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There's been a great deal of publicity about the recent flooding, but what it mostly boils down to is "Several rivers overflow - quite a few people inconvenienced". To put things in perspective
 
In AD48 the Thames flooded and 10,000 people drowned. Two years later the winter was so severe that "all rivers and lakes" were frozen from November until the following April. In 107 it rained heavily for nine months, the crops failed, naturally enough, and there was famine.
 
In 134 there was another severe winter and the Thames froze for two months, but just five years later a drought was so severe that the Thames actually dried up for two days. In 214 the River Trent overflowed and flooded the land for twenty miles either side.
 
In 679 "St.Wilfred's Drought" caused widespread famine the effects of which continued to be felt for the next three years. In 800 a great westerly gale blew that, according to contemporary accounts, "destroyed cities". In 944 another gale blew throughout the country and destroyed 1,500 houses in London alone. In 1035 there was widespread frost on Midsummer's Day that killed the crops standing in the fields (mind you, a hundred years before in Germany, they didn't get the crops in because it was so hot that reapers dropped dead in the fields).
 
England was hit by earthquakes in 1067, 1081, 1089, 1120, 1133, 1180, 1185 and 1193. However the following century it was back to floods again, in 1233, 1236 (twice), 1250, 1258, 1277 and 1287. Mind you, in 1231 it didn't rain from March until October.
 
The 1300s were fairly quiet, but in 1407 there was frost for 25 weeks, in 1473 and 1478 the summers were so hot that farm-workers died in the fields, and in 1480 there was an earthquake, and another in 1508. In general the 1500s were marked by severe winters, while in 1527 it rained every day from April 12th until June 3rd. 1540 and 1541 were the hottest summers for 500 years.
 
In the early 1600s there were many severe winters - on May Day 1627 snow fell 2 feet deep all over Derbyshire. In 1684 the sea froze over from Dover to Calais.
 
More recently, many of us are old enough to remember the Great Storm of 1987, but there were similar events in 1703 when up to 15,000 sailors lost their lives, in 1713, in 1861 when up to 200 ships were wrecked off the North East coast, in 1897, in 1901 when 46 ships were lost between Berwick and the Tees with the deaths of 200 sailors, in 1908, 1943 and 1953.
 
Hardly surprising, then, that the English are so obsessed with the weather. And all this took place before we'd invented Global Warming.
 
If you'd like to read more about extreme historical extreme weather, click here.
 

 
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