It’s been a complex meteorological picture over the last few days with a number of weather warnings in force across the UK.
A low pressure system crossed the UK last night (Wednesday into Thursday) bringing strong winds to many areas, in particular to East Anglia and Lincolnshire. This system was forecast as much as a week in advance with Met Office National Severe Weather Warnings being first issued for wind and snow on Monday to allow everyone plenty of time to prepare for it.
Because of the way the system developed there was a degree of uncertainty over the strength of the expected winds and precisely which areas would see the greatest impacts, about which we gave regular updates on our website and social media channels through the week.
The warnings were constantly under review to ensure they reflected the expected level of impacts and also whether the low pressure system would meet our storm naming criteria, which in this case it didn’t.
What was easier to forecast was that the system would develop further as it moved off the east coast of the UK into the North Sea and bring very strong winds to north east France and northern Europe. For this reason the French meteorological service, Meteo France, named the system Storm David. Indeed, as Storm David has moved across the near continent it is reported to have led to at least four deaths. Under international naming conventions once the depression had been named by another national meteorological organisation we then also adopt that name.
There are still a number of National Severe Weather Warnings in place for snow and ice, keep up to date with our warnings page on our website for the latest. Further snow showers will affect Northern Ireland, western Scotland and north west England through Thursday and Friday. There is also a risk of ice forming in north east England, Wales and south west England overnight.
By Saturday a ridge of high pressure will move in bringing much brighter and drier conditions to much of the UK before a further front moves in from the south west on Sunday heralding milder temperatures for the start of next week.
Why do we name storms?
We first introduced the scheme to name storms in partnership with Met Éireann in the winter of 2015/16 in a move aimed at helping improve communication of the possible impacts of up and coming severe weather through the media and government agencies. The idea is to ensure the public have the information they need to keep themselves, their property and businesses safe.
The criteria we use is based on our National Severe Weather Warnings service and takes into account both the impact the weather may have, and the likelihood of those impacts occurring.
A storm will, in the main, be named when it has the potential to cause an amber or red warning. When the criteria are met, either the Met Office or Met Éireann can name a storm.
The system has worked so well that other European countries are now following suit and Meteo France have joined with met services in Portugal and Spain to introduce a naming convention of their own hence the naming of the storm last night by them Storm David.
We are really pleased that storm naming has captured the imagination of, and been embraced by the press, media and the public, but it is important that we don’t enter into the world of speculation around when storms will be named. More often than not the impacts from the weather systems affecting the UK will be within the norm for the time of year so it is important that names are used in the right context.
Storms are only ever named by the Met Office, Met Éireann or our partners in Europe. You can subscribe to email alerts for our weather warnings and storm names and you can follow the Met Office on Facebook or Twitter for the latest updates.