Radio Sandwell Miscellanea

Batten down - Huge Atlantic storm heading our way

2014-02-07 10:56:13

This terrifying image shows how a catastrophic storm hurtling across the Atlantic will smash into Britain in just hours.

A deluge of torrential rain and hurricane-force winds will smash into Britain []

The UK faces the worst hurricane-force winds and torrential rain this winter and possibly for decades.

And forecasters warned there will be NO let up in the extreme stormy weather until at least the end of the month.

The entire west coast is braced for colossal 75 foot-plus waves to crash inland this weekend triggering unchecked flooding and widespread destruction.

Brighton Pier before and after Feb 2014 storm

A deep low Atlantic pressure system miles of the UK coast will whip up 150mph winds and violent sea surges as it barrels into the country.

At its centre the intense storm will see pressure drop to just 944mb - seven millibars LOWER than the Great Storm of 1987.

Experts said the worst of the weather is due to set in tomorrow night before a relentless onslaught of wind and rain over the weekend.

They warned communities to prepare for trees to be torn from the ground, roofs ripped from buildings and the flooding crisis to dramatically deteriorate.

Meteorological projections show winds of 12 on the Beaufort scale - Hurricane force - hitting the west coast on Friday night and into Saturday.

Forecasters have warned exceptional low pressure driving the storm threatens to whip up gales which could exceed 100mph - way off the Beaufort scale.

It is also pulling a massive "sea swell" towards the UK which when hurled against the coast will send waves of more than 75-feet crashing inshore.

Another image shows the frenzied "Catherine wheel" of low pressure sweeping towards the UK, closely followed by another at the beginning of next week.

Experts said storms which battered the country over Christmas and saw wind speeds top 142mph in Scotland pale into insignificance next to the approaching monster.

The massive storm will hit Britain late on Friday night [MET OFFICE]

The Met Office has issued a raft of level-2 amber severe weather warnings for wind and rain over the next few days.

Worst hit is expected to be a swathe of the south including Devon, Cornwall and London and the South-east.

The Met Office's chief meteorologist Andy Page warned  torrential rain will set in today with no respite until Sunday at the earliest.

He said: "Another area of low pressure will bring spells of heavy rain to southern England from Thursday afternoon to Friday morning, with 20-40 mm [1.6ins] of rain falling widely.

"This includes a risk of locally 10-20 mm of rain falling within 2-3 hours, with Devon, Somerset and Dorset at greatest risk during Thursday evening.

"A further Atlantic frontal system will bring a band of rain quickly eastwards during Friday night and early Saturday, with the heaviest rain again likely to be across parts of southern England, followed in turn by heavy showers."

He added: "Winds will also be a feature during Friday night and Saturday with severe gales possible around coasts in the south and southwest of England.

He warned a  low pressure system will sweep past the Irish coast on Saturday before crashing into the UK through the day.

"The deep area of low pressure will move east into Ireland during Saturday," he said.

"Severe gales [are] likely to develop on the southern flank, with parts of southwest England and coastal districts bordering the Bristol Channel and English Channel bearing the brunt of the strongest winds, particularly through Saturday afternoon and evening.

"These winds will also whip up large waves over the eastern Atlantic which will affect southwest facing coasts during Saturday."

The Environment Agency has issued two 'danger to life' severe flood warnings, 54 flood warnings and more than 200 flood alerts across the country.

It warned severe flooding in the southwest, including Somerset, shows "no signs of easing" as persistent rain lashes the area.

Rivers are at risk of bursting their banks, while rain falling onto saturated ground will trigger torrents of floodwater, it said.

Flood Risk manager Paul Mustow said: "With no let up of this severe weather, the Environment Agency continues to have teams out on the ground who are working around the clockto protect homes and communities.

"We're preparing for yet more heavy rain into the weekend, which is falling on already saturated ground following the wettest January on record.

"We are also prepared for the risks of more coastal flooding.

"We urge people to stay safe and not to walk or drive through flood water which can be dangerous and to take care near coastal paths and promenades for fear of being swept away.

Jonathan Powell, forecaster for Vantage Weather Services, said the imminent megastorm is shaping up to be worse than any seen so far this winter.

He said it could eclipse October's devastating St Jude's Day storm and Storm Emily which unleashed 142mph gusts in Scotland.

He said: "This is a significant weather event, the focal point is across the south with the prelude of wind and rain hitting on Friday.

"Then on Saturday it is looking diabolical, certainly strong enough to fell trees and cause structural damage.

"The coasts are looking terrible, as the strong winds bring this risk of huge waves.

"More low pressure systems threaten to keep this going into next week, with an unsettled pictures until early spring.

"This forms part of the worst run of winter storms we have seen in years, possibly on record."

Vehicles queue on the flooded Portland Beach Road near Weymouth in Dorset [PA]

Leon Brown, forecaster for The Weather Channel, blamed a ferocious jet stream for dragging relentless Atlantic storms into the UK.

He said: "With the jet stream set to remain in its current track across the mid Atlantic and then swinging northeast past northwest Iberia, across Biscay to the UK there will be n letup in the wet and sometimes stormy weather through most of February.

"In the next two weeks the southern portion of the UK from Cornwall and Devon, S.Wales to Essex and Suffolk can expect 200 to 300 per cent of normal rainfall, or two to three times as much as normal."

The largest wave ever seen in British waters was recorded at 3.30am yesterday by a buoy operated by the Channel Coastal Observatory off Penzance, Cornwall.

The beast destroyed the previous record British wave of 67ft and forecasters warned it was only the beginning of 72 hours of storm hell.

Dozens of homes were evacuated across the South West as seawalls crumbled away - and two people trapped in their car had to be dragged to safety by firefighters.

Many thousands of homes in the West Country were left without power. Devon councillor John Clatworthy said it was the "worst damage seen for more than a century".

He added: "The storm was unbelievable. It is not just Dawlish that is affected, this railway line is to Plymouth, the naval bases, Cornwall - it is a lifeline."

The Prime Minister yesterday chaired an emergency Cobra meeting to discuss the floods.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs minister Owen Patterson has faced criticism over his handling of the crisis. But the Prime Minister's spokesman said: "The Secretary of State is doing an excellent job."

Elsewhere in the UK it was a chillier picture as heavy snow hit Scotland.

Glenshee Ski Centre in the southern Cairngorms was buried under 33ft snow drifts - six times deeper than the slopes at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.


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