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The Great Irish Storm of 12 Feb 2014

On 12th February 2014, parts of Ireland endured the most severe wind storm since "Hurricane Debbie" of 16th September 1961.

The worst effected areas were Munster and south Leinster), where windspeeds widely exceeded those of the last Great Storm of Christmas Eve 1997*, with full hurricane force (Category 1) winds being recorded at Mace head (Co. Galway).

Some of the notable features of the storm were as follows:

  • Mace Head recorded a mean 10-minute wind speed of 65kts (Hurricane Category 1 on the Saffir-Simpson scale).
  • The maximum gust of 86kt recorded at Shannon Airport was the highest since Hurricane Debbie in 1961.
  • Shannon also recorded a 10-minute mean wind speed of 61kts, its highest since records began there in 1939
  • Kinsale Energy Gas Platform (off Co. Cork) reported a maximum wave height of 25m in the afternoon, the largest ever wave recorded in Irish waters.

A full report from Met Eireann on the storm is available here.

http://www.met.ie/UserMediaUpl/file/WinterWx13_14.pdf

A nice report on the storm's effects in Killkenny is given by Niall Dollard at KilkennyWeather.com

A fairly typical video that shows the full power of the storm at Tralee can be seen here.

*N.B. I will never forget the Christmas Eve storm of 1997, for I was the sole forecaster on evening duty in London, and the previous duty forecaster (the manager) missed the mesoscale development of the storm completely... So when I saw Valentia jump 23hpa/3hrs early that evening, I knew Munster/Leinster were in for a hooley to remember (and later N Wales, N England). I had to update all the forecasts urgently, and was quoted by  the Press Association as saying "People will die!" (Sadly, I was correct).  

Today, I actually get my met students to draw the weather chart from the synops of that day as an exercise in one of my classes - so some good has come out of the story in the end.

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Original post of 12 Feb 2014 (below):

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I have checked my records, and I believe Shannon Airport's (03962) max wind gust this afternoon of 86 knots is the highest at the station since the "Hurricane Debbie" storm of 16/9/1961.

Shannon Airport is an established meteorological station in Ireland and has (I believe so) a fairly homogenous wind record stretching back to 1939.

I rooted out all my old Monthly Weather Bulletins from the loft this evening, and here are the various records over the past 20-50 years):

  • 16/9/1961: 93 knots (note the palindromic date!)
  • 9/2/1988: 80 knots
  • 4/1/1991: 75 knots
  • 8/12/1993: 70 knots
  • 24/12/1997: 83 knots
  • 26/12/1998: 72 knots
  • 12/2/2014: 86 knots

Hence I believe today's max wind gust is the highest at the station since that infamous and remarkable day in 1961. This is certainly of note.

As I type, reports are still coming in of major disruption across counties Galway, Cork, Clare, Kilkenny and elsewhere. Remarkably, there are no reports of lives lost (yet): the "weaker" storm of 4/1/1991 was responsible for 14 deaths alone in Ireland.

And here's a satellite image (see above, courtesy EUMETSAT) of the storm at its peak this afternoon. I believe the banded structure in the cloud tip (where it looks like a bit like a scorpion's tail curled upon itself) is CISK ("Conditional Instability of the Second Kind"), otherwise known as "slantwise convection". This type is thought to help form a "sting jet" and the most extreme winds (Browning, 2004).

Eddie Graham Stornoway, Scotland

Reference: 

Browning, K. A. (2004). The sting at the end of the tail: Damaging winds associated with extratropical cyclones. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society130(597), 375-399.