U.K. Braces for Hurricane-Force Winds in Worst Storm Since 1990

By | October 25, 2013

Southern England is girding for 90 mile-per-hour winds as the biggest storm since 1990 is forecast to fell trees and damage buildings.

Rain and high winds are predicted to lash the area on the evening of Oct. 27 through to the morning of Oct. 28 as a depression moves in from the Atlantic Ocean, Reading, England- based forecaster MetraWeather said in an e-mail. Sustained wind speeds will probably be more than 45mph, while localized flooding should be expected, particularly in parts of Wales and western England where the ground has become saturated over the past week by heavy rainfall, it said.

The weather system may be the worst since the Burns’ Day storm of Jan. 25-26, 1990, which killed 47 people and had winds of more than 80 mph, according to the U.K. Met Office. The gusts may lead to shutdowns at turbines including those at The London Array, the world’s biggest offshore wind park, which automatically halt when wind speeds exceed 56 mph.

“The most comparable event is the 1990 Burns’ Day storm,” Nicola Maxey, a spokeswoman for the Met Office in Exeter, said by phone today. “This storm is likely to peak in the morning when most people are in bed, so the impact on people should be less than in 1990, which happened in the daytime.”

Gusts around the London Array are forecast at about 130 kilometers per hour (81 mph), Barrie Englishby, a production manager at the project in the sea East of London, said today in an e-mail. Structurally, the turbines and offshore sub-stations are designed to withstand conditions “far in excess” of those forecast, he said.

London Array

The London Array is owned by EON SE, Dong Energy A/S and Masdar Abu Dhabi Future Energy Co. It has 175 Siemens AG turbines with a total capacity of 630 megawatts, enough to power almost half a million U.K. homes, according to its website.

Wind power generation will peak at 5,501 megawatts on Oct. 27 and 4,214 megawatts on Oct. 28, up from a maximum of 3,667 megawatts today, according to Bloomberg’s wind supply model. It rose to a record 5,773 megawatts on Sept. 15, according to National Grid Plc data.

While the storm is most likely to cut across southern England, there is a moderate probability that it will track across the midlands and the north of England and a low probability it will miss the English mainland to the south, the Met Office said yesterday.

Sustained winds of 74-95 mph constitute a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, one level above a tropical storm.

U.K. farm income dropped 14 percent last year as the second-wettest weather on record reduced harvests and costs climbed, according to government data. Summer 2013 was the driest since 2006 and the 16th driest since 1910, Met Office data show.

–Editors: Rob Verdonck, Randall Hackley

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