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Severe windstorm to sweep across Europe Thursday

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Vincent AF//Flickr

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Vincent AF//Flickr


By Chris Scott
Chief Meteorologist
@ChrisScottWx
Thursday, December 5, 2013, 6:55 AM

A rapidly deepening low pressure system will slam into the UK on Thursday and sweep quickly across the North Sea into the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany. Travel disruptions are likely and significant damage is possible with northwesterly winds which could gust in excess of hurricane force.

This fierce storm is quickly developing to the south of Iceland. The central low pressure will drop rapidly as it races along the jet stream passing north of Scotland on Thursday morning.

An unusual aspect of this storm is the track. Most low pressure systems that deepen this quickly tend to move with a trajectory north of due east. However, this system will move almost due east, even ‘digging’ slightly south as it explodes in intensity. It will be centred near the Baltic Sea by Thursday evening, spreading severe gales into Germany and Poland.

Over a 24 hour period, the central pressure of the depression will drop by nearly 40 mb. In meteorological circles, a storm exhibiting this type of explosive development is referred to as a ‘bomb’ and is always associated with strong winds.

Sea-level pressure chart for 0000 Thursday showing the depression developing near Iceland. Courtesy WeatherBell.

Sea-level pressure chart for 0000 Thursday showing the depression developing near Iceland. Courtesy WeatherBell.

Sea-level pressure chart for 1200 Thursday showing the depression rapidly deepening as it approaches the coast of Norway. This is likely to be the time of peak winds across northern and eastern England. Courtesy WeatherBell.

Sea-level pressure chart for 1200 Thursday showing the depression rapidly deepening as it approaches the coast of Norway. This is likely to be the time of peak winds across northern and eastern England. Courtesy WeatherBell.

Sea-level pressure chart for 0000 Friday. The depression moves into the Baltic Sea while gales spread across Germany and Poland. Courtesy WeatherBell.

Sea-level pressure chart for 0000 Friday. The depression moves into the Baltic Sea while gales spread across Germany and Poland. Courtesy WeatherBell.

IMPACT

Aside from blizzard conditions in the Scottish Highlands, the chief impact from this storm will be wind.  Thursday is guaranteed to feature strong winds – the question is how strong. 

A troubling sign is the strength of the northwesterly low-level jet of air which will race across Scotland and northern and eastern England on Thursday.  At a pressure level of 900 mb (approximately 3000 feet), computer models project a wind speed of nearly 100 mph.  If enough cold air is fed into this storm, gusts close to this figure could be realized, especially in the Highlands, Pennines and North York Moors.  Even the more probable wind gusts of 65-75 mph will disrupt transport and cause some structural damage due to fallen trees.

Wind speeds at the 900 mb (3000 ft) level. A ribbon of strong west and northwest winds near 100 mph (dark red) is seen running from the Firth of Forth down through East Anglia. Courtesy WeatherBell.

Wind speeds at the 900 mb (3000 ft) level. A ribbon of strong west and northwest winds near 100 mph (dark red) is seen running from the Firth of Forth down through East Anglia. Courtesy WeatherBell.

By Thursday afternoon, the strongest winds will move into the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany. Due to the large area of northern Europe which will be affected by this storm, disruptions to air travel are likely. .

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