It’s storm season in the UK and after an already very wet winter, Storm Ciara and Dennis have brought record rain levels and heavy flooding across the country. The British are well-known for talking about the weather and this year with such fierce storms already, there’s plenty to talk about.
And with the storms having human names, it sounds like we are talking about someone we know. The Met Office is is the national meteorological service for the UK that provides weather services including short and longer term forecasts. Each year around September, it reveals a list of christian or first names for the upcoming storms. There is one for most letters of the alphabet, with Q, U, X, Y and Z being excluded as it is hard to find names for these.
How are the storms named?
As the British love to think about the weather, the Met Office has invited people to suggest potential storms names – around 10,000 names were submitted last year. The Met Office puts together a final list and releases this in September ahead of the winter storm season. This year’s list started with Atiyah and Gerda, Piet and Willow could be ahead.
Why are the storms named?
It’s not just to help us talk about them. It is believed that naming the storms helps to make people more aware that severe weather could be coming and therefore more likely to be prepared.
When is a storm named?
The Met Office have a warning system to predict when a storm is likely to have an impact on the public. A storm is only given a name when the Met Office believes that it has potential for an amber or red warning.
What are the levels of storms?
The storms levels are represented by a traffic light system based on the likelihood of impact and disruption.
- Yellow – low impact – daily life will mostly be able to continue as normal.
- Amber – potential disruption to daily routines. You may need to consider your travel plans and protect yourself and your property.
- Red – the highest warning level, and fortunately the most rare, but we’ve already had a red warning this year with storm Dennis. It means dangerous weather could lead to major disruption and damage, and even loss of life. This could include widespread flooding, ice and snow that can cut off areas or high winds that can damage property.
How do you know when there’s a weather warning?
The Met Office try to give 5-7 days notice and have full details on their website. However, weather and particularly imminent storms are reported across all media channels – and of course by talking to each other.