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Abigail 1, 2 and 3

November 16, 2015
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Guest Post by Neil Catto 





On Friday 6th November The Daily Telegraph had a front page article by Eleanor Steafel; “Storm Abigail’s 70mph winds may put damper on fireworks.”


“Britain’s first named storm could bring 70mph gales and torrential downpours to scupper firework displays this weekend.

Storm Abigail – named by the Met Office following a public consultation – is expected to sweep in from the Atlantic tomorrow.

Revellers could be forced to abandon their fireworks plans as a powerful jet stream arrives from the Atlantic, with predicted wind speeds of 70mph – classed by forecasters as a violent storm.”


So, what did the shipping forecast say?



Abigail 1 Shipping Forecast 

Table 1 shipping forecast for Rockall, Bailey and Hebrides 5-8 Nov 2015


The Met Office were obviously forecasting storm force 10 winds over the weekend 6th-8th Nov




Fig 1 lowest hourly pressure and maximum hourly wind speed Stornoway



With a max sustained wind speed of 33mph (29kts) Abigail 1 was a near gale force 7 and Abigail 2 with 36 mph (31kts) was also a near gale force 7.

Abigail 1 and/or 2 FAILED


The reincarnation of Abigail:

Having failed with the first NAMED STORM of the winter, and hoping nobody would notice, the Met Office ramped up the media with forecasts of gloom, doom and despondence for the next storm also called Abigail. I thought Avril-1 would have been more appropriate. They issued warnings of severe structural damage and severe flood warnings over most the North of the UK.



Fig 2 minimum hourly pressure for N and NW Scotland


With the lowest pressures reaching 983mb at Stornoway and later at Scatsa (Shetland) this was not a particularly low pressure for a UK winter storm.



Fig 2 maximum hourly Wind Speed for N and NW Scotland


Out of the 8 locations, only Benbecula reached Storm Force 10 on the Beaufort scale, but only for 3 hours between 1800 and 2000 UTC with sustained speeds of 56, 60 and 60 respectively.


In summary: A lot of wind about not much. Sorry Abigail you weren’t up to the Met Office forecasts or the media hype.




0 Calm <1 <1 <1 Smoke rises vertically
1 Light Air 1-5 1-3 1-3 Direction shown by smoke drift but not by wind vanes
2 Light Breeze 6-11 4-7 4-6 Wind felt on face; leaves rustle; wind vane moved by wind
3 Gentle Breeze 12-19 8-12 7-10 Leaves and small twigs in constant motion; light flags extended
4 Moderate Breeze 20-28 13-18 11-16 Raises dust and loose paper; small branches moved.
5 Fresh Breeze 29-38 19-24 17-21 Small trees in leaf begin to sway; crested wavelets form on inland waters.
6 Strong Breeze 38-49 25-31 22-27 Large branches in motion; whistling heard in telegraph wires; umbrellas used with difficulty.
7 Near Gale 50-61 32-38 28-33 Whole trees in motion; inconvenience felt when walking against the wind.
8 Gale 62-74 39-46 34-40 Twigs break off trees; generally impedes progress.
9 Strong Gale 75-88 47-54 41-47 Slight structural damage (chimney pots and slates removed).
10 Storm 89-102 55-63 48-55 Seldom experienced inland; trees uprooted; considerable structural damage
11 Violent Storm 103-117 64-72 56-63 Very rarely experienced; accompanied by widespread damage.
12 Hurricane 118 plus 73 plus 64 plus Devastation

  1. November 16, 2015 2:07 pm

    You use the Telegraph for weather stories! It’s form of late is atrocious. This report, by the same author, was an absolute dog’s dinner. I don’t think I’ve ever read such a poorly written piece. You would expect better of the Telegraph

  2. NeilC permalink
    November 16, 2015 3:20 pm

    Yes, I recieved notification of these events a few weeks back, but unfortunately I can’t attend. I often use for up to date jet stream knowledge.

  3. xmetman permalink
    November 16, 2015 3:53 pm

    You came to a similar conclusion to me:

    One thing that I will say in the Met Office’s defence is that you can’t use the winds on land from coastal sites or on islands to compare with wind strengths in the shipping forecast, they will always be invariably lower than those out at sea.

    So don’t just cherry pick the winds from just some land stations. The weather buoy at 60.7°N 2.6°W was reporting a mean of 49 knots at 0500 UTC on the 13th as was the ship BATUKO at 59.3°N 2.8°W, those two observations justifies a storm force 10 for Fair Isle. Finally the wind speed at Lerwick was at gale 8 or 9 for 15 hours or so and was also meaning 47 knots at 0500 UTC, the mean during the hour may well have exceeded that, but without the data I can’t say.

    • NeilC permalink
      November 16, 2015 4:32 pm

      The use of the shipping forecast was to point out that the Met Office were forecasting force 10 winds in seas surrounding many of the islands on the 6th, 7th and 8th. I am not arguing that the winds out at sea may have reached or exceeded strom force 10.

      I can’t find the original land forecasts from the 5/6th which I remember listening to, and mentioning Abigail. As did the Telegraph reporter and confirmed it wasn’t a figment of my imagination.

      The point is the Met Office got the forecast wrong for the weekend of 7/8th there was no Abigail. Then they covered it up by forecasting another storm which they called Abigail (again) later in the week highlighting severe onland structural damage and severe flooding.

      With the second Abigail I was simply pointing out that this storm was considerably less severe than they had forecast.

  4. November 16, 2015 4:17 pm

    I’m no meteorologist, but the people of the Scottish islands certainly did not regard Abigail as anything unusual or worrying.

    The big issue behind this is the pretence that some disaster is imminent with the implication that this is due to “climate change”. The “I” has an article by their (i.e. the Independents) resident enviro-idiot saying that climate change is causing insects to move 30m north and bees to struggle to survive because of climate change: and this rubbish gets press coverage as hard fact!!! That is what is frightening.

  5. November 16, 2015 5:27 pm

    Apparently its “Barney” we have to worry about now!
    The MO have issued a yellow warning for the South of England.
    I expect in will be upgraded to amber.

    • November 16, 2015 5:29 pm

      Sorry I should have said the South of England and Wales!

  6. David Richardson permalink
    November 16, 2015 6:04 pm

    There is no doubt about it every run of the mill storm is over hyped now and I see we are already been warned of Barney as QV says above.

    A casual glance at the Met Office forecast charts (most easily viewed here – shows a fairly unremarkable low centre running across Ireland and exiting around the Humber tomorrow (Tuesday). Of course Barney’s effect will be felt in the southern UK so expect it to cause more problems.

  7. catweazle666 permalink
    November 16, 2015 7:57 pm

    The Met Orifice may have been wrong about Abigail’s wind speeds, but it has sure as hell been wet up here in Yorkshire!

    Strangely, I can’t recollect them mentioning that…

    • November 16, 2015 8:12 pm

      There were warnings (yellow and amber) for rain for the western half of Yorkshire on Sunday, but I don’t know whether that was strictly speaking part of Abigail.

      • November 17, 2015 11:03 am

        And that just illustrates how ridiculous it is to start naming these very minor ‘storms’, or perhaps weather events would be more accurate, in this region. When you descend to this level several weather events merge. It’s going to be a fiasco the Met Office will wish they’d never started, because they’re going to end up looking very foolish.

      • November 17, 2015 11:09 am

        In response to jbenton possibly but do you not think that even this fiasco will help boost metoffice profile – ALL the news outlets are using the terms Barney today. It is an absolute dream success for there marketing department.
        Even bad publicity is good – even if it makes an outlet look overeactive – just ask the Daily Express

      • Brian H permalink
        November 19, 2015 3:05 am

        their marketing

    • November 17, 2015 11:43 am

      It has raised the profile of the MO but may backfire.
      I am having difficulty in understanding the rationale for the naming of these storms. While “Barney” will affect the south, there is apparently another low building to the north (with no name) which may yet cause stronger winds than “Abigail” in parts of Scotland.
      Meanwhile the MO are forecasting more heavy rain this afternoon here with an over 90% probability. We shall see if it produces more rain than the similar forecast for Sunday, which produced none.

      • November 17, 2015 11:46 am

        Just checked. and the forecast is already showing signs of less rain that this morning.

  8. November 17, 2015 4:01 pm

    Well, it has been raining since mid-day, so today’s forecast has been correct so far.
    The problem is, how do i tell (in advance) which forecasts are going to be correct, and which aren’t?
    Any body hear the first episode of Roger Harrabin’s “Changing Climate” on R4 ?
    I had to stop listening when he introduced congress woman Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee (a sceptic) and asked her, “do you accept the theory of evolution”, and received the reply “no I do not”. She also thought the global temperature had cooled by 1 degree in the last 13 years. Obvious inference, all climate sceptics are creationists who don’t know what they are talking about.
    Now, back to the rest of the programme.

    • 1saveenergy permalink
      November 17, 2015 5:54 pm

      Interestingly ‘Horrid Harrabin’ is now accepting much of what we’ve been saying for years – Water a major GHG, Flawed models, The pause…..
      It’s taken him 25 yrs but he’s made a career out of not understanding basic science.

      • November 17, 2015 7:20 pm

        Hmm, I will have to listen to the programme again….

  9. November 18, 2015 10:13 am

    There are now yellow warnings for parts of Scotland and N. England (although the extent appears to be different in the overview and detail maps).
    Actual peak forecasted wind/gust speed of 31/51 mph for my location are stronger that for Abigail.
    I don’t know if this is part of the “Barney” storm or not.

  10. velcro permalink
    November 19, 2015 10:31 pm

    Not many people in Benbecula to experience that 3 hours of Force 10

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