UK weather: Why this years weather season could have a dangerous difference

Storm Franklin causes flooding across Derbyshire

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In the past week alone, Storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin have all battered the UK, with gale force winds leading to chaos and disruption for residents. Since 2015 the Met Office has been labelling weather systems which meet its criteria with names, after taking inspiration from similar models used in the US.

So far, the UK has been affected by six named storms in the 2021/22 weather season – Arwen, Barra, Corrie, Dudley, Eunice and Franklin.

The first of these (Arwen) took place last November, while the most recent (Franklin) was felt throughout the British Isles on Monday.

A storm is allocated a name based on a combination of both the impact the weather might have and the likelihood of those impacts occurring.

Specifically, the Met Office states a storm will be named when it has the potential to cause an amber or red warning.

Other weather types will also be considered, particularly rain, if its impact could lead to flooding as advised by the Environment Agency, SEPA and Natural Resources Wales flood warnings.

Therefore ‘storm systems’ could be named on the basis of impacts from the wind, but also include the impacts of rain and snow.

How does 2021/22 compare with other seasons?

The most storms recorded in the same season was during 2015/16, when 11 storms were named.

That season was particularly volatile, with nine storms reported before the end of February in 2016.

Meanwhile the fewest number was witnessed in both of the 2016/17 and 2020/21 seasons – five storms.

This season, the UK has already had more storms compared with two of the remaining six years, and is within three of overtaking several more.

Some seasons also recorded storms that were named by other forecasters, such as Storm Malik last month. However these are not officially regarded as UK labelled storms.

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The Met Office has awarded names to weather systems in the following seasons:

  • 2015/16: 11 named storms
  • 2016/17: five named storms
  • 2017/18: eight named storms
  • 2018/19: eight named storms
  • 2019/20: six named storms
  • 2020/21: five named storms
  • *2021/22: six named storms

The 2021/22 season is still ongoing and thus likely to change before a final outcome is confirmed.

Each season, the Met Office compiles a list of storm names in conjunction with Met Éireann – Irish version of the Met Office – and KNMI – the Dutch national weather forecasting service.

Earlier this year, the Met Office asked the British public to send in their suggestions for future storm names.

It received thousands of suggestions, which were used to compile this year’s storm names, plus names put forward by Met Éireann and KNMI.

Names that have yet to be used include Jack, Nasim, Vergil and Olwen.

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