Caused up to 760 deaths in England, plus 30 indirect deaths by drowning.

2013 to 2014 winter storms

Several severe storms caused serious coastal damage and persistent flooding.

2018 cold wave ‘Beast from the East’.

17 people died, and £1.2 billion in damages was caused.

2018 drought and heatwave

Summer 2018 was the fifth hottest on record, with minimal rainfall. Some areas saw 54 consecutive days with no rainfall and rainfall was 90% below average between September and November.

2018 wild fires

Wild fires occurred in various areas of the UK, with some fires burning for over a month.

2019 to 2020

2019 to 2020 flooding over much of the country in November.


Isle of Wight Extreme Weather Study (EWS)

In 2011, the council carried out an Extreme Weather Study (EWS). The purpose of the EWS was to highlight the types of extreme weather events that have affected the Isle of Wight. It also showed how these events impacted council services. This informed the Isle of Wight Climate Adaptation Report 2011 (PDF, 1,279KB, 75 pages).

The purpose of the plan are:

  • To ensure council services and infrastructure continue to function.
  • To inform policy.
  • To enable practical measures and identify knowledge gaps.

A media trawl of the Isle of Wight County Press Isle of Wight County Press first for news, sport, information and the Isle of Wight Council’s Media Relations (then called the Press Office) Media Relations - Service Details was undertaken, focusing on 2004 to 2010. From this research a database was compiled.

This listed the date of each event, the type of weather conditions, and the reported consequences. The purpose of this was to:

  • Identify impacts of weather (local media coverage).
  • Understand current vulnerabilities.
  • Estimate associated costs (see the bottom of this page for some information).
  • Identify critical thresholds.
  • Inform adaptation agenda.

Most of the extreme weather events recorded involved heavy rain and/or flooding. These almost all invariably required the greatest input from Highways, in terms of time and cost.

Heatwaves in 2003 and 2007 caused problems nationwide for people’s health, infrastructure (surface melt and clay shrinkage under roads), and water supplies. In the 2003 heatwave, damage to Isle of Wight roads caused by clay shrinkage cost £1.2 million to rectify.

Snow is less frequent and severe on the Isle of Wight, but still has costly implications. It creates disruption to services and daily activities such as people being able to reach workplaces, schools, etc. Financial costs arise from maintaining safe and accessible roads, with the use of gritters and salt. In the winter of 2009, with snow in February it cost an additional £59,000 for clearing and gritting roads.

Download the full Extreme Weather Database 2010 (PDF, 101KB, 9 pages).

Identified costs generated because of extreme weather on the Island

Costs associated with weather on the Isle of Wight have not been recorded in a systematic way.

Below are some of the costs that have been collated from 2000 to 2010:

  • 2000 to 2001 flooding, the cost implications for the United Kingdom were considerable. The Isle of Wight Council applied for Bellwin funding of £785,408. The Bellwin scheme provides emergency financial assistance to local authorities. Assistance under the scheme is usually given as the result of an emergency caused by the weather, but relief may also be available in other circumstances.
  • The cliff fall behind Shanklin Beach Hotel in March 2001 meant Social Housing had to find alternative accommodation for about 150 visitors late at night.
  • The heatwave of 2003 led to a cost of £1.2 million due to road damage caused by clay shrinkage. Roads in the northern section of the Island, which is largely clay, were affected.
  • The harsh winter of 2008-09 meant the Highways Department had to spend £120,000 more than normal on road repairs (including pothole repairs). Above normal expenditure was £59,000 for winter maintenance, including snow clearing and gritters.
  • Storm damage in 2008-09 cost £42,000 to repair
  • Rain and snow in February 2009 led to 49 pothole insurance claims made over that 28-day period. This is almost twice the normal average.
  • Approximately £20,000 to deal with fallen trees/branches in the November 2009 storm.
  • East Cowes Children’s centre suffered damage in the November 2009 storm but the cost of this fell within the contractors’ insurance.