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Weathering the Storm – Exploring the Rise in UK Storms

Weathering the Storm – Exploring the Rise in UK Storms

Ten storms have happened in the past storm season alone, leaving many of us wondering about the reasons behind this. 

Understanding the Storms

The increase in storm frequency could be caused from a variety of factors. Climate change has led to rising sea temperatures and altered atmospheric conditions, creating an environment conducive to storm development.  

Types of Storms

There are many different types of storms such as;

  • Thunderstorms
  • Hailstorms
  • Hurricanes
  • Tornadoes
  • Snowstorms/Blizzards
  • Heavy rain
  • Cyclones
  • Typhoon
  • Squall

Squalls have small increases in wind speed which is accompanied by heavy rain. Cyclones, on the other hand, are large-scale, characterised by low-pressure centres and rotating winds.

The term “cyclone” encompasses both tropical cyclones, which can develop into hurricanes or typhoons, and extratropical cyclones associated with mid-latitude weather systems.

Typhoons specifically refer to powerful tropical cyclones in the Northwest Pacific, impacting countries like Japan and China.

The UK experiences infrequent occurrences of these specific storm types due to its geographical, oceanic, and atmospheric conditions.

Instead, more common weather disturbances in the region are associated with extratropical cyclones.

Causes of Storms

Storms happen from the collision of warm and cold air, creating atmospheric instability. As climate change intensifies, the energy and moisture in the atmosphere increase and storm formation grows. 

The increase of storms in the UK may be influenced by various factors. Natural climate, long-term climate change, and the North Atlantic Oscillation can contribute to fluctuations in storm frequency and intensity.

Advances in technology and improved reporting systems enhance public awareness, making weather event information more accessible.

Additionally, urbanisation and land use changes can influence localised storm effects. While cyclical weather patterns are inherent to certain regions.

Ongoing scientific research and monitoring are essential to understanding the complex interaction of natural and anthropogenic factors influencing storm patterns in the UK.

It is not known as of yet how dramatic the storms will be in the future. 

Impact of Storms

Depending on the type of storm the UK faces, it can bring a whole variety of factors that impact our day to day lives. For example;

  • Flooding: a flash flood can happen in urban areas during a storm, this can be due to poor drainage systems. A river flood can also happen when intense rainfall occurs, river floods can overflow banks which can bring damage for wildlife.
  • Wind Damage: during a storm there can be powerful winds, which bring short and long-term damage; breaking infrastructure and power outages.
  • Environmental: A storm can impact ecosystems affecting wildlife.
  • Flooding causes smaller mammals, such as caterpillars and hedgehogs, to be washed away from their homes and potentially drowning them. This has a knock on effect for bigger mammals, like barn owls, who will not have food, affecting the food chain.
  • Pollution: Flooding results the release of pollutants from industrial sites, leading to environmental contamination.

Why do we name the storms? 

The Met Office has only been naming storms since 2015, and the naming system maintains consistent messages and aid communication for the media and government agencies. A storm is named when there is potential to cause damage.  

Named storms in the past year

  • Jocelyn – January 2024
  • Isha – January 2024
  • Henk – January 2024
  • Gerrit – December 2023
  • Fergus – December 2023
  • Elin – December 2023
  • Debi – November 2023
  • Ciaran – November 2023
  • Babet – October 2023
  • Agnes – September 2023

How Storms are named?

The Met Office, Ireland’s Met Eirann and The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) come together to name the storms. The public can suggest names for the storms, or the storms are named in honour of past scientists and weather experts.

For example, Storm Jocelyn was named after famous physicist Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell – an astrophysicist who discovered the first radio pulsars in 1967.

Storms and Sustainability

With the rise of storm activity, we need to embrace sustainability. Resolving climate change through sustainable practices, such as reducing carbon emissions and promoting renewable energy sources, is crucial for long-term resilience in communities.

By reducing carbon emissions and promoting renewable energy sources, we address the root causes of climate change and contribute to long-term resilience in communities.

Sustainable practices not only mitigate the impacts of intense and frequent storms but also foster environmental preservation, protect biodiversity, and enhance human health. Transitioning toward a sustainable future is crucial for building resilient communities and ensuring the well-being of our planet.

Storm Surge protect our planet sign.

As the UK faces a barrage of storms, understanding the causes of a storm and adopting proactive measures is essential. By addressing climate change and promoting sustainability, we can work against the brute force of these storms, while working towards a more resilient and environmentally conscious future. 

Protecting Ourselves

There are steps we can take to protect ourselves from the impact of these storms. For example, securing loose items in your gardens and do not go outside unless necessary.

If you do need to go somewhere, take care when driving and plan your journey ahead of time in case of delays. 

If your home has been affected by the recent floods or storm damage, Rainbow Restoration’s flood restoration experts are on hand to restore your property back to normality. Please call our 24 hour National Helpline on 01623 422 488 for assistance.

Published: 12 Feb 2024