Storm Ciara on course to bring heavy rain and damaging winds across Ireland and U.K.


A storm system developing in the North Atlantic is expected to bring very strong winds and heavy rain across Ireland and the entire United Kingdom through the end of the weekend. The UK Met Office named it Ciara on Wednesday, February 5, 2020. This is the third named storm of the 2019/20 European windstorm season which started in September.

Unsettled weather is expected to develop across Ireland and Northwest Europe this weekend, Met Eireann — the Irish Meteorological Service said February 5.

"The change will occur as very cold air sweeps out of Canada into the North Atlantic creating a sharp temperature contrast in the atmosphere over the ocean. This temperature contrast will result in the intensification of the jet stream over the North Atlantic, which will drive vigorous areas of low pressure towards Ireland," the office said.

"Ciara is forecast to be a vigorous Atlantic storm system with an expansive wind-field. Numerical Weather Prediction Models project the center of the storm to track close to northern Scotland with a minimum central pressure of around 940 hPa at lunchtime Sunday. There is a growing consensus that Sunday will be an extremely windy day across Ireland and the UK with widespread heavy rain, squally showers and with gales or storm force winds around our coasts."

The animation below shows the evolution of the jet stream over the coming days:

Animation courtesy Met Eireann/ECMWF

Wind gusts are predicted to reach 80 to 97 km/h (50 to 60 mph) across many inland areas of United Kingdom, with the strongest gusts expected to reach 130 km/h (80 mph) in exposed locations, the UK Met Office said.

A Yellow National Severe Weather warning for wind has been issued, covering the whole of the U.K. and will be in force from 18:00 UTC on Saturday evening, February 8, and all day Sunday, February 9.

The office warned that Storm Ciara may cause disruptions that can affect power and transport services across many portions of the U.K. Damages are also likely due to heavy downpour and harsh winds.

"An extremely strong jet stream flowing from North America will be steering a succession of low-pressure systems towards the U.K. at least into the middle of next week," said Neil Armstrong, a chief meteorologist with the Met Office.

"The relative predictability of this pattern has provided an early warning and has given us the certainty to be able to name this storm four days ahead."

Prior to the storm's arrival, high pressure will dominate on Thursday, February 6, bringing fine weather conditions to much of the U.K., with frost and fog likely in several areas.

On Thursday morning, fog may be slow to clear, but rain and breeze are expected by Friday, February 7. 

Saturday will be relatively dry for most of the country prior to the arrival of further intensifying winds and rain from the west in the evening, ahead of the storm.

Saturday will be a relatively dry day for much of the UK before further strengthening winds and rain arrive from the west in the evening ahead of Ciara.

In the wake of the storm, conditions will remain unsettled across the UK, it will turn colder with the chance of wintry showers and ice in some parts. It will also remain very windy. 

Featured image credit: UK Met Office

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