UK hit by storms

  • This image shows the forecast position and speed of the jet stream (wind 5-7 miles high) at 03:00 Friday 9th January, and the position of the two storms expected to impact Scotland. Credit: MeteoGroup.

    This image shows the hourly wind gust observations across northern parts of the UK between 01:00 and 06:00 on Friday 9th January. Credit: MeteoGroup.

    This image shows the position of a sting jet across southern Shetland, which brought a wind gust of 101mph at Lerwick during the hour up to 08:00 on Saturday 10th January 2015. Credit: MeteoGroup

  • UK hit by storms
    10.01.2015 16:03

    It’s been a very windy or stormy 48 hours across the UK, as a series of Atlantic storms have hit the British Isles. The first storm hit during Thursday night (8th January), bringing gusts in excess of 100mph to parts of north-west Scotland; with the second storm hitting the UK during last night (Friday 9th January) and then through today (Saturday 10th January). Following on from the article we published last Saturday about the potential stormy weather across the UK, this article will look at how the stormy weather has developed and the effects it has had on the UK.

    An intense westerly jet stream is the reason we have had the very windy and stormy weather across the UK recently. The path of the jet stream, which is about 5-7 miles above the earth’s surface, became positioned directly across the UK last week, and the jet stream strengthen, to the point that through its core last Thursday night and then on Friday, winds speeds in the jet stream reached 220-250mph.

    The reason why the jet stream is currently so strong is because very cold air that has been bottled up over the North Pole all winter is now moving south-eastwards across eastern Canada and the North Atlantic. At the same time, warm air from the sub-tropics is pushing north-eastwards towards Spain and France, creating a huge temperature contrast above the North Atlantic, which accelerates the jet stream.

    The first storm deepened rapidly as it tracked across the Atlantic towards the UK, before passing eastwards to the north of Scotland (across the Northern Isles) during Thursday night and into Friday morning. The deep low pressure system brought wind gusts of 80-90mph quite widely across north-west Scotland after midnight on Friday. The peak wind gust was 113mph, which was reported during the hour up to 0300 at Stornoway on the Western Isles. Gusts of 100-110mph were also reported locally across the Highlands, with Loch Glascarnoch recording a gust of 110mph.

    The second storm tracked eastwards to the north of Scotland (across Shetland) during Friday night and then through the day on Saturday. This storm brought wind gusts of 65-75mph quite widely across northern England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, with gusts of 50-60mph also recorded across the rest of the UK. The strongest wind gusts were across Shetland, where a sting jet developed bringing a peak gust of 101mph at Lerwick during the hour up to 0800.

    The very strong winds that have been hitting the UK over the past few days have led to travel disruption, as well as power outages across parts of Scotland and northern England. As of today (Saturday 10th January) approximately 32,000 Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution customers in the north and 1,500 customers further south across the UK, that have their power supplied by Scottish Power, have been affected.

    While the intense jet stream has been bringing very strong winds to the UK, it has had its benefits for those flying across the Atlantic. For example, a British Airways flight from New York to Heathrow on Thursday night only took 5 hours and 16 minutes, which is considerably shorter than the estimated minimum 6 hour flight time.

    The path of the jet stream is expected to remain across the UK during the next week and so further storms are expected to track eastwards across or to the north of the UK. These storms will bring further very strong, gusty winds as well as showers or spells of rain, which could be heavy and wintry from time to time. At present, Monday and Wednesday look most at risk of seeing stormy weather, but there is uncertainty at the moment, and forecasters will be monitoring these potential storms closely over the next few days.

    Remember you can keep up to date with the latest on the potential storms via our WeatherPro app, as well as our @Weathercast_UK twitter account.

    By: Gemma Plumb