The formidable Storm Ciarán has set a course for the United Kingdom, with forecasts predicting potent winds and significant flooding over the coming days. A potent jet stream charging eastwards across the Atlantic at speeds up to 230 mph is giving momentum to the powerful storm.
Southern England and South Wales are particularly at risk from the storm’s irrational temper, with predictions of heavy rains and potent winds. Other regions in the UK are prepped to experience substantial rainfall in advance of Ciarán’s arrival on Thursday. A critical amber weather alert will be enforced for eastern areas of Northern Ireland, as rainfalls of 75-100mm are expected between Monday evening and Tuesday morning.
Coming on the heels of Storm Babet, Ciarán is acknowledged as the third storm of the 12-month season that commences in early September. “Storm Ciarán will introduce forceful winds along the south coast of England and Wales, with probable gusts of 70 to 80mph, even hitting 90mph at exposed locations,” Steven Keates, the Met Office’s deputy chief meteorologist, warned.
He emphasized the risk posed by the imminent heavy rain, with widespread amounts of 20-25mm expected, and up to 40-60mm on higher terrains. This deluge will descend on already drenched grounds, significantly increasing the risk of flooding.
From the 1950s, the U.S established the convention of naming storms, making it easier for the public to understand, discuss, and recall significant weather events. The UK Met Office adopted the practice, asserting that the naming of storms aids their tracking across television, radio, and social platforms.
The naming process was streamlined in 2015 with the introduction of the “Name our Storms” campaign by the UK Met Office and Irish service Met Éireann. Since then, they’ve allowed the public to chime in with their favourite names and joined forces with the Netherlands’ national weather service to add extra variety to the storm-naming pool.
Storms have been traditionally named alternatively by male and female names, but a shift occurred this year to pay homage to remarkable figures in various fields. Contributions to the current year’s list include Ciarán Fearon, a Northern Ireland Department for Infrastructure civil servant, and Agnes Mary Clerke, an Irish astronomer and science writer. The Dutch weather agency has also added the moniker ‘Babet’ to the list, named after a storm-born woman who suggested her own name.
On average, about six to seven named storms befall the UK every year. Yet, names beginning with Q, U, X, Y, and Z are conspicuously absent from the selection. And as storms are named based on their place of origin, some may not bear names from the British, Irish, or Dutch list, but instead carry names from where they were formerly hurricanes or cyclones, such as in the U.S.
A storm is designated as such when it has the power to cause substantial destruction. This tends to occur when one of the country’s weather services believes that it can trigger an amber ‘be prepared’ or a red ‘take action’ warning.
Worldwide, storm-naming practices differ. Some European countries collaborate to name storms, while the National Hurricane Center names tropical storms after their winds reach at least 40 mph. Their names are drawn from six alphabetical lists maintained by the World Meteorological Organisation and applied on a cyclic, six-year basis.
The effectiveness of this tradition is best demonstrated by Hurricane Katrina. Rather than being referred to as the “hurricane that hit the south-eastern U.S in August 2005,” its given name is now universally recognised, underlining the strategic importance and influence of naming storms.