History lesson

Before today I’d been unaware of the Bristol Channel flood of 1607, but now having learned about it I’m eager to read more.

Credit risk modelling firm Risk Management Solutions Inc. for making me aware of the 17th Century catastrophe through news of a report the firm has prepared suggesting that a repeat of the 1607 event would be the U.K.’s costliest natural disaster, producing losses that could exceed $25 billion.

While some contend the flooding that occured on Jan. 30, 1607 in southwest England and south Wales was the result of a tsunami, RMS said research shows the event was the result of a combination of persistent gale force winds, low atmospheric pressure and exceptionally high tides. As many as 2,000 people died in the 1607 catastrophe, and RMS said the hardest hit areas from a similar event today would include the cities of Bristol and Gloucester in England and Cardiff in Wales.

According to Robert Muir-Wood, chief research officer at RMS, who is presenting his firm’s research on the flood at a conference in England Saturday focusing on the event, while the risk of a repeat of the 1607 flood is relatively low, it’s not negligible. The modelling firm’s research suggests such a comparable event could occur every 500 to 1,000 years, on average.

RMS also noted that  the tide was particularly high on Jan. 30, 1607 because tidal forces were at their most extreme, with the sun and moon both overhead at the equator and the moon at its closest point to Earth. Such extreme tidal forces are expected to occur every four-and-a-half years–with the conditions next being right this March 20.  

  

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