St. Stephen’s Day 2013 Storm Erich

The turkey’s now no more than a sorry carcass, while the recycling bin’s full to the brim with waste packaging. We’re all in lazy mode as we wake up to a bright, crisp St. Stephen’s morning, vowing to walk off yesterday’s spuds when you get a chance later on this evening. Well go right now, as there’s one hell of a storm on the way tonight and tomorrow!

This is a serious system, stronger than those storms of late, and one to possibly challenge that of St. Stephen’s Day 1998. Erich, as named by the German Wetterpate group, is rapidly developing and racing towards Ireland, to arrive later this evening. The first rain bands are already affecting western fringes, and will spread eastwards to remaining parts after sunset. Sizeable rainfall and sodden ground could lead to localised flooding overnight, but the real headline looks to be the wind. And lots of it. South to southwesterly winds could top 150 km/h in exposed western and southern coastal districts, with 100-130 km/h gusts elsewhere. Met Éireann have issued a Red Warning for counties in the south, and and an Orange Warning for the rest of the country.

Storm Erich at 1200 GMT, 26 December 2013.
Storm Erich at 1200 GMT, 26 December 2013.

The Airmass RGB satellite image above shows Erich as it was at 1200 GMT today. Overlaid are the ECMWF model surface pressure and 300 hPa wind-fields. This one image shows why Erich is rapidly deepening and heading our way. The surface low (black) is located just under the Left Front Quadrant of the 80 m/s+ (155 knots/288 km/hr+) jet streak (yellow contours). This setup leads to mass upward motion of the air, leading to a lowering of the surface pressure (a bit like holding a vacuum-cleaner nozzle a few centimetres above the floor). As long as this forcing from above is there the pressure will continue to fall at the surface, tightening those isobars and increasing the wind-speeds. Upper dynamics mean that gusts will be stronger with this system than with those of the past two weeks, so take no chances.

The centre of the low will track just off the Donegal coast overnight and continue on over Scotland tomorrow. As it does so winds will veer to a more westerly direction but will continue strong throughout much of the daylight hours Friday, dragging in showers of rain, hail and sleet/snow in off the Atlantic.

Travel should not be undertaken unless completely necessary. Expect delays to flights from the main airports. Stay in touch with our Facebook page for updates by Peter through the night.

Fergal – IWO