Violent storm heading towards Scotland
d ~ 87'475'200 km: day 34 of Earth's orbit
You may not believe it considering the amount of snow we had before Christmas but in metrological terms the weather in the UK this winter has been relatively calm and stable.
© British Crown copyright 2011, the Met Office
The storm is caused by cold air from the North Pole crashing into warm air from the south. When the two air masses crash into each small eddies of unstable air develop at the boundary between the air masses. In these eddies warm and cold air swirl around each other and can grow into a storm.
The storm heading towards Europe is one of two storms currently in the Atlantic. With so little activity in the Atlantic winds are rushing directly from the US to Scotland. This is what's generating the very high wind speeds that are hurtling towards Scotland.
The path of the storm across the Atlantic is steered by two "gatekeepers" - a region of high pressure over the Azores in the south and low pressure region over Iceland in the north. Differences in the relative strengths of these pressure centres and the changes they produce are called the North Atlantic Oscillation.
For the last few months it's been in a generally negative phase with the low pressure over Iceland tending to push any storms south and keeping the weather over the UK very cold but also quite calm and dry. In the last few days this oscillation has moved into its positive phase, where the high pressure over the Azores gets higher and the low pressure over Iceland drops lower. In this positive phase, storms like this one, are generally pushed towards the UK rather than further south.
If you are affected by the Storm in Scotland and can take any images or video please send them to the 23 Degrees team but only if you can do so from a place of safety.
More on this story: BBC News