Many of you are going to wake up this morning to the shocking realisation that you no longer live in Wiltshire. That’s right, you didn’t misread what I had written, you don’t live in Wiltshire anymore. At least, that is what the Environment Agency claimed in a recent update of the Flood Alert alert for this area. It seems that Winterbourne Stoke is now in West Dorset and you’d expect a government agency charged with looking after the environment to be a leading authority on such things; wouldn’t you? This is what they said:
Groundwater flooding in the Salisbury Plain area
Flooding is possible – be prepared
Groundwater levels in West Dorset are set to rise further over the next few days, bringing a risk of flooding to minor roads especially in the Upper Avon, Chitterne, Wylye, Till & Bourne valleys. The rate of rise will start to level off next week as a colder drier spell sets in. A combination of flood water and icy conditions will make roads especially treacherous. Pumping equipment and property level protection measures should be set out where available. Take care that pumping during freezing conditions does not pose a risk to the public. Only pump when necessary. Consider obtaining supplies of rock salt to prevent ice forming around discharge areas. Warmer, wetter weather is expected to return from the 12th February which will cause groundwater levels to resume their upward trend. Environment Agency staff will continue to monitor the situation and will update this message on Wednesday 10th February or sooner if the situation changes.
This information was last updated at 4:22pm Friday 5 February 2021
The serious message, of course, is that the borehole level has risen throughout the week, but is beginning to slow. As we are less than a metre from the point we would expect the Tilshead borehole to break above ground and springs to start breaking in odd places around the village, it’s time for those most likely to be affected to prepare; if they haven’t done so already. The borehole level is now 5 metres AOD above the 7 year average and about 15 metres above the level in the driest winter over the last 7 years.
This morning is the coldest I have experienced for quite a while. The arctic blast coming in from the north-east fairly takes your breath away as you walk back to the village from Berwick St James. We may get a little precipitation later on in the day, but nothing like the blizzards they are going to experience to our east. Then again, we are on the edge of Salisbury Plain and the weather can often do odd things when it comes to snow.
We may get a few more snow showers from Tuesday onwards, but the main feature of the weather is going to be the cold. There is likely to be even more wet weather towards the end of the month but at this stage, toss a coin for rain or snow. The threat of more snow will persist into early March each time the normal south-westerly airflow switches to a north-easterly. As they say in Dorset: “There’s going to be a lot of overclap and we may all bibber yet!”