Soft days – a thing of the past?
The frightening scenes in Clifden Co. Galway this week, reminds us of the impact of climate change. Homes were evacuated, schools were closed with unprecedented floods following torrential rain in Clifden.
When looking back at rainfall averages in the west of Ireland, July certainly was above average, but August behaved as normal for the past 4 years. However, we don’t think of averages now when we see events like these. We look at total rainfall in the preceding period and then the very heavy short bursts that cause the damage. So, in terms of climate change, we are seeing changes in weather patterns. As someone said to me recently, we don’t see the “soft days” any more. Instead, the weather forecast for Connaught was of “spells of rain, with heavy falls” of rain in places.
With these changing patterns it is difficult for people to be prepared. Globally, flood risk is on the rise. The bulk of the burden from floods is focused on community-level. Efforts to manage flood risk need to be significantly scaled up. Climate change and ongoing urbanization in flood-prone areas will continue to put more and more communities at risk of more and more extreme flooding. Local and national decision-makers need to take bold steps to help communities take a path towards flood resilience.