Named Storms

The United Kingdom’s Met Office, in collaboration with their Irish counterpart Met Éireann, decided to introduce a storm naming system following the St Jude’s day storm on 27–28 October 2013 which caused 17 deaths in Europe and the 2013–14 Atlantic winter storms in Europe to give a single, authoritative naming system to prevent confusion with the media and public using different names for the same storms.


The objectives behind the decision were to:

  • Raise awareness of the dangers of storms
  • Ensure greater public safety
  • Avoid confusion if the name of the remnant of a tropical storm is used, for instance “the ex-hurricane Joaquin that reached Europe earlier this month.”
  • Involve the public
  • Operate with a common cross border system

The names will be used on predicted large-scale, cyclonic windstorms with potential for significant land-based wind impacts. This may result in names being allocated to events that are below the traditional Beaufort scale definition of a storm.


A storm will be named when it is deemed able to have a “substantial” impact on the UK or Ireland. Met Éireann names any storm which triggers a status orange or red weather warning focusing on wind, though consideration will also be given to rain and snow events in 2016–17. The basis for such as outlined on their weather warning service are mean wind speeds in excess of 40 mph (65 km/h) or gusts over 68 mph (110 km/h). Similarly, the Met Office name storms that have the potential to cause medium (amber) or high (red) impacts to the UK. It describes the wind strength relative to observations such as “falling trees or tiles and other items like garden furniture being blown around and even a number of properties left without electrical power.”

  • Status Amber or Status Red weather warnings will be applied to named storms.
  • In the case of ex-tropical storms or hurricanes, the original name allocated by the US National Hurricane Center in Miami will continue to be used.
  • The less common letters Q, U, X, Y and Z will not be used, in common with the US hurricane warning system.

Info courtesy of Wikipedia

The named storms of 2016-17

I know that there were only five named storms in the 2016-17 season, and one of them was aka as the ‘Irish Storm’, so which one is the odd man out?

Angus 20 November 2016
Barbara 23 – 24 December 2016
Conor 25 – 26 December 2016
Doris 23 February 2017
Ewan 26 February 2017 (Ireland)

Ingraban continues to play havoc with flaming June

Figure 1

Large 24 hour rainfall totals have been recorded across the northeast of both England and Scotland in the last 24 hours ending 06 UTC, and it’s still raining in Northeast Scotland. There is the odd white pixels in my estimates from the weather radar south of Nairn, which indicate accumulations in excess of 150 mm (fig 1), so I expect that the rivers Spey, Findhorn and Nairn are all now in full spate after the deluge of the last 36 hours. Wettest from the observations was Loftus in North Yorkshire, with 58.2 mm in the 24 hours (fig 2), Edinburgh wasn’t far behind with 48.6 mm.

Figure 2

The inset observation grid are the last 24 hours observations from Lossiemouth, overlaid on a map of 24 hour rainfall totals (fig 3).

Figure 3

The heavy rain brought down the freezing level overnight as well, so the very tops of the Cairngorms could have seen some of this rain fall as snow, that combined with a 50 knot mean northwesterly might put a hold on your plans to knock of a few Munros in the area today (fig 4). The Met Office were too frit to call this storm Fleur, but the Berlin Meteorological Institute ended up naming this particular vortex Ingraban, either way this vortex continues to play havoc with flaming June.

Figure 4

I see the upper cloud from the next feature as got well into Ireland now (fig 5), and looking at the forecast from the GFS model, it looks like Thursday and Saturday will be wet again, in many areas, particularly the further northwest that you are in the country. After the weekend though, things look like they start to settle down, and next week we may well see the return of flaming June.

Figure 5

Storm Fleur?

The vigorous low that’s forecast for Monday now looks like it will track across Cornwall and Devon, up through the Midlands before exiting the east coast of  England via the Wash, that’s according to the latest run of the GFS model (fig 1).

Figure 1 – Courtesy of OGIMET

In the southwest, there will be a spell of 12 hours of strong southerlies ahead of the low during Monday [5th June], the winds will then veer round in the early evening, as the low tracks rather smartly northeastward, and blow hard right through the night and for most of Tuesday [6th June] from the west or northwest. The lowest pressure that I can see for the centre of the low from the forecast frames is around 985 hPa at 00 UTC on Tuesday. As usual with the Met Office, we are limited to the old fax charts when it come to looking at their NWP output, so below is their T+72 offering (fig 2) for Tuesday at 06 UTC, whatever happened to summer?

It will be interesting to see just how this one pans out, for the moment the media don’t seem to have caught on to the story. I also wonder if the Met Office would make an exception for such an unusually vigorous low in early June, and give the low a name? I think Fleur, would be a very appropriate name for a Summer storm like this.

A barograph for Stocking Farm, Shropshire

Figure 1 – Courtesy of Google Earth

You may wonder why I can produce a fairly accurate barograph for the last seven months for some obscure farm in the heart of rural Shropshire. The reason why I can is that the six-hour reanalysis MSLP data that I download from the NOAA 20th century reanalysis project is based on a 2.5° x 2.5° grid, and Stockings farm is little more than a few hundred yards from latitude 52.5° north and longitude 2.5° west (fig 1).

Figure 2

The barograph (fig 2) shows the anticyclonic nature of last Autumn and Winter, the pink vertical bars are the five named storms that occurred during that period. I thought that I’d made a mistake when checking the results around Christmas, thinking that the anomalies were positive and much too high, but then I realised that the storm force winds from storm Barbara and Conor were caused as much by the reluctance of pressure to give way further south, as it was by the low pressure from the vigorous extratropical cyclones crossing the Norwegian sea further north. This did not happen with storm Angus, Doris or Ewan.

The Name our Storms project

Figure 1 – Data courtesy of the CRU

Now that the meteorological Winter of 2016-17 has finished, I thought that I would look back at how the ‘Name our Storms project’ that has been running for the last sixteen months is going, and see how each storm figured when comparing it to the gale index in the objective LWT series from the CRU. As you can see from the chart (fig 1), only two of the sixteen storms, Henry (who remembers that one?) and Barbara, managed to score higher than gale index 50 that defines a storm. There are three obvious reasons why this maybe so:

  • The objective LWT is for just for a single time – 12 UTC each day.
  • The gale index is for just a single point location – 55N 5W.
  • The named storm was wrongly named (Ewan is a prime example of this).

There are certain things you could do to improve the gale index method of assessing whether a low should be named:

  • There is no reason why you couldn’t use 6 hourly NCEP data which will reduce the chances of a storm slipping through the net (1).
  • You could also generate a gale index for a grid of other locations around the UK, this again should reduce the chances of a storm slipping through the net (2).
  • As for wrongly named storms (3), which I think makes up for a lot of the misses, it’s far too subjective in my opinion and that’s why it needs changing. That would of course mean scrapping the current criteria we use at the moment for naming storms, which is based on the NSWWS impact matrix. There is absolutely no reason why the Met Office or Met Éireann couldn’t run the NWP for an upcoming potential storm through a more sophisticated ‘gale index’ algorithm, which would objectively give them a decision on whether to name the low. If you think about it, named storms in the past have always had the luxury of being named after the event, and not before it, a luxury you don’t have in this project. An objective method would at least disconnect the naming of storms from the NSWWS, which in my eyes is just an added confusion, and get back to classifying a low by the strength of the wind that circulates around it.

Two things that the naming of Storm Ewan and Best Picture have in common…

Figure 1

The only thing that you can say with any honesty about yesterday, is that the naming of Storm Ewan by Met Éireann wasn’t quite as big a mistake as naming La La Land the best picture at the Oscar’s! The winner in the total hours of gales categories went to Aberdaron with 7 hours, whilst the highest gust award went to Capel Curig with 75 mph, both in North Wales.

Figure 2

On the other hand the Met Office came out of the whole affair very well, their yellow alert of gusts to 50-60 and isolated ones to 70 mph, was more or less spot on, although they might have gone a bit mad with the yellow area on the map over Scotland. I have to admit that I did go a bit overboard with this blog, it was certainly windy over some parts of Scotland but not stormy. That’s blogging for you, especially when all you have to go on is six hourly GFS data, and are not privy to the latest hourly mesoscale NWP output from the Met Office, well that’s my excuse!

Figure 3 – Courtesy of the Met Office

Figure 4 – Courtesy of the Met Office

Storm Ewan misses Ireland

The Irish really shouldn’t have pressed the Met Office to name storm Ewan, because the winds have been a bit of a flop over the Republic today. There’s no doubt that it’s been a windy old day, but to name the low on the basis of gusts less than 60 mph was a mistake. I think the Met Office use gusts of 70 mph as the storm threshold, although I could be wrong. Storm Ewan is still deepening of course, and a distinct centre is starting to form in the North Minches. I would still wager that the worst of Ewan is yet to come for the North of Scotland and the Northern Isles, so all is not lost! Perversely, the highest gusts today have been 75 mph in West Wales, but over Ireland the highest I’ve seen are from a number of stations reporting gusts to 56 mph.

Figure 1

The Candlemas low – the storm that never was!

I did go on (ad nauseam) about the Candlemas low at the start of the month, and how it was ignored as a named storm event, even though it exhibit rapid cyclogenesis and had extensive severe gales associated with it. This morning I noticed an interesting graph on the Met Éireann web site concerning the weather buoy M5 on Candlemas, when a 12.5 metre wave was recorded by the onboard sensor (fig 1). I just love the inset image of Robert Pershing Wadlow the world’s tallest man, it beats an elephant, giraffe or London bus in my opinion!

Figure 1 – Courtesy of Met Éireann

It’s good to see that great minds think alike, because I had blogged about a 12 metre wave that occurred at K1 (fig 2) at around 12 UTC on Candlemas day itself.

Figure 2

Here are the locations of the two weather buoys M5 and K1 (fig 3), it’s just a shame that so many appear to be missing or damaged at the moment. Maybe I had it wrong in that article, and that some of the data is being held back for other reasons, because I have noticed that SYNOP data for M5 has not been available for some time, maybe even years, although you can access it from the Met Office website. It was certainly available back in 2011, so I guess the reason that it’s missing maybe because the Irish now maintain M5, and they chose not to release the data on the GTS like the Met Office do with their buoys (bless their cotton socks), if this is the case, shame on the Irish.

Figure 3 – Courtesy of the Met Office

The fact that the Candlemas low should have been a named storm is underlined by the Gale Index from the latest objective LWT data (fig 4), but what the hell do I know.

Figure 4 – Raw data courtesy of NCEP

Curiouser and curiouser – Storm Ewan

Figure 1

Yesterday I suggested that at one time the low that is forecast to develop across the West of Scotland today, would under last year’s criteria, be a named storm, and lo and behold the Irish have just gone and named it! The news release from the Met Office goes onto explain…

Although Sunday will be a windy day in the UK, the same level of impacts are not expected to be seen across England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

As far as I can see from the available NWP, I would say that Scotland, especially the north, is at even more risk of high winds than is Éire, but because there needs to be some form of dual impact with the criteria that governs the naming of storms in the UK, we wouldn’t have bothered. Here’s the justification from the Met Office.

Chief Meteorologist Eddy Carroll said: “Sunday will be a wet and windy day in the UK, especially in the north and west, however the impacts are unlikely to be at same level as could occur in Ireland.  Whilst there is still some uncertainty, the wind speeds forecast for the UK on Sunday are very unlikely to be of the same strength we saw earlier in the week with Storm Doris.”

All I can think is that their has been a spat between the two forecaster chiefs, and the Irish have decided that it’s about time they played a part in this naming of storm alliance!

Pressure is starting to fall quite nicely over Southwest Ireland at the moment in the latest chart (fig 1), and it looks like it will be another fascinating day of weather across Britain and Ireland. I don’t know if the GFS model has a good grasp of  this feature, and it would be good to see what the Met Office mesoscale model is forecasting, but the Met Office remain intent on hiding all the NWP data that they generate on our behalf so forget that idea. Hardly a mention of storm Ewan on the BBC forecast, or the alerts come to that, and I do the get feeling that the word uncertainty is synonymous with any alert that comes out of the Met Office these days.

Figure 2 – Courtesy of OGIMET

Figure 3 – Courtesy of OGIMET

Storm Doris as it happened

1635 UTC

Final wash up, with gusts to 81 mph on the north Norfolk coast in the last couple of hours. All in all quite a windy day. Down here in Devon it’s been quite bright, and apart from a few spots of rain from the cold front, and an odd shower, no measurable rain either. The NWP from earlier in the week was pretty good all in all.

Figure 15

This chart (fig 14), although quite simple tells you where the real gale occurred today, even London had a proper gale for at least a while today.

Figure 14

1250 UTC

Doris is now away into the North Sea, leaving gales behind in her wake. The 44 knot mean gusting 58 at Cranwell makes it a force nine strong gale even inland.

Figure 13

The 94 mph from Capel Curig is looking like the headline maximum gust from Doris. Snow was well forecast, but it wasn’t really cold enough to present any real problems.

Figure 12

1002 UTC

All high ground in Scotland seems to be getting a good covering of snow as forecast. I can’t see it causing too much of a problem at the moment though.

Figure 11 – Courtesy of Traffic Scotland

0947 UTC

A gust to 94 mph at Capel Curig at 09 UTC. Storm Doris now over the Lake District, and bottomed out at around 975 hPa. 5 cm of snow at Aboyne, and rain turning to sleet at Edinburgh.

Figure 10

0840 UTC

Gust to 82 mph at Capel curig in last hour. Rain reluctant to turn to snow over southern Scotland…

Figure 9 – Highest gusts 00-08 UTC

Impressive visible satellite image.

Figure 8

0800 UTC

Figure 7 – Aberdaron observations

Having had a quick look at the map of the Aberdaron site and the terrain, it’s no wonder they had a 53 knot mean last hour. I just wonder how the wind speed will react as the gradient starts to vear.

Figure  6 – Courtesy of Bing Maps & Ordnance Survey

0742 UTC

Gust to 78 mph in last hour at Aberdaron…

Figure 5

Wet snow in the usual places…

Figure 4

0635 UTC

87 mph gust at 02 UTC at Mace Head is the highest gust I can see so far.

Figure 3

Doris is more or less on track and moving very quickly eastward at around 975 hPa.

Figure 2

Nice spiral of rain around the centre, cold front already through mid-Devon. Very heavy rain now moving through NW England. Snowing in parts of central Scotland, but Doris is moving so quickly I can’t see this being a big problem (famous last words) like the wind.

Figure 1