First named storm Abigail slams into the UK

Abigail – the first named wind storm to hit the UK and Ireland – whips up hurricane-force gusts over Scottish Islands.

Whitehaven, Cumbrian coast, England in rough seas
The Cumbrian coast is used to being battered by high seas [EPA]

Just as hurricanes and typhoons are named, large and violent North Atlantic storms will now also be identified. 

In a joint venture between the UK Met Office and the Irish Met Service, Met Éireann, cyclones that “have the potential to cause ‘medium’ or ‘high’ wind impacts on the UK or Ireland” will be named.

Abigail – the first named wind storm affecting the UK and Ireland – whipped up hurricane-force gusts over the Scottish Islands on Thursday night.

In the Western and Northern Isles of Scotland, gusts of up to 135km/h, and lightning strikes, hit power supplies and closed all schools on Friday.

The strong winds combined with high tides inundated coasts and causeways.

Widespread flooding was reported in western Scotland, and powerful winds over the Forth Road Bridge, outside Edinburgh, caused its closure to high-sided vehicles.

Energy supplier SSE Power Distribution said engineers were working to restore power to about 2,000 customers in the Western Isles of Lewis and Harris. Scottish police reported a number of trees down across Dumfries and Galloway, in the southwest mainland, and there was disruption to some west coast rail services.


UK Met Office Chief Forecaster Paul Gundersen said: “With wind gusts reaching 115km/h widely across the warning area and with gusts possibly as high as 145km/h in exposed locations, there is the potential for disruption to transport and power supplies.”

In addition to the Scottish Islands, mountain tops have felt the biggest gusts of wind. Cairngorm reported 163km/h, Great Dun Fell in the English Pennines recorded 161km/h, and Capel Curig in Wales was battered by 126km/h.

Plymouth, the city in southwest England from where Pilgrims on the Mayflower set sail, was belted by 104km/h on Friday morning.

Such a big storm draws in cold air as it passes and the wind turns to a northwesterly direction. After a prolonged mild spell over the UK and Ireland, this will introduce a shocking return to the reality of a much colder, but nearer normal, November.

Further rain is to come, amounting to some 50mm in southwest Ireland and 80mm in the Scottish Highlands, where much of it will fall as snow. The Cairngorm range could be covered by 40cm of fresh snow. The Welsh and English hills may also catch 30mm and again, the first snows of the season are likely in the hilltops.

The next significant storm likely to hit northwest Europe will contain the remnants of hurricane Kate. In line with existing convention, it should be called “ex-hurricane Kate” rather than “Barney,” the next name on the list.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies