Well, it all depended on what part of the United Kingdom you were in when it did. If you lived in the Republic of Ireland it was a simple case of “Batten down the hatches and stay indoors”, advice ignored by the folks at RTE (Radio Telefis Eireaan) who are the national broadcasters who endured the worst of it but were able to report on things such as a trampoline being blown away in County Cork
The postal service coming to a complete standstill
and thanks to social media a recording of a gust of wind measuring 119 mph at Fastnet Lighthouse all which prompted the Prime Minister (or Taoiseach as he is called in the Irish Republic) saying “When we say stay at home, we mean it!
And what about the rest of the UK you may ask? Well, the rest of the country was thinking “Well, this doesn’t look too bad!” when they woke up but soon a new hashtag was appearing on social media #redsun as all over the country photographs started to appear showing the exact same time
and even here
So what was causing this? Was this a sign that Ophelia was bigger than expected? Well, yes and no. Yes, Ophelia was much bigger with air being brought up from Spain and North Africa and that’s the clue. In amongst all that of that warmth was, by my reckoning, about two tons of Saharan sand and smoke from the wildfires in Spain and Portgual, which as you all knows shifts the spectrum into the red end and thus produces a sunset in the middle of the day. I was lucky enough to actually record the transition from the sand section of the storm to the not sandy section and will put that online if members would like me to?
So it seems only fair to have a look at the history of land falling storms in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland and it turns out there is quite the history. Using reconstruction the first land falling hurricane was in 1680 which became extra tropical and affected both Wales and Southern England, then some two hundred years later another one crossed the UK causing rough seas in the English Channel, followed by three in three years (and the last two happening within two months of each other!)
In the 20th century, the UK has had land falling hurricanes in 1922, 1961, 1966, 1973, 1978, 1986, 1993, 1996 and 1998 (including famous hurricanes such as Debbie, Charley and Lili) and since the turn of the millennium we’ve had Issac in 2000, Katia in 2011 and now Ophelia in 2017.
So what’s likely to happen? Well, the latest estimates are calling for a landfall at around 1.00pm BST on Monday in the extreme south west of Ireland, tracking across the island and reaching Northern Ireland by 5.00pm BST before travelling across the sea to Scotland making a second landfall in Argyll and Bute around midnight on Tuesday morning, and then a third landfall over the Orkney Islands and a fourth landfall over the Shetland Islands during the course of Tuesday.
In January 1839, the “Night of the Big Wind” which the Dublin Daily Press reported “We dare not call this hurricane a phenomenon, however rare or unprecedented. But it will, nevertheless, become a study to our meteorologists” is such a cultural feature of the history of Ireland as the biggest storm ever to make landfall in what is now the Irish Republic with estimates stating that it could have been as big as a cat 3 storm. In 2011, the remains of Hurricane Katia made landfall in Ireland leading to scenes like this
And just as in the UK, the remains of Hurricane Charley led to the same mass flooding, however if what the NHC and NOAA have just published holds true on Monday, then Ireland is about to have it’s second “Night of the Big Wind” and it’s second land falling hurricane
Therefore, as your reporter from this neck of the woods (who although assured by the BBC is not a hurricane) will do everything I can to a) report on the effects of Ophelia on the UK and b) raise awareness that, if proof were really needed now, the climate has CHANGED (past tense)
This morning the British and Irish Met Offices announced that the first named storm of the 2017 / 2018 winter season would make landfall in the United Kingdom and under the names chosen for this season, that storm would be named Aileen (which the She Knows site states is an Irish name meaning “Light”)
Aileen is expected to make a formal landfall in Cumbria at around midnight tonight and when it does so, the strongest winds (of around 60mph) will be on the southern flank of the storm and therefore the worst places to be battered are likely to be the coasts of Western Wales, South Western England and the English Channel. As the storm crosses the country, by Wednesday morning I would not be in the least bit surprised to hear that crossing on the Channel have been cancelled (sustained winds of 63mph) but she will not be finished yet as next Denmark gets a right battering (especially around the German / Danish border) with winds up to 111 kmph (70mph) before going to the Baltic States (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) before dissipating over Finland.
On Thursday the Met Office (and their partners in the Met Éireann which covers the Republic of Ireland) published the list of names to be allocated to the winter storms (wind, rain or snow) based on names suggested by the British and Irish public.
which prompted Larry, the Downing Street cat’s, Twitter page to produce a morphed image of his head getting big with the tagline “Me? A named storm? Just don’t tell @palmerston and @Gladstone!” (who are the cats at the Foreign Office and the Treasury). However, since then, it is possible that number one on that list may be coming sooner than anyone thought as over the next three days, vast parts of the UK are under weather warnings. These are the warnings just for Wales from today (Monday) until Wednesday
Monday: “A spell of very strong westerly winds is likely during Monday morning, probably peaking around or just before the busy travel period”
Tuesday: “Strong winds with gusts of 55-60mph, perhaps reaching 70mph in some places, are possible on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning”
Wednesday: “Strong winds with gusts of 55-60mph, perhaps reaching 70mph in some places, are possible on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning”
And all of this is before Irma crosses the Atlantic
At some point this evening, Caribbean time, the Leeward Islands are going to get whalloped by Hurricane Irma which at the time of writing (1200 EDT, September 5th 2017) has a central pressure of 931mb and winds of 180mph. It will take a day to reach the other side of the Leeward Island, skirt Puerto Rico, pass between the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic , skirt the coast of Cuba and then enter the Gulf of Mexico all as a Catergory 5 hurricane (and seeing what happened with Harvey I wonder if the proposed Catergory 6 may be needed.
But then, if that wasn’t bad enough by Saturday those same Leeward Islands are likely to get hit again, this time by a potential Catergory 2 Hurricane Jose leading to a potential double whammy in an island chain that really cannot afford a single hit, let alone a double hit
And yet all the time President Trump resolutely declares time and time again, as in this interview from 2016
What I think a lot of people, especially Americans, fail to understand is that weather moves. Well, living in the UK we are more than aware of the fact that weather moves and myself especially, living on the western coast where most weather systems make their first impact.
So the fact that the National Hurricane Centre believes that Cindy is (to misquote Monty Python) “an ex tropical storm” and therefore no longer deserves their attention is when I sit up and say “Right, Cindy, where are you off to next?”
As things stand at the moment, Cindy is centred on the border between Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland and might be just be over Washington DC as well and will move eastwards over the course of today crossing Delaware and New Jersey (and please do not get me started on the song) before going into the Atlantic. From there we go to the Met Office to see where they think she will go and the general answer is pretty much due east, however by Tuesday she has a disagreement with herself and splits into two. One part gets combined with a low pressure system centred around Greenland (and gives that country a bit of a drenching) whilst the other part heads towards the Bay of Biscay with it’s trail of fronts crossing Cornwall.
She hangs around there for bit and then decides to invade sending a belt of heavy rain over the Isle of Wight, Kent and then into the North Sea where she then comes back and dumps a shedload of rain onto the northern Midlands and the north west of Britain before heading into the North Sea and bothering Denmark. So as you can see, yes, you Americans can say goodbye to Cindy, but we Europeans cannot just yet!
and can be summarised best by the sort of reaction that a Big Brother housemate displays when they are told that they are two timing with someone’s girlfriend, but there are times when common sense regarding heatwaves just goes out of the window. Take a look at this map which shows the forecast highs for tomorrow (Tuesday, June 20th 2017)
That map indicates that the temperature in my nearest town of Aberystwyth will be as warm as the eastern coast of England, so kindly explain why North East Lincolnshire council has this on their website How to stay safe in a heatwave and yet when it comes to Wales the following is announced “Heatwaves in Wales do not exist”. Yes, that’s correct, according to the Welsh Government heatwaves do not exist in Wales. Well, it just so happens that the Welsh Assembly is meeting tomorrow in Cardiff Bay (forecast maximum tomorrow: 84°F) and I am tempted during the meeting tweeting every single AM asking “Could you ask the minister if Wales is experiencing a heatwave? #obviousquestion” and would like to know if people would be interested in helping me out in this?
Well, here in the UK similar accusations have been labelled against our news channels for being too “London Centric” and nowhere is this more apparent when Britain experiences warm weather. According to the forecasts generated by the Met Office, London is going to reach (over the next few days) no lower than 57°F at night and as high as 86°F during the day and remaining will into the seventies for the next week or so, which as you might expect has the media reaching for the “Phew, What a Scorcher!” headline files.
There is however, one tiny hiccup in this, here the forecast high over that same period is 68°F with a low of 54°F (warm, yes, but nothing like as warm as in London) and then increasing to 72°F on Wednesday and Thursday before returning to more normal levels (low 60’s) by next weekend, and this is a problem that I have had to deal with for ages and ages and ages. Every time something happens in London it gets splashed about the media and we, on the coast of Wales say, “I’m sorry, London, are you sure EVERYONE is getting this?”. Therefore when you see reports of people, sunbathing on the southern coastal resorts of Brighton, Hove, Bournemouth and places like that, just remember that’s only 5% of the entire population sweltering whilst the rest are carrying on as normal