My Summer - Emergency Planning and Resilience Consultant, Steve Daly
Steve Daly is an Emergency Planning and Resilience Consultant with Essex County Council.
We have a team of ten, responsible for emergency planning and business resilience for Essex County Council. I have been a member of the team since 2005, having previously been a police officer for 30 years, including 15 years with responsibility for police training and emergency planning at London Stansted Airport.
Late spring and early summer 2020 will go down in history as a spring/summer like no other. For years to come it will be remembered and recalled, both historically and meteorologically – a bit like the summer of 1944 when weather forecasting played a vital role in the launch of D-Day, which was delayed when Scottish meteorologist, Group Captain James Stagg persuaded Eisenhower to postpone the landings for better weather.
Time and tide wait for no man, as the saying goes, and is very true in working in local authority Emergency Planning, as so much of our weather ties in with the tides and the phases of the Moon and the Sun. In Essex, with 905 kilometres of coastline, the longest in East Anglia and one of the longest in England, we are well aware not only of the impact of tides upon our coast, but of the weather generally upon many of our communities.
Usually, the summer is a more benign season of the year for us. A chance to catch our breath after the winter storms, cold weather, and occasionally some snowfall. Aside from the Spring Tides, the summer usually brings us some respite. Yes, we still have to keep a weather eye on the forecast, and our friends, the Met Office Advisors, are an invaluable assistance in this, but by and large severe weather warnings are few and far between in the summer months.
In my line of work, the weather plays a big part in my day to day role, as we are on the frontline of responding to the extremes of our weather and the impacts it can have upon our communities. Flooding, high winds, heavy snowfall, heatwave, extreme cold – all the sorts of things we plan and prepare for.
Accessing weather info
My go to sources for guidance on the weather are generally the Met Office Hazard Manager website, for a detailed view of the weather and any emerging patterns; while the Met Office app on my phone gives me a quick, but localised overview. My daily routine, while drinking my first cup of coffee of the day, is to listen to the BBC Radio 2 news, but the weather forecast they provide is far too general – I suppose it has to be for the limited time they have to deliver it in. So, I turn to the Met Office app on my phone which usually gives me an accurate hour by hour forecast for the day ahead, wherever I am going to be. Will I need a coat or an umbrella, or is it going to be a day for sunscreen? The app has rarely left me ill-prepared for the day’s weather.
On the weeks when I am our on-call Duty Officer, I will check the weather forecast more frequently, at any time of the year, hoping to get an early heads up on any approaching weather pattern that might spell trouble. A sudden sharp cloudburst in summer can be as devastating as prolonged torrential rain in the winter.
Then along came Coronavirus! All of a sudden, the routine jobs were parked; meetings cancelled, and we swung seamlessly into response mode, but with a difference. For now, we are working from home and coping with all the additional pressures that brings. Trying not to disrupt the rest of the family; can the I.T. cope; new ways of working such as meetings and training conducted remotely via Zoom or Teams; working from the dining room table, or an armchair, or spare bedroom.
Spring/summer 2020 – like no other so far this century. Lockdown happily coincided with some prolonged and some might say, unseasonably warm weather. As I remarked to our Met Office Advisor, he certainly pulled out all the stops weather-wise for us!
Stay safe everyone, have a great, if different summer, and remember…to be #WeatherReady.
Photo credit: Steve Daly