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Strong Breeze Ciara

February 9, 2020

By Paul Homewood


According to the BBC, winds are gusting at over 50mph this afternoon here in Sheffield.





Which is all very strange, because the Met Office is forecasting gusts of only 42mph:




The Met Office also properly show true wind speeds, not gusts, which the BBC now ignore when it gets windy, no doubt to emphasise extreme weather.

Sustained windspeeds of 20mph only qualify as “Fresh Breeze” on the Beaufort Scale:



Wind speeds here in Sheffield peaked this morning, but only at 29mph, in other words a Strong Breeze:




Meanwhile, according to the Telegraph, the Met Office are absurdly calling Ciara the “storm of the century”. Just about every reader’s comment has rubbished the article.




Full round up tomorrow.

  1. jack permalink
    February 9, 2020 8:31 pm

    I’m in North Wales lot of water on the land roads flooded … fences vanished I’m the new owner of two trampolines what a mess everywhere!
    Nothing different than most years here though.
    I’ve been here thirty five years and this is nowhere near the worst.

    • Michael Adams permalink
      February 9, 2020 9:34 pm

      I was in North Wales about 30 years ago when there was a similar storm. If I remember correctly they registered 111 mph somewhere along the Llyn Peninsular, can’t remember where. Plenty of disruption but nothing really unusual according to the locals.

      They haven’t said it yet but I’m waiting for the BBC to tell us due to CC.

  2. Adam Gallon permalink
    February 9, 2020 8:37 pm

    It seems its effects are quite localised, the windmill at Burgh-le-Marsh, has lost its entire crown & sails.

  3. Gamecock permalink
    February 9, 2020 8:45 pm

    ‘A family lean into the strong gusty winds’

    Risky. It might fall down. ‘Gusty’ means strong and VARIABLE wind.

  4. Pancho Plail permalink
    February 9, 2020 8:47 pm

    One thing that becomes clear is that quoting gust speeds is misleading, as it is transient and localised. This became clear when I pointed out on the DT that the peak gust speed in my part of North Cheshire was 37km/h (23miles/h) and another correspondent said he recorded a gust of 65miles/h just 25 miles away and reported that Manchester Airport (15 miles away) recorded 85miles/h.
    I understand that it is the gusts that do the damage, but there seems to be little attempt to put the risks into perspective. Shutting down large parts of the transport system seems an over-reaction.

  5. MrGrimNasty permalink
    February 9, 2020 8:56 pm

    We’re on the coast in the original amber area – promised 80+mph, peak has gone by, 39/60mph wind/gust. The usual suspects did get some 90+mph gusts (Needles etc.) but that is normal for those places in a lively blow, but not representative of what most experienced. Up to 7″ rain (again in the upland places you would expect) was probably more impressive than the wind.

  6. Will Davis permalink
    February 9, 2020 9:07 pm

    Force 9-10 I would guess here in West Sussex, having sailed for many years. Typical Feburary storm. Yes, there are stronger gusts as one would expect. Fortunately not too much rain here.
    Having lived in Sussex during the 1986 hurricane. it is cretainly not the storm of the centuary! Oh well, never mind it may sell a few newspapers.

  7. Pancho Plail permalink
    February 9, 2020 9:10 pm

    Looking at the Met Office forecasts, it would appear that they must use quite a complex algorithm for predicting gust speeds, since there didn’t seem to be any correlation between sustained and gust speeds. So I had a quick look to see if I could find the factors.
    The first thing I came across was from the US National Weather Service in 2008. They started off by saying “Wind gust prediction remains a day to day challenge for forecasters at the National Weather Service (NWS). A search of published journals yields little in the way of literature that would aid an operational forecaster in this challenge. Moreover, little operational knowledge exists on the behaviour, character, or climatological occurrences of the wind gust.”
    However they performed a climatological study and came up with a broad mathematical relationship between sustained speeds and gust speeds and also identified that daytime gusts were broadly stronger than night-time ones. In a nutshell, at higher sustained wind speeds (where damaging gusts are more likely) the relationship is pretty well linear.
    Which brings me back to the Met Office, they use a relationship which is clearly non-linear. So is there something about UK wind that makes it different from US wind?
    As a PS, the study referenced above seems to be using rather out-dated science, as they are making a prediction, and then measuring reality and comparing the two. Everyone knows that this is not modern climate scientific practice.

    • Pancho Plail permalink
      February 9, 2020 9:14 pm

      I should make it clear that my PS was sarcastic. WordPress stripped out my home-made sarc tags.

  8. Dougal McIntyre permalink
    February 9, 2020 9:44 pm

    Hi Paul

    Same thing here in SW Scotland not much greater than 30 mph.

    could have been any of several days here this year.

    Keep up th e good work

    Dougal McIntyre

  9. February 9, 2020 9:49 pm

    I love the title! In Wyoming, anything below 40 mph is a strong breeze. High wind has to be over 65 mph and is quite common. Few get excited by any ot this.

    • Nancy & John Hultquist permalink
      February 10, 2020 2:53 am

      We are in Washington State just east 40 miles of the crest of the Cascade Mountains.
      I agree with ‘Reality Check’ about the 40 mph winds and so on.
      Strong gusts do have the ability to get things moving, such as garbage bins, lawn chairs, and awnings. Then a lesser wind will keep it moving.
      It is customary to keep such things out of the path of the wind, or to tie them down.
      The joke goes like this:
      Visitor to a local: “Does the wind always blow like this?”
      Local: “Well no, sometimes it blows harder.

    • Emrys Jones permalink
      February 10, 2020 9:02 am

      London rarely gets 70mph winds, so they get very excited about it, not realizing it’s common elsewhere. Here in South Wales we expect to see sustained speed of over 70mph about 10 times a year for short periods. “My god that’s a Hurricane!” – I suppose so, technically, just. It’s just windy.

      The gusts do damage because the gust applies pressure, then in the lull following the gust there is suck back, which pulls a dodgy wall out, lifts a roof off, then next gust gets under the roof and tears it away.

  10. auralay permalink
    February 9, 2020 10:07 pm

    The BBC are saying this is the first yellow wind warning to cover the whole country “ever”.
    I am trying to find out when the Met office starting the practice of warning about coloured weather, but my Google-fu seem not up to it. Can anyone enlighten me?

  11. Jason permalink
    February 9, 2020 10:46 pm

    I think your underestimating it. On the BBC website I saw a child’s trampolime which had been blown onto a railway track.

    • tonyb permalink
      February 10, 2020 2:25 pm

      It would have been ore impressive of the wind had blown the railway track onto the trampoline

  12. KenB permalink
    February 9, 2020 11:23 pm

    Storm ‘Kyrill’ of 17-18 January 2007 seems to have been worse, with 11 lives lost in England. It doesn’t take much effort nowadays to seek historic truth from modern fiction!

  13. bobn permalink
    February 9, 2020 11:57 pm

    Its a strong gale. No doubt. But weve had them before, many times (hum 1987, 2014 etc) So its a big wind, there’s damage, seen it before and will see it again. its called nature.

  14. dearieme permalink
    February 10, 2020 12:06 am

    Cambridgeshire here: I remarked to my wife this morning that although it was certainly windy the 80 mph claim was obviously spurious. It turned out that my wife has a personal wind scale – does it make even our neighbours’ yew sway about? (Answer: yes)

    But I grew up on the west coast so I just chortled at the idea that this has been anything out of the ordinary. Lord knows how dismissive the good folk of Orkney must be.

  15. dearieme permalink
    February 10, 2020 12:10 am

    This morning’s Times: “Winds of almost 100mph caused chaos across Britain yesterday …”.

    • tonyb permalink
      February 10, 2020 2:43 pm

      ‘Winds of barely 90 mph’ don’t have the same ring.

  16. Max Stavros permalink
    February 10, 2020 8:00 am

    Compare with the “great” gales of March 1883 (80 to 90 knots between Hull and the Dogger Bank) and January 1884 (sustained 80.2 knots at Sandwick)

  17. ianprsy permalink
    February 10, 2020 8:48 am

    I live just east of the M1, Paul, and can tell you that I’ve never experienced winds like that since moving here about 40 years ago. The noise of it howling through the trees was incredible and the Calder Valley floods tell you all you need to know about the amount of rain. It’s still only weather, though.

  18. sonofametman permalink
    February 10, 2020 8:58 am

    The BBC don’t use the UK Met Office for their forecasts any more. They now use MeteoGroup.
    That’s at least one source of divergence between the Met Office and the Beeb efforts.
    As for the rest…….

    • dave permalink
      February 10, 2020 9:54 am

      In a real storm – one where there is upset and damage in the garden – the wind ‘screams’ around my house. There have been no such noises here, in the Battle area, this winter.

      It HAS been an exceptionally snowy winter in the Northern Hemisphere:

      “Shoke! Scientist warns that increasing winter snow means horror ice-age may have already begun.”

      The BBC could actually get way with that headline; I am open to offers:

      (A) I have five, earned, science degrees; (B) it actually is the prevailing belief that ice sheets start with extra snow in winter which does not fully melt away in summer; (C) increasing ice sheets is the definition of an ice-age; (D) it would be a horror for somebody; (E) I am presenting this idle speculation in the guise of a warning; (F) it is a shocking thought that the ‘snow-flake’ generation might actually be correctly named.

      Of course, if you ask me what my weaseling ‘may’ is for, I will tell you it stands for ‘extremely unlikely!’

  19. Athelstan. permalink
    February 10, 2020 10:32 am

    I think they had 4″ in Swaledale, that’s quite a lot of wet but ‘unprecedented’ – I rather think not..

    In other news, it was a tad breezy.

    “storm of the century” – no, not at all.

  20. john cooknell permalink
    February 10, 2020 11:21 am

    Look it is a glimpse of the forthcoming apocalypse, this is the climate emergency, the end of the world as we know it.

    In other words a bit breezy and not really heavy rain, however I had to put back the vent panel on my greenhouse, as I left it open by mistake.

  21. Dibnah permalink
    February 10, 2020 11:56 am

    Lots of wind yesterday (Sunday 09/02), but the national grid was sufficiently unstable to require the use of open cycle gas turbines and pumped storage during the day.

    • Pancho Plail permalink
      February 10, 2020 9:28 pm

      There were two clear drops in wind generation late on Sunday morning, presumably when a number were shut down due to excess wind.

  22. johnbillscott permalink
    February 10, 2020 1:12 pm

    Part of the problem is Weather Forecast’s is they are now “shows” with presenters, some of whom are regarded as “stars”, this means showmanship and there is nothing like imminent catastrophes for bringing in audiences. No one remembers what they said the following day and they never mention they were wrong. Quite a contrast to the old days – I still remember the BBC reading the Marine Forecast on the old steam radio in a clear monotone voice – with our large fishing fleet good forecasting was essential.

    • tonyb permalink
      February 10, 2020 2:47 pm


      still happens to this day on radio 4 after ‘sailing by’ at a few minutes before 1AM when the BBC World service tales over

  23. Mike Jackson permalink
    February 10, 2020 1:21 pm

    Here in southern Burgundy we have had by a margin the worst 12 hours of wind since we moved here 10 years ago. A neighbour with an anemometer tells me it recorded a peak gust of 126 kph (79 mph) and was stronger than anything that he recalls in at least 40 years.

    I make no other comment on its severity because I’m not qualified, but I don’t think “strong breeze” quite cuts it! Today’s temperature is an unseasonably high 12.5° (though not the highest for this week since I started keeping records) and the local paper is asking when can we expect winter?!

  24. Gerry, England permalink
    February 10, 2020 1:54 pm

    I noticed that on Ventusky 2 of the models had west winds and 2 had southerly winds. Pretty easy to tell at my house since it lies on the east-west axis and the wind was from the south. It did turn a bit towards SW later as the rain was catching the west windows.

    The constant wind speed was strong breeze but the gusts were very strong with roaring through the trees and the gusts usually do the damage.

  25. February 10, 2020 2:04 pm

    The wind here was significant here on Saturday night and most of Sunday that it took off some neighbours ridge tiles, and knocked down the fence panels of another neighbour
    To the south of us lie open flat fields. So we are exposed in that direction.
    I wonder if the BBC is mixing up Sheffield with the whole of South Yorkshire.

    • February 10, 2020 3:59 pm

      also around a wooden horse stable was flung around the fields and ended up on its side
      and a few large trees went over.
      Tree surgeons and roofers seem busy.

  26. Steve permalink
    February 10, 2020 2:06 pm

    Thanks to the exaggerated forecast I had to drive 70 miles home from a dinner instead of staying over on Saturday. Wifey believed the 80mph forecast on the news and she had to be back for work.Next day I had to drive back to see a relative and back again in the gale. It was no worse than bad conditions last year but the car did 10mpg extra with the wind blowing it along.

  27. February 10, 2020 4:05 pm

    Our local Reach plc newspaper has a promo for
    “This Book Will (Help) Cool the Climate by Isabel Thomas and Alex Paterson!”
    aimed at children it contains info onto “how to pester politicians for change”

    I guess other towns newspapers will have the same

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