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Britain's Most Extreme Weather

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Weatherman Alex Beresford investigates why Britain's recent weather has been so severe and asks if we're facing the worst weather ever

About the Show

Weatherman Alex Beresford investigates why Britain's recent weather has been so severe and asks if we're facing the worst weather ever

Series 1 Summary

Is the UK due for the worst weather in recorded history? Weatherman Alex Beresford investigates.

  • Episode 1 - Storms

    Alex Beresford examines whether we can expect a stormier future.

    Moving personal accounts and astonishing footage from smart phones and cameras combine to tell the story of Britain's stormy past, including the tidal surges that flooded North Sea coasts and the hurricane force winds that battered western shores.

    The programme also looks back at the most destructive storm in UK history: the Great Storm of 1703 that killed over 8000 people and destroyed a fifth of the Royal Navy.

    Could patterns in the past reveal clues about the future of Britain's weather?

  • Episode 2 - Ice

    Are our winters going to get even colder? To find out, Alex Beresford explores the historical evidence and the latest research.

    A combination of first-hand testimonies and astonishing homemade footage reveal the dangers of our recent cold snaps.

    Alex discovers how freezing weather can shut down the transport network, kill livestock and present hazards to anyone caught out in the cold. He experiences the dangers of freezing winds when he endures a wind chill that takes temperatures down to minus 50.

    Alex examines the severe winter of 1962/ 63: the coldest in over 200 years, when Britain was hit by temperatures below minus 20, and 80mph winds. The snow lay on the ground for a record-breaking 62 consecutive days and January 1963 was the single coldest month of the 20th century.

    Travelling further back in time, he examines the Little Ice Age, when temperatures were colder for hundreds of years. Could such an extended period of cold weather happen again? If so, how soon could it affect Britain?

  • Episode 3 - Floods

    Should we be preparing for more flooding like in early 2014? This episode examines the scientific and historical evidence, as well as using personal testimony and smartphone and camera footage to tell the story of the floods.

    Alex discovers how dangerous it is to be caught in a flash flood and searches through the history books for great floods of the past to see if they can provide clues to future rainfall patterns and flooding.

    The programme looks at the extraordinary flooding in Manchester 1872, when coffins were exhumed by rain. In Worcester in 1770 flood levels reached 15 and a half metres: a record that stands to this day.

    With the Thames and the Severn bursting their banks in 2014's storms, is Britain any more prepared for flooding now than it was in the past?

    The programme reveals research demonstrating that floods tend to occur in groups called flood clusters.

    With the added complication of climate change, many scientists now believe we are heading towards a much wetter future with heavier rainfall.

  • Episode 4 - Heat

    Is Britain now hotter than ever? Alex Beresford examines the science and the history of our weather to find out.

    Alex learns about the dangers of heatwaves, when extreme hot weather can shut down transport, damage crops and give people heat exhaustion. He experiences the dangers of rising temperatures when he endures a simulated heatwave.

    The programme examines the severe heatwave of 2003, which killed around 2000 people in Britain, when temperatures hit 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the South East.

    Alex also examines the famous heatwave of 1976, when two months of prolonged warm temperatures caused a severe drought, and the Edwardian heatwave of 1911, which lasted nearly three months.

    The Earth's position relative to the sun also makes temperatures go up or down. Alex investigates how the planet's alignment changes over time in a series of orbital cycles called Milankovitch Cycles. When the cycles align the planet can be plunged into an ice age; another one should arrive in around 1500 years.

    But right now, a different factor is affecting our temperatures: CO2 emissions. Could hot deadly summers like 2003 soon become the norm in Britain?

Britain's Most Extreme Weather synopsis

Weatherman Alex Beresford investigates why Britain's recent weather has been so severe and asks if we're facing the worst weather ever

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