28 Oct 2013

UK storm: the facts

As predicted, southern and eastern parts of England woke up to damaging gusts of wind from a storm that has killed four people so far and caused widespread disruption.

The storm moved along a line from the Bristol Channel, through the Midlands and the Wash before heading out over the North Sea, leaving a trail of damage in its wake – as well as some localised flooding from heavy rain.

It formed to the west of the UK before developing rapidly overnight and was catapulted across southern areas by a fast moving jet stream.

Strong Winds And Heavy Rain Hit  England and Wales

In advance of the storm, the Met Office issued an amber ‘be prepared’ warning, highlighting that damage and disruption was likely.

Strongest wind gusts

Southern and eastern parts of England had the most damaging gusts of wind, with the following gusts recorded;

Needles, Isle of Wight – 99mph

Langdon Bay, Kent – 82mph

Isle of Portland – 81mph

Andrewsfield, Essex – 79mph

Odiham, Hampshire – 78mph

Thorney Island, Hampshire – 76mph

Solent, Hampshire – 75mph

Yeovilton, Somerset – 75mph

Lyneham, Wiltshire – 75mph

Hurn, Dorset – 74mph

Manston, Kent – 70mph

Heathrow Airport – 69mph

Two swathes of damaging wind

As the storm developed, there were two swathes of strong wind that hit southern and eastern parts of England.

The first swathe was ahead of the storm in the early hours of Monday morning, sweeping in from the south west and battering southern coastal counties of England.

The second swathe was on the back edge of the storm as it cleared away, lashing East Anglia and south east England during the morning rush hour.

It was this second swathe of damaging wind that was likely to have been caused by something called a sting jet.

What is a sting jet?

A sting jet is an intense, concentrated burst of enhanced wind gusts that occur around the tip of storms like the one that hit today.

They are caused by rain evaporating into dry air a few miles up in the sky. As the process of evaporation uses up latent heat, it causes the air to cool rapidly.

It’s this rapidly cooling air that becomes denser than the relatively warmer air around it and as a result, slams down towards the surface – enhancing the strength of the wind in the process.

A sting jet occurred in the Great Storm of 1987, which of course was much worse than the storm that we experienced today.

How does this storm compare to others in the past?

In recent days, there have been comparisons made to the Great Storm of October 1987, which had devastating effects on southern parts of England.

BRITAIN-WEATHERThat storm gave winds gusts of 115mph, killed more than 15 people and downed an estimated 15 million trees.

The storm that hit today, when looking at wind speeds and impact combined, is probably the worst that the UK has seen since October 2002.

Whilst there’ll be a brief respite with quieter weather in the coming days, low pressure will bring more rain and brisk winds later this week – although not as strong as today’s.

Don’t forget, you can get the latest forecast on the Channel 4 Weather website. If you have any pictures of damage caused by the storm, please send them to me on Twitter – @liamdutton

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