Storm Ciarán, the third major storm of the current season, looms ominously, preparing to sweep across the United Kingdom. Severe wind speeds, reaching as high as 230 miles per hour, fuel this formidable force, pushing rapidly across the Atlantic’s surface. The anticipated arrival of Ciarán ushers an acute threat of widespread flooding across various regions, especially South Wales and southern England, as the nation braces for the storm’s impact.
In the wake of earlier deluge by Storm Babet, Ciarán’s vestiges could prove devastating. The impending storm spreads a severe threat across the UK, with the eastern sections of Northern Ireland receiving an amber alert as heavy rainfall culminates. As per the warning, as much as between 75 to 100mm of rainfall could be expected on the fateful evenings from Monday through Tuesday.
As Ciarán makes landfall on Thursday, much of the UK is expected to already be obscured by heavy rainfall. The storm will accompany its arrival with particularly strong winds across the south coast of England and Wales. Meteorological experts predict wind gusts ranging up to a maximum of 90mph in more vulnerable, exposed locations.
Powerful rainfalls are set to fall primarily across southern and western areas of the UK, with 20-25mm expected extensively and 40-60mm expected across higher terrains. Steven Keates, the deputy chief meteorologist, expresses apprehension over the capacity of these rainfalls to worsen existing saturations, inciting the potential risk of intensified flooding.
The act of naming storms originates from the United States, a practice dating back to the 1950s. Naming severe weather conditions makes reference easy and aids the public in assimilating weather updates more intuitively. The Met Office of the UK stands testament to this principle, endorsing the strategy for engendering efficient communication over various platforms.
This policy led to the initiation of a campaign entitled “Name our Storms” launched in 2015 by the Met Office and Irish service Met Éireann. The campaign sought names for the upcoming storms from amongst public favourites. The act was subsequently endorsed by the national weather service of the Netherlands and in 2019, they joined the initiative, nominating potential names each year. In most recent developments, the Met Office recognized numerous storms after acclaimed scientists, meteorologists, and persons known for their heroic actions during severe weather conditions.
In its inaugural year, the season’s first storm, Storm Agnes got its name from Agnes Mary Clerke, an eminent Irish astronomer and science writer. The next storm, Storm Babet was named by the Dutch weather agency KMNI, after a woman who made a noteworthy visit to their headquarters, choosing the name of the storm as her own. As we stand at the precipice of the latest storm, Storm Ciarán was named after Ciarán Fearon, celebrated civil servant working with the Department for Infrastructure in Northern Ireland. Tirelessly monitoring river levels and coastal flooding, Ciarán’s contribution towards disaster management is impeccable.
However, as common as it is to name these weather anomalies, only those potentially alarming wind events, which claim the spotlight in media headlines or invite memes on social networking platforms, tend to make the cut based on the severity of their impact. Severity is gauged using colour-coded alerts and only give way to ample or red ‘take action’ warnings, are christened with a respective appellation.
Around the globe, storms are identified differently. For instance, weather agencies across European countries like Portugal, Spain, Luxembourg, France and Belgium incorporate a collaborative system of naming storms. Meanwhile, major weather events like tropical storms, once they attain wind speeds of 40mph, receive a unique name from the National Hurricane Centre. Notably, the naming process of these prodigious storms has been considerably successful, evident in cases like the notorious Hurricane Katrina, which obliterated the south-eastern US in August 2005, a name that rings familiar to ears to date.