Climate Change

Extreme Weather Study

The purpose of the Extreme Weather Study is to highlight the types of extreme weather events that have affected the Isle of Wight, and how these have impacted on IW Council services, in order to inform an Adaptation Plan. The purpose of the plan is 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 IW County Press and the IW Council’s Press Office was undertaken, focusing on a five year period, 2004-2009. From this research a database was compiled, listing 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
• Identify critical thresholds
• Inform adaptation agenda

A note on costs

There is currently no specific recording of costs relating to weather events. Therefore many costs go unrecorded as they are absorbed into general categories such as staff overtime or road maintenance.

The financial costs that it was possible to gather are recorded at the end of the report, but these are obviously only a small percentage of the true costs.

Summary

•The majority of events recorded involved heavy rain/flooding, and invariably required the greatest input from Highways, in terms of people-hours and cost.

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

•Snow, although less frequent and severe on the Isle of Wight, does have costly implications, and creates disruption to services and daily activities such as people being able to reach workplaces, schools, etc. Obviously financial costs arise from maintaining safe and accessible roads, with the use of gritters and salt. For instance, the winter of 2009 (with snow in February) cost an additional £59,000 for clearing and gritting roads.

Identified costs

As yet costs associated with weather are not recorded in a systematic way. Below are the costs that have been collated so far going back to 2000.

The harsh winter of 2008/09 meant the Highways Department had to spend £120,000 more than normal on road repairs (including pothole repairs). Also above normal expenditure was £59,000 for winter maintenance, including snow clearing and gritters.

•Storm damage 2008/09 = £42,000

•Approx £20000 to deal with fallen trees/branches in the November 2009 storm.

•East Cowes Childrens’ centre suffered damage in the Nov 09 storm but the cost of this fell within the contractors’ insurance.

•Rain and snow in February 2009 led to 49 pothole insurance claims made over that 28 day period - almost twice the average. A total of £9,435.40 has been paid to date on 37 of the claims (at the time of this report 12 claims still active).

•2000/01 flooding – although outside of the 5 year period focused on here, the cost implications for the United Kingdom were considerable. The Isle of Wight Council applied for Bellwin funding (“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”) for £785,408. Not included as eligible was a threshold amount of £254,000, plus an additional amount of £938000.

•Again outside of the 5 year period focused on in this document, but the heatwave of 2003 led to a cost of £1.2 million due to road damage caused by clay shrinkage. Roads in the northern, clay section of the Island were affected.

•Following the cliff fall behind Shanklin Beach Hotel in March 2001, Social Housing had to find alternative accommodation for about 150, mainly elderly, visitors late at night.

Click here for the Extreme Weather Database 2010