Monday, September 12, 2011

Extratropical Storm Katia pounding Britain and Britain's hurricane history

From Wunderblog: 
Extratropical Storm Katia pounding Britain
Hurricane Katia brushed by Newfoundland, Canada on Saturday, and made the transition from a tropical system to a powerful extratropical storm. Extratropical Storm Katia maintained strong winds of 50 - 65 mph as it crossed the Atlantic, and is now lashing the northern British Isles with high winds and heavy rain. At 1 pm local time, the center of ex-Katia was over northern Scotland, and Malin Head, Ireland on the north coast of Ireland, was experiencing sustained winds of 49 mph. Winds in western Scotland were also high, with Aonach Mor recording sustained winds of 51 mph at 12:50 pm local time. The UK Met Office is warning that wind gusts up to 80 mph can be expected in Scotland today, as well as flooding rains of 2 - 4 inches. Ex-Katia's strong winds will likely cause significant tree damage and power failures across Northern Ireland and Scotland today....

...Britain's hurricane history
Hurricanes that transition to powerful extratropical storms hit the British Isles several times per decade, on average. In September 2006, two major hurricanes named Gordon and Helene transitioned to strong extratropical storms that hit the British Isles. Only once since accurate records began in 1851 has an actual hurricane with full tropical characteristics hit Europe. This happened on September 16, 1961, when Category 1 Hurricane Debbie hit northwestern Ireland. Wind gusts reached 106 mph at Ballykelly and 104 mph at Tiree and Snaefill, and coastal radio stations reported the airwaves were jammed with calls for help from small ships and fishing craft. Eleven people were killed and 50 injured in the storm. The only other tropical cyclone recorded to have hit Europe since 1851 was Hurricane Vince of 2005, which hit southern Spain as a tropical depression on October 11, 2005. Historical documents also suggest a hurricane hit Spain on October 29, 1842.

As reported by UK Met Office forecaster John Hammond in a post on the BBC 23 degrees blog, Britain has been affected at least eight times in the past twenty years by extratropical storms that were once tropical storms or hurricanes. The most recent one was Hurricane Bill of 2009, which hit Ireland on August 25 with sustained winds of 45 mph. Bill was a Category 4 hurricane northeast of the Lesser Antilles five days prior. In 2006, a record three extratropical storms that had once been tropical cyclones hit Britain...MORE