The forgotten storm of the 9th of January 2015

If you look you’ll find very little written about the storm force winds on the night of Thursday and Friday the 8th and 9th of January 2015 across the north of Scotland. When I say storm I really do mean storm, because a storm in these enlightened days seems to be a gusts to storm force, rather than a mean wind speed in excess of 48 knots or more which is the strict meteorological definition of what constitutes a storm. I can’t say that I noticed the events of that night either, living as I was in mid-Devon. It does get a very small mention in the Wikipedia list of European windstorms for 2015, apparently the Berlin institute of Meteorology named it low Elon and it went onto say this about it:

A gust of 113 miles per hour (182 km/h) was recorded in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis – the strongest gust since the station first began recording in 1970.

Wikipedia – List of European Windstorms

It was caused by a rapidly deepening depression that tracked from west to east along the 59° line of latitude. There was a intense anticyclone across Spain and pressure was very reluctant to fall south of 53° north which resulted in a tightening of the westerly flow north of 56° north as you can see in the animation below.

Charts courtesy of the UKMO

I’m sure if it happened at the end of 2015 rather than the start the Met Office would have immortalized by giving it a ridiculous name such as Erick or Daphne. So I’m going to retrospectively claim it for blighty and name it the Forgotten storm purely because it happened across the northern half of Scotland where relatively few people live and nobody really cared. The Forgotten storm may have been small in size but in my opinion it was as powerful as any storm named since, and possibly the most severe in the UK since the Braer storm of January 1993.

Wind Speed Analysis

Here’s an analysis of the highest gusts for the 24 hours around the storm.

Highest gust analysis (MPH)

As you can see the highest gust of 113 MPH was at Stornoway at 03 UTC on the morning of the 9th, closely followed by the 110 MPH guts at the Loch Glascarnoch AWS. It’s a shame I don’t have a complete record for Altnaharra because the gusts there may have been just as high. It wasn’t just the exceptionally high gusts either, mean wind speeds were equally as high. The 77 MPH (67 kts) 10 minute mean speed at Stornoway where hurricane force 12.

Highest 10 minute mean speed analysis (MPH)
Highest Gusts (kts)

Station Plots

The 60 knot mean from Loch Glascarnoch with gusts to 96 knots shows the strength of the winds across Ross-shire.

Loch Glascarnoch
Stornoway
Wick

Tree damage

Wind damage just to the north of Strathpeffer on the south facing slope of Ben Wyvis.
Courtesy of Google Maps.

The image above clearly shows the damage done by the Forgotten storm which occurred on the south facing slopes of Ben Wyvis just to the north of Strathpeffer. I would have liked to include more aerial images but Google maps have recently updated a lot of the tiles that make up the map in this area, so many of the fallen trees that had been blown down by the storm have now been cleared away. In the latest Google aerial view of part of the Cat’s back immediately to the south of the village, only a small patch of trees flattened by the storm remain, the rest having been cleared.

Courtesy of Google Maps.

I couldn’t find very much about the damage caused by the Forgotten storm either in the Weather magazine or the wider internet, other than reports in the local press that there was widespread power disruption caused by the storm bringing down pylons and poles.

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