Devastating storms which batter Britain and wreak havoc now easier to predict, claim Manchester weather experts

By Matt Scrafton

Devastating storms like the one that battered Britain in 1987 causing £1billion of damage are now easier to predict, according to Manchester’s leading meteorologists.

Scientists from the University of Manchester, along with colleagues from Reading, Leeds and the US, have been able to garner a better understanding of how storms develop.

The research, led by Professor David Schultz, is published along with its findings in the journal Weather and Forecasting.

Professor Schultz said: “Our findings are significant because they tell us exactly where we can expect these winds and give forecasters added knowledge about the physical processes that are going on to create this region of strong winds.”

The Great Storm of 1987, which is perhaps best known for catching out weatherman Michael Fish, left a trail of destruction.

Winds of up to 120mph swept across southern England and northern France, killing 22 people and causing approximately £1billion of damage.

According to the research, these types of storms are characterised by severe gale-force winds, known as sting jets.

He added: “Sting jets are these regions of strong winds that tend to occur to the south and south-east of the low centre at the end of the tail of the front.

“These winds are generated from a descending motion from air that is several kilometres above the surface to the north and north-east of the depression.”

The researchers took to the skies during their research to analyse a developing storm, measuring the strength and direction of the winds.

“The irony is that the winds are strongest in the cyclone where the front is weakening most intensely,” Professor Schultz concluded.

Picture courtesy of Slawek Puklo, via Flickr, with thanks.

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