SCHOOLS were damaged, houses flooded and sodden and broken- down cars abandoned under bridges, as two months of rain fell in 90 minutes at the weekend.
A few days on, the clean-up is still under way on Canvey, with the library shut and schools and residents counting the cost.
It’s the second time in less than a year south Essex has suffered badly from flash floods. Last August, roads resembled rivers as torrential rainfall caused severe flooding.
And here’s the really bad news: Tom Defty, of the Essex Weather Centre, is warning we can only expect more of the same, thanks to global warming – a phenomenon he says can no longer be denied.
Mr Defty said: “When you realise two months of rain fell on Canvey in 90minutes, it’s no wonder it flooded so quickly.
“Exactly the same thing happened last August. People keep asking me ‘why does this keep happening to us?’. It’s a strange one.
“Sea temperatures are a lot higher and this is something that may happen more in future, thanks to climate change. It is now 95 per cent certain we’re seeing the effects of climate change. It’s no longer some far off issue. It’s happening.
“When sea temperatures rise, as they are at the moment, we get a lot more snow in the winter and a lot more moisture in the summer which causes thunderstorms.
“The effect of the Thames Estuary means Essex is seeing a lot of thunderstorms, as it prevents storms from moving on, and keeps them in one area for a much longer period.
“That’s what happened on Sunday. It’s why Canvey, Southend and up to Battlesbridge got so much of it.”
The reason for this, says Mr Defty, is that estuary is fed with cold rainwater which falls inland. As it hits warmer estuary water near Canvey, it makes the air moister and keeps any storms produced over the surrounding area for longer.
Mr Defty said this meant we could expect even more storms –maybe as soon as this August, if we have another warm month. He added: “The temperature this week is going to continue to rise and build again.
“We will see thunderstorms hit us again this weekend, but they won’t be like what we saw last weekend.
“As we go through August the forecast is pretty good, certainly above average temperatures again. It wouldn’t surprise me if we get more thunderstorms next month and more rain.”
As well as the torrential downpour, lightning has been more frequent in recent weeks.
Again, this is down to rising temperatures.
Last Friday night, Essex witnessed a “super lightning storm” – several storms happening all at once.
Mr Defty said while more thunder and lightning was to be expected it was unlikely we would see a storm of that magnitude again this summer.
He explained: “What we witnessed on Friday is rare.
“It only happens every five to ten years in Essex.
“I know a lot of people have been saying there’s been one every day. Lightning storms have been happening frequently at the moment but these are not the same thing. I would think we’ll be very unlikely to see another of those any time soon.”