How often do the remains of hurricanes affect the UK

Hurricane Katia, currently in the western Atlantic is set to steam due east towards the UK and is expected to reach our shores as a post tropical storm later in the weekend. With it will come the risk of severe gales and heavy rain to parts of the UK. The strength and depth of this September storm is quite unusual, but similar storms that originated as hurricanes have affected the UK in the last 20 years several times.

Hurricane Bill – 2009

You only have to look back as far as 2009 to find a storm that crossed the Atlantic. Hurricane Bill formed on August 15th and reached the UK as a post tropical storm on August 25th, bringing severe gales and heavy rain two days after being downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm.

The path of Hurricane Bill in 2009. The storm crossed the Atlantic as a post tropical storm pushing into the UK and Ireland


Alberto, Gordon and Helene – 2006

In 2006, three post tropical storms reached the UK. Alberto, Gordon and Helene all brought wet and windy weather to the UK. Alberto combined with a cold front to the west of the UK whilst Gordon brought record warm temperatures as tropical air pushed north across the UK, but also strong winds that brought down power lines in Northern Ireland.

Isaac and Leslie – 2000

These two post tropical storms both affected the British Isles as in the year 2000.

Hurricane Karl – 1998

Hurricane Karl made its way to affect parts of southern Britain as a post tropical storm in 1998.

Hurricane Lili – 1996 

Perhaps the most similar storm to Katia was in 1996 when the remains of hurricane Lili pushed across the UK just one day after being downgraded from a hurricane. The post tropical storm ran across Britain on 28th and 29th October. The storm brought gusts in excess of 90 mph, bringing widespread impacts across the UK and causing significant disruption.

Path of Hurricane Lili in 1996

Hurricane Katia – 2011

Katia is currently a category one hurricane off the east coast of the US and will run across the Atlantic through the weekend bringing the risk of severe gales and storm force winds in places later on Sunday and through Monday.

Although it is expected to be windy everywhere, it is uncertain as to exactly which parts of the country will see the very strongest winds and therefore you should stay up to date with the latest forecast warnings.

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3 Responses to How often do the remains of hurricanes affect the UK

  1. Chris Martin says:

    I wonder whether a hurricane has ever remained a hurricane by the time it reached the British Isles? I have read that it is impossible because for a hurricane to function it needs warmer seas and by the time they reach mid-latitudes the way in which they function is different. The BBC web-site says it is impossible. However, I did read that Hurricane Debbie (in 1961) may still (just) have met hurricane criteria when it reached Ireland and I wonder about the ‘Great Storm’ that Daniel Defoe writes about in November 1703 that killed many hundreds and destroyed many houses…. guess the definition may not matter much given that we certainly do get ‘hurricane force’ (Force 12) winds from time to time!

    • Dave Britton says:

      Chris, you are right. In terms of meteorological definitions it is just not possible to get a hurricane or a tropical storm in the British Isles. Of course that does not mean we can not have deep areas of low pressure that bing very strong winds that, as you say, can be described as ‘hurricane force’. Hurricanes need the warmth and humidity of tropical seas to develop and survive. The core of the storm consists entirely of warm air and it’s the release of latent heat as this air rises and condenses into clouds which gives the hurricane its power. Once a storm leaves the tropics this supply of head and humidity from the warm seas is shut off and the systems make the transition to your more normal, although at times still potent, mid-latitude depression as an extratropical or post-tropical depression.

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