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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Thousands Dead following floods in Somerset and South Wales

Last Saturday afternoon I drove over the Severn Bridge to the Caerleon campus of the University of Wales to a Forum to discuss the possible causes of the disastrous flood which occurred 400 years ago today on both the Welsh and Somerset shores of the Bristol Channel. 2,000 people were reported drowned in that event and it is considered pertinent to consider the possibilities that such an event could happen again with even more loss and damage.
Organised by Bath Spa University Department of Science and the Environment, detailed historical and geological evidence was presented. A most lively debate ensued as to whether the cause was a storm surge aligned to winds and a high spring tide, or alternatively by a tsunami following a landslip off the South West coast of Ireland or even further away. These matters have been presented before but this event was timed to coincide with today’s anniversary. A packed lecture theatre of interested people had very good value from the experts speaking for and against the two propositions. A majority at the end of the debate favoured a storm surge over a tsunami. Whatever it was, it may happen again and the Somerset and Newport Levels remain vulnerable in the future.

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