The A-Z of UK storms

  • Strong winds stir up the seas, as Storm Abigail rolls past Scotland. Source:

    The isobar pattern showing the position of Storm Abigail at the time of peak winds in Scotland. Source: MeteoGroup.

    And the same image, only this time showing Storm Barney's position, when the strongest winds were affecting Wales. Source: MeteoGroup.

  • The A-Z of UK storms
    21.11.2015 17:52


    This October, the two national met services of the UK and Ireland joined forces to introduce the ‘Name Our Storms’ project, which has set about labelling wind storms expected to bring medium to high impacts to our shores through the autumn and winter.


    The US has long had a similar system when it comes to naming their hurricanes, which, like our new counterpart, alternates between male and female names moving down through the alphabet. As the UK and Ireland inherit leftover storms from the US, it was decided that existing named storms would retain their original US National Hurricane Centre name, as has been common practice in the UK and Ireland for some time.


    For the first month of the season, the new system was left gathering dust on the shelf, but within the space of a week earlier this month, two names were plucked from the top of the list and we saw our first officially named storms of the year. Storm Abigail (rather aptly named, A-big-gale!) was christened on the 10th November, as it became apparent on the forecast charts that high winds were headed for Scotland. Sure enough, a couple of days later, Abigail rolled past the north-west of the UK and Ireland through the night of the 12th into the 13th November. The storm brought wind gusts in excess of 80mph to parts of the Scottish Highlands and Islands, in addition to heavy rain and lightning. Impacts included power outages, ferry cancellations and school closures, as well as sea foam and flooding from the rough seas.


    A mere three days later, the next name off the UK Met Office and Met Éireann’s list was put into use, with Storm Barney officially titled on the 16th November. The following afternoon and night, the storm swept across Ireland and the UK, almost in the blink of an eye, but not before causing disruption from wind gusts in excess of 80mph again, with up to 85mph at Aberdaron in north-west Wales. This time, the impacts were further south, with thousands of homes in Wales and through central portions of England left with power for a time. Again, transport was affected, with various cancellations to flight and trains.


    Since these busy few days of stormy weather, the British Isles has seen a transition into a colder northerly airflow, with fewer concerns related to strong winds, and more from ice and snow. However, next week is expected to see a return to more unsettled westerly-type winds, and there are indications of potentially stormy weather coming again soon. So keep an eye and ear out for Clodagh, the next storm name on the list!

    By: Laura Caldwell