Jour de grand vent en France

A gust of 92 mph at Lège-Cap-Ferret at 04 UTC this morning, topped the table of maximum wind gusts at low-level stations, at what has been a very windy Saturday across the southwest of Europe. Blame the translation on Babelfish by the way.

Figure 1


It’s on its way


The storm without a name is already developing quite nicely out in the Atlantic as you can see from this dramatic visible satellite image this morning at 0930 UTC, and there are none of the usual signs of explosive deepening either so don’t panic Captain Mainwaring.  Here are the latest observations from the Weather Buoy 62029 at 48.8N 12.4W, where pressure is falling quite steadily.



The latest T+24 forecast chart from the Met Office seem to be taking the low into the southwest approaches by midnight tonight.


Courtesy of the Met Office

The GFS for 0600 UTC follows on that theme taking the low northeast across the country with severe gales running up the south coast, not a day to be out for a dip in Brighton. I still can’t understand – if you use the named storms of last season as a guide – why they just didn’t give this one a name. I think that they might not get too far down the alphabet this season if this is the new criteria. Later on Monday another deep low follows close on the heels of this one – interesting times.


Courtesy of OGIMET

9 November 2016 – wind analysis


The stormy winter of 1989/90


The Burn’s day storm (1200 UTC 25 January 1990)

Since I’m in a bit of a stormy mood at the moment, and have recently been working on some software to measure the storminess across the British Isles in a new kind of way, I thought that I would take a look back at the stormy winter of 1989/90 (remember the Burn’s day storm of the 25th of January, well actually the Burn’s night storm?) and see how it compared with last winter (2015/16), which according to the Met Office (if you believe them that is) was one of the stormiest on record with as many as eleven named storms!

Well the first ranked table of winter gale days answers the question immediately and quite definitely. The winter of 1989-90 was head and shoulders the stormiest in the objective Lamb Weather Type [LWT] series that started in 1871, with a total of 58 gale days and a mean gale index [GI] of 32.4. Last winter did manage a very creditable joint eighth place ranking with 38 gale day, but was no match for 1989/90 or the stormy winters of 1989-90 (#2) and 2013-14 (#3). I think the Met Office would have had their work cut out for them big time if the naming of storms had been in existence back then.


Winter Gale Index  1871 – 2015/16

Here is a complete set of charts showing the number of gale days, the mean gale index and the anomaly from the Winters of 1871/72 to 2015/16, the winters  in this case are of the astronomical kind 21st December to 20 March.


Annual number of gale days (1871-2016)


Annual mean gale index (1871-2016)


Annual anomaly of gale days (1871-2016)

Those charts were from the old application that used the daily LWT from the Climate research unit at the University of East Anglia, the next few charts are from my more recent application and give a more detailed look at the gale index for any particular period  and  use 6 hourly charts. The first is for 1989-90 and a you can see that January and February were a particular stormy affair. There were ten distinct storm periods during 1989-90 the stormiest winter on record.



Six hourly gale index  (1 October 1989 – 31st March 1990)

I have looked at the Met Office “named” storms from 2015-16 in a previous articles and found some of them fall short of what I would describe a true storm, a gale maybe but not a storm. The chart below can only identify five storms that occurred during the 2015-16 season, and not the eleven “named” ones.


Six hourly gale index  (1 October 2015 – 31st March 2016)

Finally for a bit of fun (really), I thought I would try to visualise all the gales and storms since 1948 in one chart. Can’t be done? Have a look at this monster piece of climatological DNA. It’s still a bit rough round the edges as a chart goes, but it does manage to show every gale index greater than 30. The reason I can’t go back before 1948 at the moment is that the reanalysis data changes from using a 2.5 x 2.5° grid to a slightly finer 2° x 2° grid before 1948. Why the National Centers for Environmental Prediction [NCEP] wouldn’t produce a finer grid in more recent years rather than the other way round beats me.


Gale days 1948-2016 (1 October – 31st March)

Is our weather getting more stormy?


Courtesy of the BBC

Now that we are getting into the stormy part of the year I thought that I would have a look back and see if the weather in the UK was getting more stormy in recent years. I don’t have access to climate statistics or any detailed anemograph records for the last 145 years, but I do have some thing that is probably a whole lot more useful in helping me to find the answer to that question a lot quicker, and that is the daily National Centers for Environmental Prediction [NCEP] reanalysis data back to 1871. Simply put, that is a grid of six hourly daily pressures values [MSLP] on either a 2° or 2.5° grid for the whole world. The Climate Research Unit [CRU] at the University of East Anglia [UEA] have done all the hard work really, because they used this reanalysis data to calculate daily statistics for the Objective Lamb Weather Type [LWT] series. Apart from producing a daily LWT, a by-product of these calculations is a Gale Intensity or Gale Index [GI] value. So there are a couple of caveats with anything that you find when using the LWT series, and those are that the GI is for a fixed place [55°N and 5°W]  in SW Scotland, and the GI is just for the 1200 UTC observation, so it’s a little basic. But the good thing is that the data series is long and easy to use. The first chart is of annual gale index values since 1871, and a s you can see from the linear trend the index is 6.9% higher now that it was at the start of the series.


That 6.9% increase in the annual gale index since 1871 equates to an increase in 12.9 more days of gale in a year during that time. Incidentally the GI does not directly correspond to a wind speed in knots, so that a GI of 30 or more is equivalent to a gale (34-40 kts), a GI of 40 or more is equivalent to a severe gale (41-47 kts), and a GI of 50 or more is equivalent to a storm (>=48 kts).


The anomaly chart below shows more clearly when the gale index began to increase, and as you can see it’s been mainly since around 1980 that it’s shown a concerted increase. 1990 for instance was a remarkably stormy year, but equally there have been occasional quiet years like 2010.


If you look at the seasonal analysis through the year, all seasons show a similar ~7% increase in GI. This is the chart for Winter which shows an extra 5.8 gale days since 1871.


So the short answer to the question that I posed in my title is, yes, that’s if the gale index in the objective LWT series is anything to go by. Why it’s getting stormier is another question, and one that I am not even going to try to answer!


Unsettled in eastern Baltic


Weather Radar 18 Jun 2016 1215 UTC© Finnish Meteorological Institute

The press office at xmetman had to shut down this morning because the director of operations was kept busy cleaning the windows, but despite this setback, I’m back up and running now and eager to bring you another bit of meteorological trivia, and it concerns the fiery little area of low pressure that has tracked across central Europe yesterday and across the Baltic and into Finland during this morning. Very well forecast by the Met Office in their news blog, although they may have gone a little over the top with the gale force winds that they promised.

Contrasting weather for Europe this weekend (courtesy of the Met Office)

Contrasting weather for Europe this weekend (courtesy of the Met Office)

Looking at the wind data from the hourly SYNOP reports for the last 30 hours (thanks to OGIMET for this wonderful resource even though you’ve never replied to a single email I’ve sent you over the years – next time it’s in Spanish), it looks like only three low-level stations in the whole area reported a gale, and just one of these was in Poland at a place called Inowroclaw in the centre of the country, when the mean speed reached 35 knots with a gust to 52 knots at 1500 UTC yesterday afternoon.

12342 Inowroclaw - Poland  83 AMSL 15 June-17 June 2016

12342 Inowroclaw – Poland 83 AMSL 15 June-17 June 2016

Maximum Hourly Mean Speed 0600 UTC on 17 June - 1300 UTC on 18 June 2016

Maximum Hourly Mean Speed 0600 UTC on 17 June – 1300 UTC on 18 June 2016

Highest Maximum Hourly Mean Speed In WMO Blocks 02,10,11,12 & 26 0600 UTC on 17 June - 1300 UTC on 18 June 2016

Highest Maximum Hourly Mean Speed In WMO Blocks 02,10,11,12 & 26 0600 UTC on 17 June – 1300 UTC on 18 June 2016

Synops for Fri, 17 Jun 2016 at 1500 UTC

Synops for Fri, 17 Jun 2016 at 1500 UTC