The UK’s storms will be named again this coming autumn and winter.
The Met Office and Met Éireann will build on the success of the first season of the Name our Storms pilot scheme, running a second phase through 2016-17.
Last autumn/winter (2015-16) the Met Office partnered with the Irish met service, Met Éireann, to run a pilot naming scheme whereby members of the public suggested names for wind storms with the potential to cause substantial impacts.
The project was largely welcomed with enthusiasm and thousands of names were suggested. As the scheme got underway with Storm Abigail in November the names were quickly adopted by the public, the media, our partners and responder organisations.
Over the course of the 2015/16 season 11 storms were named, and although the pilot scheme only ran for one extended winter storm season, it has already demonstrated that storm-naming can make a big difference to the communication of severe weather.
Derek Ryall, Head of Public Weather Services at the Met Office said “By naming storms more people were made aware of the approaching threat of severe weather and were able to act on this information. A YouGov survey based on the first seven storms showed that 55% of those surveyed took steps to prepare for stormy weather after hearing that a storm had been named. People were therefore better informed.
Gerald Fleming, Head of Forecasting at Met Éireann said “The pilot project last winter helped Met Éireann to prepare Irish citizens for the impact of what was a very active Atlantic storm season.
“There was an immediate acceptance of the storm names through all media, and the severe weather messages were more clearly communicated. This was especially so during a very stormy period over Christmas and the New Year when a number of storms passed in quick succession; the naming helped us to clearly distinguish between them, and delineate their likely impacts”.
The next phase of the pilot project will run for a full year from 1 October 2016 and will be adapted to address some of the challenges we encountered in the first season.
One of these is to include more than one weather type, specifically rain if its impact could lead to flooding as advised by the Environment Agency, SEPA and Natural Resources Wales flood warnings. So in future ‘storm systems’ would be named on the basis of impacts from wind but could also include the impacts of rain and snow.
A new list of names has been compiled using the suggestions submitted through social media last year, combined with Met Éireanns suggested names. This year’s list will begin again at ‘A’ and alternate male/female, starting with a male name. The full list of names is published on the Met Office and Met Éireann websites.
Storms will continue to be named in relation to National Severe Weather Warning Systems of the UK and the Republic of Ireland respectively, and in the UK will be based on the possible impact of a storm rather than a particular threshold. A storm will be named when it has the potential to cause an amber ‘be prepared’ or red ‘take action’ warning.