'Sting jet looking more likely' as Storm Eunice hits UK
18 February 2022
Professor Suzanne Gray, a storm researcher at the University of Reading, said:
"Satellite imagery is showing a sting jet is looking more likely with Storm Eunice in the coming hours. Analysis of the conditions needed for a sting jet to form is showing a red bullseye over the southern UK, indicating all the ingredients are there.
"A sting jet is a rare phenomenon in a storm, that we only see once in a few years in the UK. It is caused in a rapidly deepening storm when there is a break between the warm and cold surface fronts that form the battle grounds between air masses. A narrow ribbon of air can descend from the tip of the cloud hooking around the centre of the storm and descend to the surface, lashing the ground with very strong gusts as the storm passes through.
"Previous examples of sting jets include the Great Storm of 1987, which brought winds of around 115mph, and the St Jude's Day Storm of October 2013. It is far from certain whether we would see winds this strong if another sting jet happened today, however.
"I would advise people to take the forecasts seriously. If there is a sting jet, there are likely to be localised swathes of very strong winds in the south west part of the storm. Exactly where and when those will be is always very difficult to forecast, so the best bet is for everyone in this region to remain wary of the possibility and be very careful."
Professor Hannah Cloke, a natural hazards researcher at the University of Reading, said:
"The update to a red warning for London and the South East is the most severe and rare type of warning issued by the Met Office. It reflects the greater confidence that forecasters have closer to the event that it will be really, really windy and that people are putting their lives at risk unless they take action now.
"We have seen the results of that firmer advice with schools and venues closing for the day, in advance of the wind hitting. People in amber areas should realise though that they may see gusts and impacts of the storm that are just as bad as in red areas, so this doesn't necessarily mean you will get off more lightly.
"Forecasters have got better and better at predicting extreme weather in recent years, but a good forecast is pointless if people ignore it, or don't believe it. That's when tragedies occur."
Dr Peter Inness, a meteorologist at the University of Reading, said:
"The forecasts produced by the Met Office in the early hours of last Sunday showed a strong signal for a very vigorous storm in almost exactly the position that Eunice is currently in. At that stage there was still some uncertainty as to the exact track and strength of the storm but it was already being flagged as one to watch.
"The first warnings were issued on Tuesday, three days before the impact of Eunice and nearly two days before the storm actually even started to form."
Image credit: Met Office