“Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink,” sprang to mind as I chatted to the landlord after the Christmas and New Year dust had finally settled. The line from Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner seemed apt as we discussed the pubs and restaurants in the local market town that had suffered flooding over the holiday period. Several were forced to close for a week or more, cancelling parties and losing thousands of pounds in takings at what should have been their busiest time of the year.
The soggy aftermath left huge mopping up and redecorating operations to be undertaken, not to mention a large pike wedged between railings half-way along the high street.
It seemed fitting that there should be so much weather coverage in the news as the BBC celebrated the 60th anniversary of its first televised weather forecast. Needless to say, that gave producers the perfect oppportunity to rerun Michael Fish’s infamous denial that there was a hurricane coming, hours before the great storm of 1987. Technically, of course, he was right, as hurricanes are tropical storms, but such nit-picking cut no ice with those like me who lost half a roof back in 1987.
More recently, the Met Office has doubtless kept its weather eye on the other side of the pond, fearful that what happens in America usually turns up here later. The US cold snap, blamed on a ‘polar vortex’, saw temperature records smashed, with the bizarrely-named town of Embarrass, in Minnesota, plunging to -37 degrees C.
It was ‘only’ -17 degrees C in Michigan, but that was quite chilly enough for the equally oddly-named small town of Hell to freeze over.
Meanwhile, in Kentucky, an escaped prisoner turned himself in, just to get out of the cold.