Georgina adds to the growing list of forgettable storms…

How many named storms can you remember? It’s a simple enough question and the scheme has been running for three years now so you should at least remember a couple. I can’t, but then again I’ve a dreadful memory, but you would have thought after writing an analysis on all twenty-three of them as I’ve done, I would have remembered  at least one.

Storm Georgina although it deepened explosively was just another failure in my opinion, another storm to forget, and again it was named by Met Éireann. Full marks to the Met Office for staying clear of this one. Met Éireann seem to be specialising in naming just about anything that comes their way at the moment, I suppose someone has to name them, and I’m sure if it hadn’t been them the French or maybe the Norwegians would have stepped in to do the honours.

Here’s an analysis of the top twenty or so peak gust from storm Georgina of Beaufort force 10 or higher, storm force gusts are an essential requirement of any reputable storm in my opinion, plus of course the obligatory vortex (fig 1).

Figure 1

The highest gust from a low-level land station was one to 85 mph at Benbecula on South Uist, the highest at all stations in WMO block #03 was the gust to 117 mph at the Bealach Na Ba on the road to Applecross in Wester Ross (fig 2). Interestingly the maximum gust across the Irish Republic was just 65 mph at Belmullet.

Figure 2
So much for storm naming – what about the warning?

I found it odd that there was just a single yellow warning issued for storm Georgina by the Met Office, and that covered just the Northwest of Scotland. Although the warning of gusts 50-60 occasionally 70-80 was very precise (as long as you weren’t driving to Applecross) the area of extent was far too limited. No warning were issued for the rest of Scotland, England or Wales, even though there have been gusts today of 83 mph at places such as Capel Curig and 70 mph on Emley Moor.

What difference is there for example, between the gust of 62 mph at Stornoway, in the yellow warning area, and the gust of 64 mph at Farnborough and not in the yellow warnings area? The chances of a slate being blown of a roof would be similar, but the difference in population would make the chances of it happening far greater at Farnborough.

In the table (fig 1) I’ve highlighted the stations that weren’t covered by the yellow warning, and as you can see they form the greater proportion of places that had storm force gusts. I don’t know, and can’t understand why a yellow warning wasn’t issued yesterday, when the GFS model correctly forecast peak gusts of 55 to 65 mph and occasionally higher for today. The Met Office needs to find some consistency in the thresholds they use in issuing warnings for strong wind, because I can’t see any logic in how they do it at the moment.

Storm Georgina – the Irish beat the Met Office to it again

Figure 1 – Courtesy of the Met Office

Met Éireann have now named low Helene (as it was formerly known) storm Georgina, if that makes any sense (fig 1). The Met Office seem convinced that the yellow warning that they have in place will suffice, even though the GFS model is predicting severe gale force gusts across England and Wales ahead of the cold front tomorrow morning.

All I can say is that they must be supremely confident that their NWP model (not that we can see any output from it) has got this nailed on the head, and that the current yellow warning they have in place are sufficient – time will tell.

Met Office leave it to Met Éireann again…

I didn’t notice but it looks like Met Eireann have named storm Fionn because of the current west northwesterly winds that are affecting the country today (161500 UTC to 170300 UTC), that low is currently lying northeast of Iceland. There have been gusts to 74, 72 and 67 mph respectively at Mace Head, Sherkin Island and Valentia already this afternoon.

The “separate weather system” mentioned in the tweet by the Met Office (above) is the developing low that’s set to run across the country overnight Wednesday into Thursday. This could of course trigger the naming of that system “Georgina” which could confuse people even more. I don’t see that much difference in the wind speeds across the Irish Sea, all this does is highlight the differences in approach of the two weather services.

Figure 2

Rather surprisingly the Met Office have chosen not to issue even a yellow strong wind warning for the UK today, even though there have been gusts to 62 mph at Culdrose, 66 mph at St Mary’s and 83 mph from the Seven Stones lightship. They certainly seem to be flying by the seats of their pants at the moment, I wonder just what the latest gusts are from the likes of Berry Head or the Needles Battery or High Bradfield?

Snow starting to mount up over higher ground

The incessant band of wintry showers that are feeding into western parts in the fresh or strong west northwesterly airstream means that snow is starting to accumulate quite significantly over higher ground at the moment. There’s 25 cm at Eskdalemuir in the southern uplands with more to come (fig 1).

Figure 1

The freezing level across Scotland is close to the surface this afternoon, at Watnall it’s lower at around 1500 feet, but at Camborne it’s still up around 3200 feet. I notice from the T+15 frame of the 06 UTC GFS model that cold air advection will continue through the evening and night, so we might even see a covering of snow (the purple contours) in the southwest away from windward coasts (fig 2).

Figure 2 – Courtesy of www.wxcharts.eu

Not a peep out of the Met Office about the possibility of a named storm on Thursday. The latest GFS run shows the low deepening very little as it runs quickly across Northern Ireland and northern England. I’m surprised that Met Éireann have not named the storm anyway, because they have a status Orange alert out for severe gales – mean speeds 35-43 knots – with gusts to 65 knots (fig 3), perhaps they’ve been leaned on by the big Chief at Exeter.

Figure 3 – Courtesy of Met Éireann

The latest on a possible Fionn

Image 1 – Courtesy of www.wxcharts.eu
Figure 2 – Courtesy of www.wxcharts.eu
Figure 3 – Courtesy of www.wxcharts.eu (Latest)

The latest 00 UTC GFS run (fig 3) has a very similar solution to yesterday’s 12 UTC run (fig 2) and a less intense depression across the Irish Sea than in earlier runs and less tight gradient over northern England (fig 1). It will be interesting to see which weather service names this one first, or even if this low is christened at all. The latest forecast chart I can find from big brother shows little change from the earlier T+72, with the culprit low just of the Ayrshire coast (fig 4) at 00 UTC on Thursday.

Figure 4 – Courtesy of the Met Office

Chances of storm Fionn looking more doubtful…

The chances of storm Fionn are looking more doubtful in the light of the 12 UTC run of the GFS model (fig 1). It’s still certainly going to be very windy across more southern areas, but with the low tracking a more southerly track across northern England closer to 53° rather than 56° north, the risk of severe gales further north has diminished.  The gradient in this run across the south is tight, but not as tight as in previous runs, that’s because the low itself is now expected to have a central pressure of 983 hPa rather than 971 hPa at 00 UTC on Thursday, which also robs it of its “explosive cyclogenesis” label. Quite a change – I wonder if it’s a blip that won’t be repeated in future runs, or has the model latched on to some changes upstream that have taken some of the fire out of its development?

Figure 1 – Courtesy of www.wxcharts.eu

Storm Fionn

Image 1 – Courtesy of www.wxcharts.eu

The GFS (fig 1) and the UKMO models (fig 2) are in broad agreement about the position and intensity of storm Fionn at 00 UTC on Thursday. I say storm Fionn because this must be a sure-fire bet now, and probably the weather community’s worst kept secret. I wonder if Met Éireann will nip it and name it before the UKMO does because it looks like so far this season they seem to be taking it in turns.

Figure 2 – Courtesy of UKMO

From the limited NWP data that I can access from the Met Office it seems the track in this T+72 is much further north than in the earlier run. They’ve also shortened the 1000 km bent back occlusion they had in that run, and it with this feature that the strongest gusts occur in storm Fionn. If the GFS is to believed, the strongest winds will be in a swathe across Northern Ireland and northern England. A rough calculation makes the speed the lows moving eastward at around 50 knots, so it’ll be all over by dawn on Thursday. I see the Met Office have an early warning of strong winds in place for Thursday for the whole country south of 56° north, but no word yet about whether it will be named Fionn. Isn’t NWP just wonderful and a marvel of science, allowing us to speculate about severe gales from a low that doesn’t even exist yet.