Storm Hannah or no Storm Hannah?

That is the question.

And the answer from the Met Office is no, not this weekend.  Which left many people (including us) feeling quite confused as we read headlines like “Hell storm Hannah” and “Britain to be battered by Storm Hannah” in some national and regional news.

This weekend was wet and windy and the Met Office issued several wind, rain and snow warnings for many parts of the country.  These warnings highlighted the impacts the weather would bring, such as the potential for flooding.  However there can often be a fine line between whether a storm should be named or not and on this occasion, the low-pressure system did not meet the criteria to become a named storm.

So what are the criteria for naming storms?

First, we consider the weather – how strong are the winds going to be? How much rain or snow is forecast and over how many hours?  We then look at additional factors that can influence the impacts from the weather, such as the time of day or time of year – wind gusts of 60 mph in September when trees are still in leaf may have more damaging impacts than the same wind strengths in February, when trees are bare.

The Met Office and Met Éireann started jointly naming storms in 2014 with the aim of raising awareness of the potential impacts of severe weather in Britain and Ireland.  In its fourth year running, the project has been very successful in quickly communicating the weather forecast to people, allowing them to plan and prepare for severe weather before it hits.  Especially in the age of social media, a trending storm name e.g. #StormGareth can be a very powerful tool in quickly letting people, our partners and the media know severe weather is on the way.

Every year we publish the list of storm names in advance and it is perhaps understandable that some might be tempted to ‘jump the gun’ and name a weather system ‘early’, but this can cause confusion – particularly if as in this case it turns out there is no named storm.

When the Met Office or Met Éireann officially names a storm we will announce this on twitter, highlight the storm on the homepage of our website and include it in our video broadcasts which can be viewed on our weather app.  So next time you aren’t sure whether or not a storm is on the way, please check here!

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