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Violent storm heading towards Scotland

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Stephen Marsh Stephen Marsh | 17:55 UK time, Thursday, 3 February 2011

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.

UK Radar 03/02/2011 1700

© British Crown copyright 2011, the Met Office

But that is about to change. A powerful storm is heading towards Scotland and the north of England. Storm force winds gusting at 130 km per hour [80mph] are predicted. There have been warnings of hurricane force 12 winds hitting the Hebrides and already winds reaching 100 kph [63mph] have been recorded in Tiree and at South Uist. The storm is predicted to bring up to 60mm of rain and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency has issued flood alerts.

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


  • Comment number 1.

    Wow I'm in the south west of Scotland and it is rather windy out. Snow in American, storms in Australia, landslides in Brazil...Freaky weather is scaring me

  • Comment number 2.

    It's been a wild day in SW Scotland! Power went off around 3 40 this afternoon, coming back on around 6 15. Had no mobile service since around 4 00 pm.
    We seemed to have a lull in the wind but it's getting up again now

  • Comment number 3.

    Just checking through the observations on my night shift here at the weather centre.

    Top wind gusts:
    Cairngorm summit 110mph
    Aberdaron (NW Wales) 90mph
    Keswick (Cumbria) 70mph

    Beginning to ease down now, but watch out for 60mph gusts to the east of the Pennines later Friday due to lee waves and rotor streaming in the warm, stable westerly airstream.

  • Comment number 4.

    Stop press - just been informed there was an even higher gust. Aonach Mor is a mountain-top automatic station near Fort William in Scotland. It recorded 131mph at 5pm on Thursday!

  • Comment number 5.

    I am on the foothills of the Black Mountains on the english side and haven't had much sleep because of the high winds. It must be dreadful in Scotland as it is pretty bad here!

  • Comment number 6.

    I am in Fife, we recorded our highest wind last night, 76mph. No structural damage to the house, but a couple of farm buildings have had roof damage. Great listening to the wind whilst tucked up in bed!

  • Comment number 7.

    Anyone seen my Sky dish? (North Ayrshire)

  • Comment number 8.

    Hi - thanks for all your blogs. Sounds petty wild up there.

    It's interesting about the 131mph winds on the top of Anoach Mor. We were filming on the summit on Jnauary 3rd and it was seriously windy and snowy then. But if we'd had winds of 131mph we'd have had to abandon the filming.

    If you want to get a glimpse of what it was like in the blizzard when we filmed check out Kate Humble's video blog on this site.

  • Comment number 9.

    What interested me here in south Skye was the difference between the steady state and peak wind speeds. Between noon and midnight yesterday the gusts were nearly all twice the steady state and earlier it was even more. Highest wind speeds (near Lusa at sea level) were at 10pm and were 37mph steady gusting to 66mph. The floor in my room was moving as the gusts came through.

  • Comment number 10.

    Hello 23 Degrees!
    Seems like very interesting blog to follow as I'm always astonished by nature.
    Was several times nearly blown yesterday when I walked back home from work in Aberdeen. What a persuasive wind!

  • Comment number 11.

    hi i live in glenlivet,cairngorms area. last night there was a loud howling around the house and seemed to be at its worst around 11.30pm. kept hearing a buffeting noise too. was a bit scary! funny today no slates off roof and the bin hasn't even moved! my chickens live in the trees so i guess they had a bit of a rough night!

  • Comment number 12.

    Here in SW\Scotland the wind is rising again now. Last night a huge ash tree fell and my coal house door blew right off - joy! The red squirrels were feeding frantically on the nut feeders mid morning and I actually saw a buzzard catch a pigeon that was slow getting off the ground because it misjudged the wind. Just a heap of feathers now!

  • Comment number 13.

    Hi Everyone

    Sorry this is a few days late, but I thought it might still be interesting. I live in Stornoway and I write a fairly regular weather blog at
    - in my last update, I've lots of info on the recent storm,

    Cheerie for now
    Eddie Graham

  • Comment number 14.

    In the first sentence of this article was the word metrological used intentionally or was it meant to be meteorological?


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