Skip to content

Storm Of The Century? Don’t Be Silly, Met Office

February 10, 2020

By Paul Homewood



Storm of the century? Storm in a teacup, more like!


Britain is facing further mayhem over the next 48 hours in the wake of Storm Ciara which battered Britain with winds of up to 100mph causing widespread flooding and travel chaos.

Hundreds of flights were grounded, motorways and main roads shut and trains cancelled and delayed in the wake of a storm that threatens further disruption.

The Met Office warned that ‘exceptional’ gusts of up to 70mph would strike again on Monday and issued snow and ice warnings for large swathes of northern England and almost all of Scotland. The south of England will also be hit for a second day by heavy winds.

Gusts of 97mph were recorded at the Needles off the Isle of Wight while Manchester Airport was buffeted by winds of up to 86mph.

Helen Roberts, a senior meteorologist at the Met Office, said that Storm Ciara threatened to be the worst this century, rivalled only by the 19th December 2013 storm that caused widespread power cuts.

“It’s definitely the biggest storm in seven years and in terms of area affected it’s probably the biggest this century,” she said. 


As usual the Met Office have exaggerated the power of the storm by using gust speeds at exposed headlands and the like:



The Needles are tall lumps of rock off the coast of the Isle of Wight, and nearly always appear near the top of wind speed lists. Similarly with Capel Curig and Lake Vyrnway, both high up in Snowdonia, and Aberdaron, at the top of cliffs at the tip of the Llyn Peninsula.

The Needles


The wind speeds recorded at these places bear no resemblance to those at places where people actually live and travel.

The Met Office don’t even seem to have bothered listing representative lowland and inland sites, something they used to in the past. But I have pieced together a cross section from the Met Office:



ScreenHunter_5524 Feb. 10 13.31

ScreenHunter_5523 Feb. 10 13.28


I have picked Bournemouth because of its proximity to the Isle of Wight and coastal position, and Manchester (Rostherne) where a high gust was recorded at the airport.

Top gusts reached 60mph in Manchester and 54mph in Bournemouth. Sustained wind speeds however ranged between 31 and 34mph at the three sites, putting them into the Near Gale category:



I notice that the Met Office is still forecasting ‘exceptional’ gusts of up to 70mph today. I presume they mean gusts of that today will be few and far between, rather than meaning that a gust of 70mph itself is “exceptional”!


In fact the Met forecast is for sustained wind speeds of between 20 and 25mph at worst for inland sites, and up to 30 mph for coastal sites with the exception of Lands End and the Western Isles. In other words a Fresh Breeze for most of the country:



So what about this nonsense about the “Storm of the Century”?

If this meant to be the 21stC, all I can say is the Met Office must have a very good crystal ball! But if they mean the last 100 years, the claim is patent nonsense.

In fact we only have to go back two years for claims of 100mph winds, when Eleanor blew by:




Two years before that, the Telegraph absurdly claimed “record breaking winds” from Imogen, which reached 96mph on the Needles.


ScreenHunter_3609 Feb. 08 17.25


And in 2013, the St Jude’s Day storm saw winds of 99mph on the Needles:



As the Met Office rightly pointed out, that storm was not in the same category as the Great Storm of 1987. Nor was it in the same league as the Burns Day storm in 1990, when even inland sites across a wide swathe of England experienced gusts of between 80 and 90mph. 


Finally, a look at the Met Office page for record gusts at low-level sites shows that every district has seen gusts of 100mph and over since 1969. Some are exposed sites, such as the Needles and St Bees, but most are genuine, representative sites.

All the records, bar one, were set prior to 2000:



This episode highlights how the Met Office has lost all sense of objectivity, and instead are intent on hyping every bit of bad weather to play to their climate agenda.

  1. Peter F Gill permalink
    February 10, 2020 4:28 pm

    As I have said elsewhere in the old days the delta for climate change used to be 30 years and I would argue for a longer period for the delta say 60 years to fully accommodate things like the PDO. I pointed out that these days climate change seems to be inferred in a matter of days which some folk have corrected to a matter of hours. Hubert Lamb must be rolling over in his grave!

  2. Saighdear permalink
    February 10, 2020 4:44 pm

    Aye to the hills, …… but from whence doth come

    Just don’t be living in the Yorkshire Teacup OR the Teviot around Hawick.
    DID YOU know that both places have something else in common besides featuring in this weekend’s news? – both have an element in that Brown water brew known as T – but it’s NOT funny really.. As for storm of the Century? maybe – it’s only 20 yrs Old.
    Here in N Scotland, meantime, we have had too much rain since October and fields are not so much Underwater as in the water.. Never seen nor heard of that before – surprisingly the High level rivers aren’t causing much trouble ( or the local Media isn’t interested over weekends.

    • Dave Ward permalink
      February 10, 2020 6:24 pm

      “As for storm of the Century? maybe – it’s only 20 yrs Old”

      Exactly what I was about to say – but, let’s face it, “Century” sounds much more scary than “20 years”…

    • Bill Jamieson permalink
      February 11, 2020 6:38 am

      The partial collapse of a property built adjacent to the River Teviot in Hawick would have been caused by scouring of the foundations which, being under water, had most likely not been inspected since it was built 200-250 years ago – the owner more or less acknowledged this in an interview on BBC Scotland news last night. That the collapse could be filmed from a nearby footbridge suggests that the flow in the Teviot had not reached the magnitude of a 1 in 100 years event.

  3. Neil Beresford permalink
    February 10, 2020 4:49 pm

    The needles wind sensor always puts up a ridiculous reading.if you check the weather stations through the solent on the chimet and bramblelnet weather stations you’ll see a more representative dataset for the area.

  4. Michael Adams permalink
    February 10, 2020 4:56 pm

    I was up in North Wales, as I said earlier, in 1997. I thought I remembered 111 mph as the high along the Llyn Peninsular, It turns out, per the records, 112 mph was the speed at Aberdaron. At 18.00 on Christmas Eve power was lost, even in the village pub, and didn’t come back on until about 16.00 on Boxing day from memory. It was a Christmas to remember as you can imagine. Certainly there was plenty of wind, much worse than yesterday’s I would say. The usual flooding, felled trees and building damage occurred but they are used to that up there and life returned to normal for most of us pretty quickly. Thankfully the pub remained unharmed and we went there on Boxing Day night to celebrate our salvation. The locals though had not let a bit of wind deter them and I learnt that they were faithfully supping their ale by torchlight through this period. No drama.

  5. MrGrimNasty permalink
    February 10, 2020 6:06 pm

    Obviously this article strikes the same vein as my comment yesterday, and I’ll just reiterate I am on the coast and use the Rowridge (IOW) transmitter – which was why I mentioned the always aberrant Needles reading. Max gust here was 60mph, 39mph sustained. This was nothing like as strong as many storms in recent years, the strongest guests were hardly even audible indoors.

  6. Ian Magness permalink
    February 10, 2020 6:15 pm

    Another wonderful piece of analysis Paul, thank you.
    A small point (and not wishing to detract from the excellence of your article in any way) but Lake Vyrnwy is in northern mid-Wales, not Snowdonia. Further, whilst it is pretty exposed near the top of the Cambrian hills, the lake level is only at about 1,000 feet above sea level. Very nice place to visit, by the way and the Lake Vyrnwy Hotel has breathtaking views down the lake.

  7. saparonia permalink
    February 10, 2020 6:24 pm

    I remember being dragged to school when I was about 6 or 7, crying because our umbrellas broke including mine (that had budgies on it). I’m 66 this month. I also remember one summer in the shut down week when we went to Skeggy for a caravan holiday and the thing was swaying all over and rain beating down on it, and it had those little gas lights in that kept going out. My dad was so upset because it was his only holiday except for Christmas, he was a turner in Sheffield. And the snow!! it was marvelous, there was one year when I was still a child when my dad had to dig us out of the front door of the house and when we got out we found it was a huge drift and the back garden was only half an inch deep. We used to get horrendously exciting thunderstorms and wind that used to blow my shed roof off, but they’re all piddly pathetic things lately, (I’m sorryif I’m tempting providence here). The guys at the Met office must be from an alternate reality if they genuinely think the weather is worse now, they definitely look old enough to know they are putting out bad data, or perhaps they live in the South and we all know that southerners are softies.

    • Dave Ward permalink
      February 10, 2020 7:15 pm

      “There was one year when I was still a child when my dad had to dig us out of the front door of the house”

      saparonia – I’m sure you’re familiar with this sketch:

    • February 11, 2020 7:45 am

      Saparonia – You are spot on!

  8. bluecat57 permalink
    February 10, 2020 7:25 pm

    Which century?

  9. donald penman permalink
    February 10, 2020 8:50 pm

    I don’t even trust the Met Office to provide accurate data I think we are going the same way as Australia and are adjusting our data , the Met Office are hiring only climate activists in my opinion.

  10. February 10, 2020 8:51 pm

    The North Sea Flood in 1953 took 2,500 lives in England Scotland Netherlands Belgium and at sea:
    Instead of wailing and gnashing of teeth about CC™ in those days they set about “… major rethinking of coastal defences, weather prediction and warning systems …”, a rational response that seems quite beyond current incumbents.

    • February 10, 2020 8:54 pm

      I forgot to add that the atmospheric CO2 concentration at the time was around 310 ppm.

    • dennisambler permalink
      February 11, 2020 11:51 am

      Nowadays they abandon coastal defence and say they have to let the “rising sea levels” do their worst.

      “The great storm of 1859”
      Thousands of storms have pounded the Welsh coast over the years, but none of them was wilder, more magnificent or more deadly than the great storm of 1859.

  11. February 10, 2020 9:21 pm

    Might help if they stopped giving “storms” (i.e. a bit of wind and rain) silly names. Wish they’d grow up. Once upon a time we had weather. Now we have hysteria. I’m in far north of Scotland, as far as can go without falling off is how I normally describe it, nothing much happening here but weather is normally fairly temperate compared with further south. Hope that’s not tempting Providence as gritters were out this evening.

    • dennisambler permalink
      February 11, 2020 11:54 am

      The naming of storms was introduced to be part of the propaganda offensive. Future headlines will be saying “the number of named storms has increased dramatically in the last xyz years”.

  12. February 11, 2020 7:41 am

    The Met Office seems to have caught the same disease as the BBC – ‘exaggeration is the watchword, so let’s bring some fear to the masses and let them see that their perception of the truth is way out of line with what we want them to believe’. I too remember the floods of 1953, and indeed the winter of 1947, when we were fortunate (?) to have plenty of German prisoners of war who came every day and dug our house out of the snow and enabled my father to go to work and my siblings to go to school (no, the schools didn’t close just because there was 5ft of snow on the road through to our village in South Yorkshire). To be claiming anything as the worst of the century when we have only been in this century for a fifth of its span is being rather fanciful in my opinion.

  13. HREF permalink
    February 11, 2020 9:09 am

    The Met Office weather station at the Needles is on top of a brick building within the Needles Old Battery…this from the Victorian Forts data sheet…”It is a barbette battery built on the projecting point of the chalk ridge above the Needles Rocks, at an elevation of 254 feet above sea level. “

  14. It doesn't add up... permalink
    February 11, 2020 12:07 pm

    The Met Office were right about one thing. The weather system had a continental scale, covering much of Europe, and generating surplus wind energy that caused electricity prices to go negative across much of it too. No system of interconnectors can solve that.

    See for example here:

  15. Gerry, England permalink
    February 11, 2020 1:39 pm

    You can’t help but notice the difference between the coast, inland and even London if you look at the wind speed layer on the models on ventusky. There is probably a difference with high ground but I tend to only look at my SE corner of the country.

    If you read Jo Nova’s excellent Down Under site then you will be aware that the Australian records are basically worthless now. The Met O is working its way down with dodgy sites for records and parking ice cream vans near by.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: