Why do our storms have names?

It might feel like we are having more storms now than ever before, or is it because we are now naming them? Perhaps the act of naming the storms that batter our nation mean we take far more notice of them than we did before.

Many a fierce storm has battered our coastal areas before moving inland, but they have only been named since 2015. The very first storm to be given a name was Abigail, who hit in November 2015. Soon, other storms followed, including Barbara, Desmond and Georgina.

So, why are they given names?

The Met Office made the decision in 2015 to name UK storms like the U.S system of naming hurricanes. When a name is applied something, it is thought that more people pay attention to information and communications regarding severe weather warnings. Communication is deemed more effective when people put a name to a storm. It raises awareness and helps people to take better and faster preventative measures for their safety and that of their property.

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Do we rename storms that start over the Atlantic?

If a storm has already been named, then the UK stick the original name to avoid any possible confusion. Whilst we normally expect storms during the winter, summer storms can also come on pretty strong. You should consider taking preventative measures, such as dealing with overhanging branches or large trees close to your property. It’s sensible to consult a professional before stormy weather strikes. For a Tree Surgeon Bournemouth, visit Kieran Boyland Treecare Ltd

How are the names chosen?

It is the Met Office and the Irish counterpart, Met Eireann who get to decide which name will be used. The names are chosen in alphabetical order and take it in turns between male and female.

What constitutes a storm?

The honour of being given a name is only given to a weather system with winds forecast to reach amber or red warning status. An amber warning means ‘be prepared’ and a red means ‘take action’. Other weather events also receive names, such as those storms that occur in tropical climates like typhoons, cyclones and hurricanes.

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The name-giving started back in 1887 when an Australian meteorologist started to use letters from the Greek alphabet and famous historical names to refer to certain weather events. The method was discontinued on his death but began again during World War II, when storms were given the names of wives and girlfriends to aid communication with pilots. The American National Weather Service adopted the practice in 1953.

The UK thankfully doesn’t experience too many fierce storms, not like the hurricanes and tornadoes of the U.S. and tropical regions. It is rare, but it has happened. In 1953 for example, the North Sea Flood caused a massive storm tide killing more than 300 people. The infamous 1987 storm that was wrongly dismissed by weatherman Michael Fish, caused £1 billion worth of damage and killed 18 people!



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