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The Great Storm in Windsor, October 2000

October 30th 2000 and the wind and the rains came!

Flooded Car Park Windsor Great Park

An area set aside for car parking in Windsor Great Park turns into a lake.

Long Walk LS

The Long Walk in the distance looks more like a river with
widespread standing water in the fields.

The night of October 29-30th, Sunday/Monday night, weather forecasters predicted major winds and rain across the whole of the UK, perhaps as serious as October 1987. So it was that the south coast took a battering from reported gusts up to 90mph coupled with heavy rain. It was only two weeks ago that Lewes and other towns and villages in Kent and Sussex had suffered major flooding of the town centres and radio reports today warn that the same might happen again with water levels rising by as much as 4 metres. The high tide, arriving at midday today prevents the swollen rivers from flowing to the sea and so the torrent backs up and inundates any low lying land.
As I write, radio reports describe fallen trees on roads and rivers (adding to the flood risk) with some deaths and injuries. Heathrow Airport is badly affected although some flights are arriving and departing. At 8.00am this morning the BBC broadcast a long list of stations closed and train services that were severely disrupted. The impression given was that almost no trains were running in the south of England! This followed a weekend of disruption caused by Railtrack's decision to organise some 20,000 track repair engineers to blitz the repair of suspect track following the train derailment at Hatfield due to a broken rail.
It has to be reported that Windsor has not suffered nearly as badly as in October 1987, or January 1990 for that matter which was similar, but affecting a much larger area of the country.
In 1987, trees were blown down in Alma Road, Alexandra Gardens and other parts of Windsor and the Great Park. This storm will be the subject of a future story on The Royal Windsor Web Site.
Windsor has not suffered as badly as we could have. All roads within the town remain clear although gulleys blocked by leaves result in flooded footpaths. Fallen leaves are a major problem in that the wet autumn generally seems to have kept the trees in leaf for longer than normal. Despite a report to the contrary on London's local radio, concerning a felled tree in Sheet Street, no such problems were seen during this writer's drive around the town. On the Round Tower of Windsor Castle, the smallest flag possible was flying, the Storm Jack, looking for all the world like a postage stamp fluttering from the giant flag pole!

horse chestnut
Even after the storm of last night leaves remain on this
horse chestnut in Alma Road.

 It remains to be seen to what extent the river will rise as waters from the upper reaches arrive in this area. Whilst it is unlikely that levels will rise to a serious level, a similar situation now exists whereby land no longer able to absorb excess rainfall will immediately run off into the river valley. In 1947 the cause of the floods was frost and frozen ground. Today the same effect exists through waterlogged ground. Extended rain, such as has been hinted at by the forecasters along the length of the valley could just tip the balance and raise the water level such that residential areas are once again affected though it should be stressed that phenomenal amounts of rain would be required to cause major havoc...

Further reading

The Thames at Windsor - November 2000

The Great Park - General Information

The Freak Rain Storm of August 1999

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