As the UK was hit by three large scale weather systems, experts warn that storms could become more frequent in the future, highlighting the need for a better understand of such events.
Between February 16th and 21st, the UK was successively hit by three large scale weather systems: Storm Dudley, Storm Eunice, and Storm Franklin. Following days of intense storms, many parts of the country were flooded, and disruptions were reported. Experts say the storms are linked to climate change, and such storms may become more frequent in the future.
Overview of the storms
On February 16th, the Met Office warned about the impacts of strong winds caused by two storms: Dudley and Eunice. It stated that both storms could cause significant disruption and issued yellow and amber warnings. It further warned that wind gusts could exceed 95mph in coastal areas, and 80mph in inland areas.
From February 16th onward, the UK experienced strong winds across Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales. Storm Eunice caused the UK Met Office to issue red weather warning in Southern England, Wales, the Midlands, London, and the East of England.
On February 20th, the Met Office named Storm Franklin, predicting high winds in Northern Ireland, England and Southern and East Scotland. It also alerted about the potential for some snow and the risk of flooding in low-lying coastal roads.
Storm Eunice caused major disruption in the UK and claimed the lives of 10 people across western Europe. At its peak, more than 1.4 million people were left without power. The storm also had devastating effects in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, and many more countries across Europe.
More than 400 flights from and within the UK were cancelled, the O2’s arena white roof was torn off by the wind, causing all bars and restaurants to be evacuated. The storm caused the fastest wind ever recorded in England with 122 miles per hour on the Isle of Wight and Eunice was one of the most powerful windstorms to impact the country in over 30 years.
Storm Dudley impacted Northern England and Western Scotland. In Scotland, it disrupted the train services following reports of fallen trees blocking lines and damage to overhead wires and signalling faults. All rail services were suspended throughout Friday in Wales.
Dudley also disrupted the air traffic, with Easy Jet having to abort landing to Glasgow due to the storm. The Ferry Operator CalMac cancelled services due to high waves that reached 12 metres high. Along the coast of Devon and Cornwall, damaging gusts close to 100mph hit as the wind strengthened. Inland, the Storms is said to have led to wind gusts of 80mph.
In England, the storm caused power cuts in parts of the North East, North Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumbria. Additionally, the Tyne and Wear Metro was suspended, with engineers deployed in the damaged areas to repair the damages.
Storm Franklin hit a week after the first storms Dudley and Eunice, further causing disruptions and putting pressure on river levels and the soil’s ability to absorb excess water. The storm notably caused tree falling across England, and flooding in Scotland and England. In Wales and England, it caused high waves that crashed against seafronts and a lighthouse. Additionally, dozens of houses lost power following the storm. The storms also caused for the Northern Rail line to be flooded at the Rotherham Station in South Yorkshire, interrupting the traffic. The storms also brought snow in parts of Scotland and England.
England had 185 flood warnings & 2 severe flood warnings as of 7:00am on the 21st February.
Flood risks caused by Storm Dudley, Eunice and Franklin
Following yellow, amber and red weather warnings, the Environmental Agency alerted on the risk of coastal and river flooding due to high precipitations.
Before Storms Dudley and Eunice hit, the Environment Agency alerted from February 15th about the risk of flooding along Severn and Wye. It warned that it could affect homes and businesses along Avonmouth to Gloucester and urged people to take steps to protect themselves and their property, including preparing a bag with important documents, checking insurance and whether they are covered by flood damages, turning off gas, electricity and water, and staying informed about the latest flood situation.
The EA warned that strong winds could lead to large waves and coastal flooding to homes and businesses along Severn and Wye estuaries. In total, across the UK, more than 140 flood warnings were issued. The west of the UK suffered most of the flooding due to the rocky, clay and sandy soils, which absorb less rainfall.
In South Ayrshire, flooding was reported in various areas such as the A713, which impacted the traffic to enter and travel to the University Hospital Ayr. Floods were also reported in Glasgow, Shropshire, England, along the River Ouse in Yorkshire, the River Severn in the West Midlands, in Bewdley in Worcestershire.
Despite record river levels, flood defences protected more than 40,000 properties across England and Wales.
Effective measures put in place across the country to mitigate the impact of the Storms
Major flooding was avoided in Northern Ireland due to effective management of flood risk. The area was still impacted by the flood ahead of Storm Franklin in the Derg Valley, impacting roads, homes and businesses. To mitigate the risk, preventative measures were implemented before Storm Franklin to stop the Drumragh River from bursting its banks.
The success of Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales in minimising flood consequences highlight the need to have accurate predictive tools to be better prepared. To further predict and understand the risk of large flood events, Ambiental’s tool provides accurate and up-to-date data deployed across the UK.
Our flood maps provide accurate and detailed data that allow mortgage lenders, local governments, insurers, and property professionals to make better decisions regarding flood risks. Our technology can create specific flood maps for each client, taking into account different factors such as river levels and soil saturation. For the insurance sector, the data also provides valuable information to set the correct pricing for vulnerable areas, and in determining which areas to insure.
Ambiental’s Climate Suite data products provide analytics and actionable insights for understanding long-term physical risks. FloodScore Climate database equips our clients with the latest climate scenarios and risk assessments for every property.
The high precipitations led to high river levels across the country, increasing the risk of flooding after the Storms. Hence, the risk of flooding was ongoing after the stormed had passed. On February 27th, the UK government issued two more flooding warnings: in River Severn at Severn Ham and in River Severn at Apperley and the Leigh.
The devastating economic effects of the storms
Prominent damages to the power and internet infrastructure were reported, requiring companies to deploy engineers on the ground to repair the damages swiftly. In Cumbria, a wind turbine was destroyed, its blades pulled off and embedded in a field.
A study from the risk modelling firm RMS estimates that insured losses from European countries could be huge. Across all Europe, the three storms caused the death of more than 26 people and led to power outages, and damage to buildings, infrastructure and roads.
Many experts attributed the storms to global warming, explaining that, while the strong winds are not caused directly by climate change, the damage of such storms is exacerbated because of increased rainfall and sea-level rise linked with global warming. Hence, heavy rainfall, flood and storms will become more frequent with global warming. With record-high river levels and wind gusts, the Storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin may be what is to come, increasing the need for predictive technology.
Ambiental is supporting the insurance industry and infrastructure managers to understand storm risks, not only through our flood data, but also now with our new wind risk and tree risk datasets.
Contact Ted Bartholomeusz to learn more about our latest products for the UK and Europe.
T: +44 (0)1273 006904
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