Stornoway Hurricane Force 12 Report - 9/1/2015

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Stornoway Hurricane Force 12 Report - 9/1/2015

Postby Eddy Graham » 2015 Jan 09, 22:10

Hello Everyone

Greetings from Stornoway, Eilean Siar, Scotland:

Well - what can I say... the hour between 1:30-2:30am last night was perhaps the most frightening weather event I have experienced since I was a child during the severe thunderstorms of 30 July 1985 in Ireland. Most people on the island did not sleep a wink till at least 5am this morning, if at all. I would say 90%-100% of homeowners are reporting damage of some type.

Friends and family are safe. If I could sum the storm up in a word, it would be the noise - 'the sheer roar like a huge angry monster or animal, unleashed upon us down from the heavens'. Here in Stornoway town centre, we are amongst the few people on the island who have power tonight.

The general consensus in Stornoway today is that last night's hurricane (and I use the word here of course referring to hurricane force 12, but the term 'hurricane' itself is widely used here as a generic term amongst the populace to describe a violent storm) exceeded the intensity of the previous 'bench-mark' storm of 11/12 January 2005, but it was shorter in duration.

Thankfully no-one was killed or seriously injured -there were heavy airborne objects flying around for a few hours, some flew considerable distances apparently.

The Met Office failed to issue a red warning for this storm. Their T+24 Unified Model run for Stornoway was practically hopeless, giving max gusts for Stornoway in range 87-90mph - we had +25mph on top of this in the end. There is clearly an urgent need for new accurate, validated models of sting jet situations. But some models such as EURO4 and EC (run by Metdesk) fully captured its intensity correctly. Frankly, I am disgusted by the Met Office response today that no red warning was issued because we live in a 'low-population' area.

The official figures apparently show a 79mph mean speed around 2am, with 113mph max gust (well above the minimum criteria for a Cat 1 Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale).

I refer you to my blog for further accounts and photographs (including those of trees down in Lews Castle Grounds): http://bit.ly/1qGLyJm and my twitter feed: https://twitter.com/eddy_weather

Finally, my saddest photo of all - my pride and joy Stevenson Screen (which I only installed with great care 6 months ago) flat on the ground, shattering my son's goalposts in the garden.. the top of one raingauge also flew off, I found it later (damaged) in a neighbour's garden.
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Eddie Graham, Stornoway, 9th Jan 2015
Postscript: The previous SYY 03026 wind record was exceeded by a considerable margin. Earlier wind extreme as follows (I'm not suggesting any homogenised series here at all):
11-12 Jan 2005: 103mph
03 Jan 2000: 106mph
Dec 1989: I'll check this from Weather Log
Even the 31 Jan-1st Feb 1953 value was exceeded too I am told (don't have this to hand)
E.
Eddie Graham
Stornoway, Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Outer Hebrides), Scotland.

Stornoway town COL station, 20 AMSL, local records back to 1873.
Hebridean Weather Blog: http://bit.ly/1IFAPJa
Twitter Weather Feed: https://twitter.com/eddy_weather
Eddy Graham
 
Posts: 82
Joined: 2012 Jul 18, 17:09
Location: Stornoway, Scotland

Re: Stornoway Hurricane Force 12 Report - 9/1/2015

Postby Richard Hunt » 2015 Jan 10, 17:09

The photo with your Stevenson screen lying flat on the lawn is rather sad to say the least.

Have your instruments inside survived the fall?.

I love good stormy weather, but it's sobering to see your photos.

Hope all goes well, and not too much damage has occurred.
COL Station: 25020.

Watson W-8681 AWS. Standard Stevenson Screen. Maximum and Minimum screen thermometers. Grass minimum thermometer.
5" Copper standard rain gauge. Roof mounted annemometer.
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Re: Stornoway Hurricane Force 12 Report - 9/1/2015

Postby Len Wood » 2015 Jan 11, 17:17

Thanks for your report Eddy.
It makes frightening reading.
The picture of your flattened Stevenson screen is amazing.

The UKMO forecast model failed again to predict an extreme event.
The reply you got from UKMO about no red warning is really crass.
This was a cast iron case for a red warning.
Len

Wembury, SW Devon coast
N50.33 W4.13
Altitude 83 m asl
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Re: Stornoway Hurricane Force 12 Report - 9/1/2015

Postby Martin Rowley » 2015 Jan 11, 18:25

Len Wood wrote:
The UKMO forecast model failed again to predict an extreme event.
The reply you got from UKMO about no red warning is really crass.
This was a cast iron case for a red warning.


... The models in use at Exeter (UK, EC, French, US) taken together gave excellent guidance on this event within 36 hours of the event - there was a lot of 'wobbling' before that time-step though.

I don't want to be drawn too much, but I understand that Exeter did indicate a 'Red' was required, but were talked out of it by staff (Met and local council) responsible for that part of Scotland. The Western Isles council in particular were 'quite happy' with the Amber. Perhaps there are cost implications having staff on standby for a Red?

Martin.
Martin Rowley
West Moors, East Dorset [ altitude: 17 m/56' ]
NGR SU 082 023: postcode BH22 0GB
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Re: Stornoway Hurricane Force 12 Report - 9/1/2015

Postby Jeffrey Blackshaw » 2015 Jan 11, 19:13

I don't want to get involved with the met office forecast, but I was a little surprised that an event like this did not get a lot of coverage on the news. How often is a mean wind speed of 74mph recorded in a populated area in the UK? My own records in the Paisley area of the west of Scotland are also interesting at present. January so far has been way in excess of anything recorded in the same period last year in what turned out to be the wettest winter on record. I have recorded 170mm rainfall so far in January (last year was 84mm to this point).
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Re: Stornoway Hurricane Force 12 Report - 9/1/2015

Postby greg_gruner » 2015 Jan 11, 19:42

I am convinced that there is a regional bias in both news coverage and weather forecasts. I live in the "favoured" south-east, but I did once live in Cumbria and the national coverage of the storm of January 2005 was minimal. On the other hand, if there are 60mph gusts in the SE that bring a few trees down, or 1cm of snow, or one minor flood, it gets coverage. Stornoway may be in a low population area, but it has 10,000 people, and they should have proper forecast warnings and news coverage as for the rest of the UK.
Greg Gruner
Farnborough, Hampshire
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Re: Stornoway Hurricane Force 12 Report - 9/1/2015

Postby Eddy Graham » 2015 Jan 11, 22:38

Hello again everyone

Attached some first photos from the west of the island, where I (with no exaggeration) believe winds were in the range 120-130mph, as predicted correctly from the EC and EURO4 models (which had gusts of up to 132mph, whilst the the output I saw from the Met Office gave only 87-91mph max gusts). Stornoway is 35km from the open sea, in the direction of W (from which the full hurricane came), and so the 113mph gust here is frankly near the minimum of what most of the island endured.
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(Photos from Evelyn Maclennan)

For the past two days it has been near a state of emergency in past of the Isles. I am hearing stories of evacuations of 40 of 46 houses in the village of Bru, the residents were taken to Stornoway Hotels. In Harris, a relief centre was set up. Many people have had no heating for 2 days, and there is a shortage of gas bottles for mobile heaters and gas-rings. My friend has his whole family sleeping in the living room.

I don't believe for an instant that the Western Isles Council were happy for the warning to remain at amber. Why? Because they came to me for advice, when things were looking hairy! I advised the Emergency Planning Committee (who are the bravest, most fearless bunch of people you could ever meet) and informed them of a 130mph possibility on Wed afternoon!

And yes I do believe there is an 'institutional bias' towards this part of the UK, as in other regional parts too such as Cumbria and the North of England as some-one else has said. Believe me, if this error by the Met Office had happened in the SE of England, there'd be dozens dead, a national emergency and heads would roll! There are muffled calls now for a Scottish Met Office (which of course will go nowhere) but our I believe our local MP is on the case.

Perhaps you might say "Well it's your fault, you chose to live in Stornoway..": Well - 1) People have lived here reasonably happily for over 1,000yrs (longer than many other parts of the UK; (2) My family and I must live and work somewhere!; (3) Yes Stornoway is a windy place, but we saw winds never before experienced, considerably higher than 11-12 Jan 2005 (102mph) , 3 Jan 2000 (106mph), Dec 1989 and 31 Jan 1953.

Sincerely, from Stornoway, where it is a balmy 7degC now and winds were merely 50-60mph gusts today & yesterday (snow cover this morning, now thawed)

Eddie Graham
Eddie Graham
Stornoway, Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Outer Hebrides), Scotland.

Stornoway town COL station, 20 AMSL, local records back to 1873.
Hebridean Weather Blog: http://bit.ly/1IFAPJa
Twitter Weather Feed: https://twitter.com/eddy_weather
Eddy Graham
 
Posts: 82
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Location: Stornoway, Scotland

Re: Stornoway Hurricane Force 12 Report - 9/1/2015

Postby Darren Rogers » 2015 Jan 12, 12:30

In May 2012 up here in Cumbria we had successive days record an inch of rain even in the 'dry' east of the county - and no sign of a warning.
Bearing in mind some of the unnecessary warnings that we do get this seemed a bad call from the Met'O - so I asked why and the reply was:

"..chief forcester............, but as I used to live in the Eden Valley (Cumbria), I know that we can take it."

Looks like their excuses have actually become worse in the intervening period.
Darren Rogers
Maulds Meaburn
Cumbria (Half way between Shap and Appleby)

http://www.mauldsmeaburnweather.co.uk
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Re: Stornoway Hurricane Force 12 Report - 9/1/2015

Postby Eddy Graham » 2015 Jan 17, 21:09

A happy ending to this story (well, at least the for moment!)...

The good news is that I managed to right my Stevenson Screen back in an upright position and put the thermometers back inside it (I had taken them out prior to the hurricane). Mercifully, it suffered only relatively superficial damage (two hinges gone, a few small scrapes and indentations, but it can survive 'til spring for a full DIY repair-job. My son's goalposts were smashed in the fall, but I have promised to buy him a new set come springtime too.

As for Stornoway - the last residents of Lewis and Harris got their power reconnected on Thursday last (one full week after the storm) - there were delays due to further thunderstorms - here in Stornoway town, the total number of thunder days for January is already = 3 (+1 further lightning no thunder event), on top of the 7 that we had in December. Most damage to houses has been repaired, or at least stop-gap temporary solutions are in place (there is a shortage of slates on the island). The winds have completely died now, and the ferries are running on full timetables again.

Tonight, after a snowy week, we have a further 2cm of snow lying (with recent freezing rain showers making for very icy conditions), and I am happy and looking forward to the intense cold snap on its way over the coming 48hrs. Of course, temperatures won't fall nearly as low here as in e.g. Aviemore at -15degC; usually -5C air, -8C on the snow is remarkable enough for our location.

sincerely and kind wishes to all
Eddie Graham
Eddie Graham
Stornoway, Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Outer Hebrides), Scotland.

Stornoway town COL station, 20 AMSL, local records back to 1873.
Hebridean Weather Blog: http://bit.ly/1IFAPJa
Twitter Weather Feed: https://twitter.com/eddy_weather
Eddy Graham
 
Posts: 82
Joined: 2012 Jul 18, 17:09
Location: Stornoway, Scotland

Re: Stornoway Hurricane Force 12 Report - 9/1/2015

Postby Niall Dollard » 2015 Jan 17, 22:44

Hi Eddy

Good to hear that you managed to right the stevenson screen. At least you had the foresight to remove the instruments in advance. It sounds like a frightening experience and it is heart-warming to hear all power is connected again. It seems to me that the Hebridean residents are a resilient lot !

I agree fully with you that "low population" should never be a determining factor, when it comes to warnings.

Here in Ireland we have had some snow lying. Even as far south as Kilkenny but elevated parts of the north and west getting the lions share (15cm at Knock Airport on the 14th). The small 2cm that fell here was problematic for a time as it fell at temps at or below zero and became hardpacked. But was gone quickly with the next advancing storm. More recently there has been a problem with black ice and freezing rain. But mercifully no hurricanes !

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www.kilkennyweather.com || COL Station No.: EI027
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